- Change UK was rocked after six of its 11 MPs quit the struggling party on Tuesday.
- The party, formed by former Conservative and Labour MPs in February, has struggled in both the polls and the ballot box and failed to win a single seat in the European Parliament elections last month.
- Former Conservative MP Anna Soubry was named the new party leader.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
LONDON – Six of Change UK’s 11 MPs dramatically quit the party on Tuesday, just five months after it was established, following a disastrous performance in the European Parliament elections last month.
Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith all confirmed they were leaving the party.
The remaining MPs are Anna Soubry, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, Mike Gapes, and Ann Coffey. Soubry will replace Allen as permanent party leader.
In a statement, Soubry said: “I’m deeply disappointed that at such a crucial time in British politics our former colleagues have made this decision.
“Now is not the time to walk away, but instead to roll up our sleeves and stand up for the sensible mainstream centre ground which is unrepresented in British politics today.
“Going forward, the Change UK MPs are as determined to fix Britain’s broken politics as we were when we left our former parties.”
The departing MPs said in a statement that they remained proud of what the party achieved but had “concluded that by returning to sit as independents, we will be best placed to work cross party and respond flexibly.”
One Change UK source told Business Insider that the six departing MPs had been “spooked” by the European elections results and had started to “worry about keeping their seats” at the next general election.
Some of the six MPs are expected to eventually join the Liberal Democrats, sources familiar with Change UK told Business Insider. For now, they will sit as independent representatives in the House of Commons.
Change UK launched in February as The Independent Group when the 11 MPs quit the Labour and Conservative parties in protest of their leaders and their policies on Brexit.
The party had hoped to replace the Liberal Democrats as the most popular centrist party in British politics and eventually challenge the Tories and Labour as a party of government.
However, it struggled to gain traction with the public, following a series of name changes and blunders, including failing to submit a compliant logo to electoral authorities in time for the European elections. The party went on to win just over 3% of the national vote and no members of the European Parliament.
There has also been disagreement within Change UK over whether it should work with other anti-Brexit parties in elections, with members like Leslie and Soubry arguing against it.
Soubry publicly criticised Allen for suggesting on the eve of the European elections that anti-Brexit Brits should vote tactically and back the Liberal Democrats.
“I think it is rather bizarre for an interim leader on the eve of poll to tell people essentially not to vote for their party,” Soubry said. “You do not stand candidates and then say to people, ‘We are going through a complete farce; please don’t vote for them.'”
The Liberal Democrats went on to win 20% of the vote and continue to receive a boost in post-election polls.
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