Former Change UK MPs launch new centrist group in Parliament with other independents
A group of MPs who defected from breakaway party Change UK have formed a new group in Parliament.
The Independents is described as "a co-operative of politicians working together" in the Commons, rather than a new party.
Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith - who left the Conservatives and Labour in February to set up Change UK - are the new grouping's founder members.
They have also been joined by former Labour MP John Woodcock, and it is understood former Tory Nick Boles and ex-Labour MP Ian Austin could also sign up.
Launching The Independents on Wednesday, a spokesperson said: “The Independents is the new home for independent politicians in Westminster.
“It launches today to encourage a stronger spirit of cross-party working and its members will work collaboratively in the national interest, including to prevent a damaging no-deal Brexit which will put the jobs and futures of young people of this country at risk.
“The group plans to operate in a different way to traditional political parties.”
It cites its core values as country first, collaboration, integrity, respect, leadership and openness.
Change UK had 11 MPs when it launched, but only Anna Soubry, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie and Joan Ryan remain after a major rift.
Former Labour frontbencher Chuka Umunna quit the party to join the Liberal Democrats, while ex-Tory MP Sarah Wollaston left and remains an independent.
Adding to the confusion, Heidi Allen has also set up another group, Unite To Remain, which is aimed at encouraging tactical voting to boost the number of anti-Brexit MPs in Parliament.
Ms Allen told The Independent: "Brexit has shifted the tectonic plates and shifted politics and our way of operating more than anything before. With both Labour and the Tories moving to the extremes, people just don’t recognise politics any more.
"The only way we’re going to break out of that under first-past-the-post is to learn to work differently. I’m genuinely encouraged by the appetite in all the parties to try. We might not succeed and get as many seats as we’d like but we need to try to build a genuine centre-ground, internationalist movement."