Breakaway MPs begin talks about becoming a new party

PUBLISHED: 15:35 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 05 March 2019

Independent Group MPs (L-R) Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Chris Leslie and Heidi Allen (Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Independent Group MPs (L-R) Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Chris Leslie and Heidi Allen (Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Yui Mok/PA Wire

Breakaway MPs from The Independent Group have begun talks with the elections watchdog about becoming a fully-fledged party.

Group spokesman Chuka Umunna led a delegation of the group’s MPs for talks with the Electoral Commission, saying that in order to present an alternative to the “broken political system” they would have to become a party.

He said: “We left the established parties a few weeks ago now because politics is fundamentally broken and they are part of a broken political system.

“We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of people who have signed up to our website, who have shown support for what we are doing and want to see an alternative, to build an alternative.

“So we are here at the Electoral Commission to explore with them how we do that.

“We aren’t a political party but quite clearly there is an appetite for a new one, so we are here to discuss with them what that involves.”

Umunna was joined by former Labour MPs Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey and Chris Leslie along with former Tory Heidi Allen at the Electoral Commission headquarters in London.

He said: “We think people want an alternative. If you want to present an alternative you have to become a party, so we want to find out what that involves.”

The Electoral Commission meeting comes just over a fortnight after Umunna, Coffey, Leslie, Shuker, Luciana Berger, Angela Smith and Mike Gapes resigned from Labour, signalling the biggest shake-up of Westminster politics for a generation.

They were soon followed by former Labour colleague Joan Ryan and ex-Tory recruits Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.

Registering with the commission would allow TIG to field candidates in elections but would also require it to comply with strict rules on funding.

The group has promised to comply with party funding rules even if it does not formally register with the watchdog.

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