The Independent Group, a nascent group of Tory and Labour defectors, have officially applied to become a political party to stand in European Union elections this May.
The news comes as Commons is set to vote on UK prime minister Theresa May's Brexit agreement, where the UK may be forced to participate in EU elections if the deal does not pass.
MP for South Cambridgeshire Heidi Allen will act as interim party leader so that the Electoral Commission (EC) can complete the registration process until a permanent leader can replace her at an inaugural conference in September, where the official party will be launched.
BREAKING— Hugo Gye (@HugoGye) 29 March 2019
"Today marks a huge step forward on The Independent Group's journey to becoming a fully-fledged political party, so I am delighted to have been chosen as our Interim Leader," Ms. Allen said on Friday.
— Adam Payne (@adampayne26) 29 March 2019
"If we are to deliver on our ambition to change politics for the better, it is vital that we attract support from people from every walk of life, every political background and none."
Change UK group spokesman Chuka Umunna said that the fledgling party was ”overwhelmed by the public support” for the party. The new party said that it wanted to stand in European elections "as a result of a long extension of the Article 50 process" and hoped to "shake up the two-party system and provide people with an alternative that can change our country for the better".
— The Independent Group (@TheIndGroup) March 29, 2019
Mr. Umunna added: “There is clearly an appetite for an alternative to our broken politics which needs fundamental change, as shown by the disastrous Brexit process which has occurred under the watch of the two main parties."
“A new party will shake up the two-party system and provide people with an alternative that can change our country for the better.”
Change UK, formerly the Independent Group, was formed on 18 February by seven breakaway MPs – Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Ann Coffey – with the group citing allegations of antisemitism by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in addition to Labour's growing 'hard-Left' stance and the UK government's handling of Brexit. The group was later joined by Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, Tories allen, and Joan Ryan.