EXCL Chuka Umunna: I was a teenage member of the Liberal Democrats

Posted On: 
13th September 2019

Chuka Umunna was a member of the Lib Dems before he joined Labour, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Chuka joined the Lib Dems in February.
Credit: 
PA Images

He signed up for the party when he was a teenager but switched shortly before Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.

Mr Umunna stunned Westminster last February when he and seven other Labour MPs quit their party to form the Independent Group.

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They were soon joined by three Conservative MPs and went on to become Change UK.

But shortly after a disastrous European election, when the party only gained 3.3% of the vote and won no seats, Streatham MP Mr Umunna announced he was joining the Lib Dems.

In an interview with The House magazine, he revealed that it was not the first time he had been a member.

He said: "I wasn’t born into the (Labour) party. My mother had always voted Liberal Democrat until I became her MP, and my father had always voted Labour but wasn’t a card-carrying member of the party. We weren’t a political family in that sense.

"My closest friends and family were not in the Labour bubble at all, and that’s quite unusual in the Parliamentary Labour Party. Whereas I was a member of the Liberal Democrats before I was swept up by New Labour in the 90s.

"I actually forgot. I said to my mum ‘did I actually join the Lib Dems’? We could remember me sending off the material because I was developing an interest in politics, but I couldn’t really remember. So I asked Streatham Liberal Democrats when I joined whether I’d ever been a member before and they said ‘actually, you were'."

Mr Umunna, who is now the Lib Dem spokesman for international trade, foreign affairs and international development, has been chosen as the Lib Dem general election candidate in the Cities of Westminster and London.

Tory Mark Field has held the seat since 2001, and the Lib Dems came a distant third in the seat in 2017.

However, Mr Umunna insisted it will be a "two horse race" between the Conservatives and Lib Dems at the upcoming election.

"This is a seat that’s more than 70% Remain and it has an MP who has just voted to stop no-deal being blocked,” he said. “We’re not complacent but we think we stand a really good chance of winning because we are the Remain option."