Heidi Allen announces cross-party project to return more Remain MPs to parliament

PUBLISHED: 10:07 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:54 10 July 2019

Independent MP Heidi Allen has formed Unite to Remain, a cross-party initiative to maximise the chances of returning a Remain MP to parliament in an upcoming general election. Picture: Sky News

Independent MP Heidi Allen has formed Unite to Remain, a cross-party initiative to maximise the chances of returning a Remain MP to parliament in an upcoming general election. Picture: Sky News

Sky News

Heidi Allen has launched Unite to Remain, a cross-party initiative to help anti-Brexit candidates maximise their chances in parliamentary elections, regardless of party.

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The independent MP for South Cambridgeshire, who will lead the initiative, said the group will follow the blueprint of what is happening in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, where both Plaid Cymru and the Greens have agreed to stand aside in order to support the Liberal Democrat candidate, who is seen as having the best chance of defeating the Conservatives and bringing a seat to the Remain cause.

MORE: Plaid Cymru join Lib Dem and Green pact for Brecon and Radnorshire by-election

Allen said that the group had been formed in anticipation of a general election prior to the October 31 Brexit deadline, with hard Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage at the helm.

"People in the European elections were disappointed that the Remain parties didn't have time to get their acts together," she told Sky News' Adam Boulton. "The idea is building on the Brecon [and Radnorshire] model, which is brilliant news, grown-up politics, parties working together to work out what are the best chances of not splitting that Remain vote."

The group would bring together parties such as the Greens, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, and the Independent Group, as long as they wanted to put a Remain candidate at the fore.

She claimed that so far, the commitment from Remain parties was "absolutely outstanding".

"We need to do the analysis on this, but I would hope [there are] 100 plus seats where it'll make a real difference," she said. "And in those seats, the ambition is that we return a significant swathe of Remain, moderate, centre-ground MPs to parliament, to shift the dial on Brexit."

Asked why she didn't just join the Lib Dems, she explained that the Unite to Remain initiative needs to be led by an independent - "someone without skin in the game" - to be fair to all parties involved.

She admitted that her own seat of South Cambridgeshire is one of the "jigsaw pieces" of the project, after Boulton pointed out that the Lib Dems pose a danger to her seat in a general election. "We're having good conversations about it," she said, "but I'm not special ... the point is, we need to achieve this in as many seats as possible, not just mine."

The former Tory MP left her party earlier this year to join several other defectors another to co-form what has become the Independent Group for Change, which she led until the party's failure to gain a seat at the EU elections. She has now left the Independent Group for Change, but still stands as an independent MP.

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