TIME FOR A CHANGE: Chuka Umunna has quit the new political party he helped form just months ago
CHUKA UMUNNA has quit Change UK just months after leaving Labour to form the political party.
The party’s former interim leader Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith and Sarah Wollaston have also announced their departure from the party, which came into being in April.
Only five MPs – Anna Soubry, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey – remain in the party. Former Conservative business minister and anti-Brexit campaigner Soubry has been appointed to replace Allen as leader.
In a personal statement published on his website, Umunna said: “Whilst I believe it should carry on as an organisation, I do not believe Change UK should carry on in its current form. This has put me in a fundamentally different place not only to other Change UK parliamentary colleagues but also it’s activists and candidates who should be free to take the party in the direction they wish. Consequently, with a heavy heart, I have decided to leave the party and to return to sitting as an independent MP in the House of Commons for the time being.”
The former Change UK spokesman added: “I am immensely proud to have played a part in establishing the party, have nothing but respect for Change UK’s MPs, staff, candidates and supporters, and wish them well in the future. I will of course work with them on the common causes we all have.”
Umunna, who resigned from the Labour leadership race in 2015 just days after announcing his bid, has said that he will continue to focus his efforts on stopping Brexit.
In a joint statement, the former Change UK MPs said: “We believe that our priority right now must be to provide collegiate leadership to bring people together in the national interest. We know the landscape will continue to shift within the political environment and have concluded that by returning to sit as independents, we will be best placed to work cross party and respond flexibly. We wish our colleagues well as they continue to build Change UK.”
The departing MPs expressed their gratitude to everyone who has supported them and said they were “immensely proud” of the Change UK team.
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.”
Change UK failed to win any seats in the European Parliament in last month’s European Elections and secured just 3.4 per cent of the vote.
Umunna had described the party’s performance as “disappointing” and called for Remain parties to work more closely together in an opinion piece published in The Independent.
The news of MPs quitting the newly established party has been met with disapproval from some members of the public.
“I think if you are going to form a new party, take donations and invite people to stand as MEPs, you have a duty to stand by that party for longer than a few months. Quitting early because it didn’t work out just doesn’t seem right,” one commenter wrote reacting to the news.
Another wrote: “Let’s be honest this is embarrassing for you all. It’s only been a month or two and it shows you can’t work as a team.”
While many commenters were critical and found the announcement laughable, some did express understanding and support for the decision.
“Whilst many will be joking about today’s changes, I admire you all for realising when something isn’t working, and urge you to join forces with the @LibDems to build up the #Remain alliance. #Brexit is the most dangerous direction this country has taken in a generation,” one Twitter commenter wrote.
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