Former Labour activists flocking to run for Change UK

PUBLISHED: 17:15 21 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:15 21 April 2019

Heidi Allen representing Change UK. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA.

Heidi Allen representing Change UK. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Fledgling anti-Brexit party Change UK is the "natural home" for voters wanting a second referendum and the chance to stay in the European Union, interim leader Heidi Allen has said.

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Allen, interim leader of the party formed by the Independent Group of breakaway former Labour and Tory MPs, insisted the movement is building momentum.

She said there is a “real appetite building” to support Change UK in the European elections, which are expected to be held next month following the delay to Brexit.

Critics have warned the failure of pro-EU parties to join forces risks splitting the vote in the contests, while Nigel Farage's Brexit Party has built momentum among Leave supporters.

Change UK has received more than 1,000 applications to stand for election from former Labour, Tory, Liberal and Green party activists, the Observer reported.

Of the 3,700 applications received by Change UK for the 70 MEP candidacy places, 895 were former Labour activists, 105 were ex-Liberal Democrats and 92 ex-Greens.

Dozens of other applicants had been active in the Tory party, including former MPs, while of the Labour defectors, 32 were either former MPs or had previously been parliamentary or council candidates.

Allen said: “From across the country and old party divides, people are coming together to tell Labour and Conservative leaderships that they've had enough - enough of them focusing on self-preservation and wilful facilitation of a damaging Brexit.

“There's a real appetite building to support Change UK and send a clear message; give us a people's vote with a chance to remain and get out of the Brexit mess.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Allen insisted the d'Hondt proportional representation system meant there was not a risk of splitting the pro-EU vote, potentially benefiting Brexit-supporting parties, by failing to form an alliance with rivals.

“I've spent a lot of time looking at the way the numbers work in the d'Hondt system and I don't think there's a risk of that,” she said.

“We will poll differently in different parts of the country, but I think we stand every chance of doing very, very well in certain regions.”

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