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Thu, 1 October 2020

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Heidi Allen threatened to quit as Change UK leader amid row over backing Lib Dems

Heidi Allen threatened to quit as Change UK leader amid row over backing Lib Dems
2 min read

Change UK leader Heidi Allen has revealed that she offered to resign over a row about whether the party should back the Liberal Democrats in some regions at the European elections.

The former Tory MP clashed with Anna Soubry – who also left the Conservatives to join the new group – and others over whether to support their pro-Remain rivals outside London and the south-east of England.

Asked by Channel 4 News if she had threatened to quit as the party's interim leader, she said: "Yes. I did. I am very, very troubled by this. This is a massive decision for a party to take.

"Had it been left to me, I would have absolutely advised tactical voting, but I have a responsibility – hence your question, are you asking me as Heidi, or as Change leader.

"I respect the views of my fellow group members and the majority was that they didn’t want to go that way, but it is something that still troubles me. I have no doubt that the British public will look at the tactical voting websites out there and make their own decisions."

Change UK - which is also made up of former Labour MPs - is languishing in the polls, well behind fellow pro-Remain parties the Lib Dems and Greens.

On why she offered to quit, Ms Allen said: "We all left out parties in February because we could see that the main old parties were failing spectacularly to look after the national interest, and sometimes that’s the only tool that you’ve got left: your integrity and how strongly you feel about something.

"And I would have been prepared to go that far if that’s what I thought would conclude in the right direction. But ultimately though, it is a democracy, we are a group, and I took their views on board particularly, as I say, safeguarding our candidates.

However, she denied the fledgling party was in "complete disarray" and was instead trying to work out the best way to deal with the European election's proportional voting system.

She said: "This is a really, really difficult time. It is not a precise science."

Details of the bust-up emerged just days after Ms Allen signalled that Change UK could morph into something else in the "brand new world" of the next parliamentary race, in a push for it to become “more successful”.

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