On the 15th of April, the Electoral Commission officially announced that they had approved the application made by Change UK to become a full functioning political party. They approved all of the details apart from the party logo. This now means that they are able to stand candidates in the up and coming European Union elections, which will be held for the UK on Thursday 23rd of May.
Many remain supporters have called on Change UK: The independent group to form a pro-remain alliance with The Liberal Democrats, The Green Party and other pro remain MEPs that sit in the EU parliament. It looks as though Change UK: The Independent Group will be fielding their own candidates for this election, therefore, it’s unlikely that we will see any pro-remain alliances happening this close to the voting day.
Change UK: The Independent Group will be sitting in The European Parliament as part of The European People’s party which includes other European nation partners such as Malta’s Partit Nazzjonalista, which includes long serving MEPs such as Roberta Metsola.
One of the Young independent group supporters, and the founder of the Open university independent group, said on the revelation made by the electoral commission: 'It is fantastic news that the commission has approved our application, with Heidi Allen MP as our leader. As an under 30 who voted to remain in the European referendum, it is vital that we are not disenfranchised by people like Nigel Farage MEP. He doesn’t talk for people like me and the thousands of young people when it come to The European Union. Many young people are thrilled that a pro-European party has been established, and that they are pushing for a people’s vote.
'None of the facts were available to us when we voted on the referendum in June of 2016, so it is essential that we campaign for a successful people’s vote, revoke Article 50, and then in turn have an inquiry into the 2016 referendum. This inquiry should aim to establish whether there was any illegal activity and, if there was, prosecute those involved. I have been involved with The Independent Group since the very beginning, and I am happy to have finally found my political home. We’ll aim to provide young people who didn’t have a vote in the last referendum, those who have made their voices known, to have a vote and to feel like they are being listened too and not ignored and disenfranchised by those at the top of British politics.'
Two former conservative MEPs, who sit with the European People’s party as current supporters of Change UK, South West and Gibraltar MEP, Julie Girling and South East England MEP, Richard Ashworth, both announced that they were planning to stand as candidates for Change UK, meaning they will be contesting their current seats under their new party banners.
Julie made a speech to the European parliament stating that she 'will use this opportunity to make the case for EU membership. I’ll be working with Change UK and brave Westminster colleagues who have put country before party, and we will make sure that we deliver a result which will make sure that it indicates that it is time for that second referendum, and that referendum can take place in September, and by October 31st, we will remain.”
Interim leader Heidi Allen MP has been doing a fantastic job in leading the party, the MPs and the group’s supporters since she was made interim leader. On the news today, she gave the following statement: 'I take my hat off to The Renew party who have worked incredibly hard to achieve what many would consider to be an impossible feat, a party born not out of Westminster but in the country.
'Their values mirror the collaborative approach in The Independent Group so I am pleased we are working together in the national interest. Both Renew and The Independent group have said that British Politics is broken and it needs to change. We are looking forward to working together with them and their supporters in order to change British politics and make the positive case for Britain’s membership of the European Union.'
Annabel Mullin, the current leader of Renew gave the following statement: 'In keeping with Renew’s commitment to honest, open and practical politics, we are happy to be working with The Independent Group. Due to the Brexit threat, it is essential that the pro-European vote is not split on May 23rd.
'This strategic move will ensure that voters are presented with a clear, pro-European choice at the ballot box. I know that Renew’s work at the grassroots level can help The Independent Group’s MPs build a better political system. Renew was founded in order to change the conversation on political reform and provide millions of disenfranchised voters with a voice. We can now do that with The Independent Group, who can provide invaluable expertise and leadership at this crucial time. I hope this move will provide a platform for doing politics differently.'
Change UK: The Independent group are currently carrying out their interviews and vetting procedures, and they aim to announce their full slate candidates for all UK regions on or around the 23rd of April.
A Backbench report by Sadie Trent.