- Change UK rocked after 6 of its 11 MPs quit the struggling party.
- The party was formed by former Conservative and Labour MPs in February.
- But it has struggled in both the polls and the ballot box and failed to win a single seat in this week’s European Parliament elections.
- Former Conservative MP Anna Soubry was elected as new leader.
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LONDON — Six of Change UK’s 11 MPs dramatically quit the party on Tuesday just five months after it was established, following a disastrous performance in the European elections.
Change UK issued a statement on Tuesday saying the party now consisted of just five MPs.
Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith all confirmed they were leaving the party.
The remaining MPs are Anna Soubry, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, Mike Gapes, and Ann Coffey. Soubry will replace Heidi Allen as party leader.
In a statement, Soubry said: "I’m deeply disappointed that at such a crucial time in British politics our former colleagues have made this decision.
"Now is not the time to walk away, but instead to roll up our sleeves and stand up for the sensible mainstream centre ground which is unrepresented in British politics today.
"Going forward, the Change UK MPs are as determined to fix Britain’s broken politics as we were when we left our former parties.
Change UK launched in February as The Independent Group when eleven MPs quit Labour and the Conservatives in protest against the leaders and state of their former parties, including their policies on Brexit.
Change UK had hoped to replace the Liberal Democrats as the most popular centrist party in British politics and eventually challenge the Tories and Labour as a party of government.
But the party struggled to create a clear brand and won just over three per cent of the national vote at last month’s European Parliament elections, while the Lib Dems won over 20%.
There also been disagreement within Change UK over whether the new party should work together with other anti-Brexit parties in elections, with members like MPs Chris Leslie and Anna Soubry arguing against it.
Soubry publicly criticised the party’s interim leader Allen on the eve of the European elections, for suggesting that anti-Brexit Brits should vote tactically and back the Lib Dems.
"I think it is rather bizarre for an interim leader on the eve of poll to tell people essentially not to vote for their party," Soubry last month.
"You do not stand candidates and then say to people ‘we are going through a complete farce please don’t vote for them."
There had been suggestions that Change UK MPs would defect to the Liberal Democrats.
However, the outgoing Change UK MPs have decided to sit as independent representatives in the House of Commons, while multiple Lib Dem sources strongly denied that Change UK MPs would be joining their party.
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