The Independent Group plans to register as a political party called ‘Change UK’ with Heidi Allen as interim leader.
The Independent Group has applied to become a political party under the name ‘Change UK’. The group of 11 former Labour and Conservative MPs hope to take part in May’s European elections if Brexit is delayed beyond the next deadline of 12 April.
TIG was formed by seven breakaway Labour MPs who had become disillusioned by anti-semitism and the opposition’s handling of Brexit under Jeremy Corbyn. They have since been joined by one other Labour MP, as well as three MPs from the Conservative party, who had parallel concerns about Theresa May’s approach to Brexit.
Among the three ex-Tory MPs is Heidi Allen, who represents the constituency of South Cambridgeshire. She has been named as the interim leader of Change UK for the purposes of registration with the Electoral Commission. But could Allen land the full-time leadership role for Change UK?
Heidi Allen on becoming interim leader
Allen was ‘delighted’ to be named as the interim leader of Change UK as the group attempted to become an official political party.
With quotes via ITV News, Allen’s statement read: “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.”
Heidi Allen’s strengths and weaknesses
Allen’s background is in business, rather than in politics, and that could be seen as a strength or as a weakness.
After Allen’s appointment as interim leader, TIG spokesman Chuka Umunna explained that her background earned her the role.
In a video clip posted by TIG’s verified Twitter account, Umunna explained: “[Appointing Heidi Allen] is quite deliberate as we want to bring in lots of Heidi Allens into British politics: people from outside of politics who have done loads of interesting things, like run a pub, for example.”
With Change UK’s vision and former business owner Allen as interim leader, they are firmly aiming to take politics in a new direction.
But others might argue that Allen’s lack of political experience is a drawback and that it is too early in her career to give her a leadership role.
Allen worked as a councillor for 18 months before being elected to the House of Commons in 2015. She has been in the role for less than four years and has already left the Conservative Party.
With no Cabinet experience, Allen faces a sizeable jump from being a backbench MP to potentially leading a political party.
Umunna was probably the favourite for Allen’s role and he could still assume the leadership if Change UK is granted political party status.
The Streatham MP was previously tipped for the Labour leadership and has held positions in the Shadow Cabinet. Umunna is the spokesperson of the group so he will work closely with Allen as Change UK aims to increase its popularity.
Anna Soubry has been given the responsibility of overseeing Brexit for TIG and has held a ministerial role in the past.
But both Soubry and Allen have publicly backed Umunna for the leadership role in the recent past, as reported by The Independent.
The other MPs are less qualified and Umunna has clear leadership qualities. Allen has the interim leadership but Umunna could be set for the full-time role.