- The Independent Group said on Friday that it had registered to become a political party in the UK.
- The 11 former Conservative and Labour MPs also said they would name the new party “Change UK – The Independent Group.”
- The group launched in February to protest the parties’ stances, including on Brexit.
- It moved to become a party so it can stand in May’s European Parliament elections, which the UK may have to participate in.
- The UK will have to stand candidates in the elections if there is a lengthy delay to Brexit.
LONDON – The Independent Group has applied to become an official political party.
The recently formed anti-Brexit group of 11 former Conservative and Labour members of Parliament said on Friday that it had registered to become a party so it can stand in May’s European Parliament elections, which the United Kingdom may have to partake in if there is a lengthy delay to Brexit.
The group also said it would name the party “Change UK – The Independent Group” and appointed former Conservative MP Heidi Allen as interim leader until it can select a permanent leader in September.
In a statement on Friday morning, Allen said: “Today marks a huge step forward on The Independent Group’s journey to becoming a fully-fledged political party, so I am delighted to have been chosen as our Interim Leader.”
She added: “If we are to deliver on our ambition to change politics for the better, it is vital that we attract support from people from every walk of life, every political background and none.
“Coming into the House of Commons from running my manufacturing business in 2015, I have seen with my own eyes how improved our political system would be if it harnessed the diverse skills and experience of our country.
“We in Change UK, as we hope to be known, don’t just dream about a fairer and better future for our country, we are determined to unleash it through hard work, passion and shared endeavour.”
The Independent Group said that while it originally planned to become a party later in the year, the growing prospect of a lengthy delay to Brexit and the UK having to stand candidates in the European Parliament elections forced it to act sooner.
It said the Electoral Commission, the UK’s independent body for overseeing elections, advised it to submit an application “urgently” to stand in the elections.
The UK is likely to request a lengthy delay to Brexit – up to a year – if the House of Commons is unable to find a majority for either Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal or alternatives being considered in the coming weeks.
MPs are set to vote on Friday on the withdrawal agreement May negotiated with the European Union that has twice been rejected by large margins.
The Independent Group formed in February to protest its members’ political parties.
Chuka Umunna, the group’s representative, said in the statement: “We intend to draw on all the voices of our group in any European election campaign. We will seek to put forward a substantial number of MEP candidates with backgrounds from outside of politics.”
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