The end of Change UK?

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Is this the end of Change UK?

By Joe Harker

A group of seven Labour MPs caused a political stir by breaking away from the party earlier in the year, then caused even more of a stir when another Labour MP and three Tory MPs joined their ranks.

Calling themselves The Independent Group, later Change UK, they advocated for a pro-Europe position and hoped more defectors from Labour and the Tories would bolster their ranks, representing the widespread dissatisfaction with the leadership from each party.

The trickle did not become a flood, no others broke ranks to join the new party and now six of their number have decided to leave the party and stand as independents.

The Claim:

Patrick Maguire of the New Statesman considers this to have been inevitable from the start.

They were terrible in European parliament elections, gaining just 3.3 per cent of the vote, having made a series of errors beginning almost immediately after launching the party. The party quickly become known for making a series of mistakes.

Their MPs come from across the political spectrum, defined more by breaking away from their respective party leadership than a sense of united policy on anything other than Europe.

Without Brexit and questionable leadership from Labour and the Tories there is no way Change UK would have formed in the first place, it was a symptom of broken politics rather than a cure.

What is left is five MPs who will likely be wiped from their seats during the next round of elections. Their only path to success was convincing large swathes of MPs to break away in the early stages, having failed to do that they were always doomed.

The Counter Claim:

However, the party in its current state looks set to survive for a while longer.

While the six MPs that have broken away are standing as independents they could seek to rejoin their respective parties or even link up with the Liberal Democrats. Both parties are broadly in the centre ground of politics and could make fore natural allies.

The remaining five MPs led by Anna Soubry are not entertaining the possibility of being amalgamated into the Lib Dems.

Therefore they will stick with Change UK for the foreseeable future, even if the party is the punchline for a number of political jokes.

They appear to have misjudged the appetite for a new centre-ground party in British politics, particularly as opposition to Brexit wasn't a unique position and the Lib Dems ended up becoming the centre party of Remain voters.

The Facts:

The original seven Labour MPs that formed the party were Chuka Umunna, Luciana Burger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Chris Leslie.

They broke away on February 18 and were joined a day later by Labour MP Joan Ryan. The day afterwards a trio of Tory MPs, Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston broke ranks.

Heidi Allen became leader, but she along with Umunna, Berger, Shuker, Smith and Wollaston collectively quit the party.

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