The Independent Group of defecting MPs registered as a full-blown political party called Change UK today to try and stand candidates in possible EU elections.
Former Tory Heidi Allen has been appointed as interim leader of the fledgling party. Electoral Commission rules require a leader to be in place to register.
The group of 11 MPs – eight from Labour and three from the Conservatives – triggered the biggest split in British politics in 30 years by defecting last month.
They have speeded up their plans to try and make sure they can take part in European Parliament elections on May 23 if they end up being called.
The Electoral Commission confirmed it had received the application. It typically takes up to 30 days to process – leaving Change UK in a race against time to be set up in time for the deadline for standing candidates of April 24.
Once registered, they would also be able to stand candidates for the Commons in any snap general election.
Former Tory Heidi Allen has been appointed as interim leader of the fledgling party. Electoral Commission rules require a leader to be in place to register
Theresa May has said if MPs reject the Brexit deal again today the only way a longer delay to Brexit can be agreed is if the polls are held. The deal faces a third crushing defeat today making the poll highly likely.
Ms 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.’
Ms Allen said she wanted support from people ‘from every walk of life’ and ‘every political background’ as she launched the mission to overhaul politics.
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She said: ’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.’
Ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna – who many expected to be leader – said the defectors had been ‘overwhelmed’ by support offered since they moved last month.
The group of 11 MPs – eight from Labour and three from the Conservatives – triggered the biggest split in British politics in 30 years by defecting last month
Mr Umunna said: ‘There is clearly an appetite for an alternative to our broken politics which needs fundamental change, as shown by the disastrous Brexit process which has occurred under the watch of the two main parties.
‘A new party will shake up the two-party system and provide people with an alternative that can change our country for the better.
‘This is what Change UK will be aiming to do at any European elections if our application for registration is accepted in time.’
An Electoral Commission spokesman said: ‘The application will be assessed against the usual statutory tests and once a decision has been made, it will be published on our website.
The Independent Group said it would make arrangements to elect a permanent leader and hold a party conference later this year.
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