Change UK fail to win a seat at the European elections as MP criticises interim leader

PUBLISHED: 07:23 27 May 2019 | UPDATED: 07:23 27 May 2019

Brexit Party candidate Anne Widdecombe (left) and  Rachel Johnson during the European Parliamentary elections count. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

Brexit Party candidate Anne Widdecombe (left) and Rachel Johnson during the European Parliamentary elections count. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

New anti-Brexit party Change UK has failed to win any seats during the European elections as one of their MPs criticised their interim leader for the party's performance.

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The party - which was formed after Tory and Labour MPs left their original parties - failed to win representation in the European Parliament despite standing on a pro-EU manifesto.

It has so far received just 3.4% of the vote - polling around the same as the Scottish National Party and UKIP.

Anna Soubry, Change UK's Brexit spokesperson, said the performance was "extremely good" for a party that has just formed.

"It gives us a great base for the future," she told the Today programme.

"We now want to formulate policies that are based on evidence, absolutely grabbing hold of that centrist, progressive, small 'l' liberal and moderate politics which is lacking in this country."

And in a criticism of interim leader Heidi Allen, Soubry said it was "bizarre" for a Change UK MP to advocate tactical voting on the eve of the poll.

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She said: "It's bizarre for an interim leader to tell people on the eve of a poll not to vote for their own party."

There have now been suggestions Change UK could merge with the Liberal Democrats.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Change's interim leader said: "I would like us to be in the same vehicle." Asked if she meant the same party, Allen replied: "Yeah, probably, I don't know. This partisan thing completely passes me by and when I look across Europe, they seem to do pretty well with coalitions.

"I don't know what the format will be, but will we be singing from the same hymn sheet? I would hope as a collective, let's call us a collective, somewhere in the middle with other likeminded colleagues. I don't think it's sensible to be too prescriptive at the moment."

But Allen added to be a "real insurgent force", the alliance had to be "brand new".

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson said "anyone with liberal values is obviously welcome to join" the party.

She told Sky News: "We are already working together and in Parliament, with the campaign for a people's vote, the Liberal Democrats are working with Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, Change UK, the SNP and Labour and Conservative MPs who believe our best future is in the EU."

She added: "These are our best ever EU election results. Uniting Alistair Campbell and Michael Heseltine in voting for the Liberal Democrats deserves commendation in itself."

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