Ex-BBC journalist among 8 Change UK MEP candidates selected for London

Gavin Esler, candidate of the new pro-EU political party, Change UK speaks at the launch of their European election campaign in Bristol on April 23, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS

Pro-remain group Change UK has selected eight candidates to run in May's European Parliamentary elections.

Parties across Britain have been selecting candidates for the European Parliamentary elections in late May, which will go ahead unless the UK leaves the EU before then.

Change UK will field 70 candidates for the European elections and this will be the first significant test of whether the newfound pro-remain party will enjoy success.

Formerly The Independent Group, Change UK was formed by a group of breakaway ex-Labour MPs who were dissatisfied with the opposition's approach to Brexit.

Three MPs have since defected from the Conservative Party, including interim leader Heidi Allen.

Change UK received 3,700 applications and they have selected 70 candidates who will run to become MEPs representing various regions across the UK.

We take a closer look at the eight candidates who were selected in London, including one who has already had to withdraw.

Gavin Esler

Gavin Esler at the launch of The Independent Group European election campaign at We The Curious on April 23, 2019 in Bristol, England. With a high probability that Britain will take part...

Former BBC journalist Gavin Esler will run as a candidate for London in the May elections. Alongside Rachel Johnson (sister of Tory MP Boris Johnson), Esler is the most high-profile name on Change UK's list of 70 candidates.

For 12 years, Esler presented BBC Two's Newsnight and he is a well-known journalist. But he left the BBC in 2017 and is now an MEP candidate for Change UK.

In an article for The National, Esler explained: "I have never in my life been a member of a political party. But I am now. I have never been a candidate for election. I am now. And I have never been seriously worried about the future of my country. I am now. I have joined the new British party Change UK, formerly known as The Independent Group and formed by people who – bravely, in my view – left their parties, whether Conservative, Labour or others, because they thought they were failing Britain. The breaking point came, as I am sure you will have guessed, over Brexit."

Jan Vincent-Rostowski

Jacek Rostowski in Warsaw, Poland on 10 December 2018

Jan Vincent-Rostowski, sometimes known as Jacek Rostowski, is highly regarded within the political sphere, having previously served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland under Donald Tusk.

The London-born politician and economist has defected from the Conservative party to team up with Change UK.

Rostowski has received high praise from ex-Tory MP and current London Evening Standard editor George Osborne. He tweeted: "I see my old counterpart and good friend Jan Vincent-Rostowski is standing as an MEP for Change UK. Jan was Poland’s long-serving Conservative Finance Minister, but raised and worked in Britain. He was Tusk’s Deputy PM - so he can negotiate too ... Impressive."

Carole Tongue

Former MEP Carole Tongue is bidding to return to European Parliament 20 years after her last post. Tongue served as a Labour MEP for London East between 1984 and 1999 and has since held various advisory roles.

She was the Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party between 1989 and 1991. Tongue's experience and European expertise could be vital for Change UK.

But Labour MP Rupa Huq has criticised Tongue. She tweeted: "First MEP I ever encountered was Carole Tongue who I worked for in the 90s for a bit at European Parliament and was delighted to campaign with in the 2017 election. Sad at her defection to funny tinge lot."

Annabel Mullin

Annabel Mullin, Leader of the Renew Party, poses for a portrait at their campaign office in Newport town center on April 04, 2019 in Newport, Wales. The Newport West By-election is being...

Change UK has formed an alliance with the Renew Party - a fellow pro-remain centrist group. Renew has donated several candidates to Change UK for the purposes of the European Parliamentary elections, including leader Annabel Mullin.

The former psychologist, police officer and Liberal Democrat member joined Renew when they merged with Advance Together in 2018.

She said: "Delighted that our [Renew Party] candidates are part of the [The Independent Group] list & that we are helping to create the difference, ordinary people doing extraordinary things is the future of politics. We’re proud to be at the forefront of that revolution with Change UK."

Karen Newman

One of the main driving forces behind the creation of Change UK was the antisemitism which is still rife within the Labour party today.

Karen Newman is the vice chair of Liberal Judaism, a board member at the Board of Deputies of British Jews and an activist for a Jewish LGBT+ group.

Speaking to The Jewish Chronicle, Newman said: “Europe is so important for the life of Britain, and it has been quite sickening to watch the Brexit debate become a ridiculous tribal fight between political groups looking only for their own advantage, with nobody actually sitting back and saying what’s best for Britain, and it looks as if Change UK are going to try and do that."

Ali Sadjady

Ali Sadjady at the launch of The Independent Group European election campaign at We The Curious on April 23, 2019 in Bristol, England. With a high probability that Britain will take part...

Former Tory member Ali Sadjady has already been forced to withdraw as an MEP candidate due to some controversial past tweets being unearthed.

Sadjady said that he was tempted to vote for Brexit because of 'Romanian pickpockets'.

In a statement on Twitter, Sadjady resigned and said: "I [apologise] if I have offended with some of my past tweets, anyone that knows me, knows that they are not representative of who I am and everyday I am trying to be the best version of me. However, I am happy to stand down as MEP candidate for Change UK so as not to tarnish their reputation." 

Nora Mulready

Like Sadjady, Nora Mulready has seen some of her past comments resurface but she is holding firm as an MEP candidate.

In an article she wrote for The Independent, Mulready said she was the victim of a "smear campaign" after the Muslim Council of Britain accused her of Islamaphobia.

Mulready said: "I have never – not once – expressed anti-Muslim hatred or bigotry. I have always been clear that any criticisms I may make are about Islamism, and conservative Islamic cultures or beliefs; never Muslims. I am horrified, appalled and deeply upset to have been targeted by what appears to be an active campaign of smears and lies from hard-left activists and the MCB."

Jessica Simor

Livia Firth (R-3rd), founder and creative director, Eco-Age, Ulla Tørnaes (R-1st), Minister for Development Cooperation Denmark, Jessica Simor (R-2bd), lawyer, European Court of Human...

Change UK have also selected Jessica Simor QC - a highly-reputed human rights barrister - on their London candidates list.

Simor is a barrister for Matrix Chambers and she worked on R (Miller & Anor) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union & Ors [2017], challenging Theresa May's use of the Royal Prerogative to notify the EU of the UK's withdrawal.

After being unveiled as a Change UK MEP candidate, Simor said: "Returning from an inspirational launch event in Bristol. Incredible energy & a shared objective to work to repair a broken system. First step is to ensure that Brexit (absent the false promised benefits) isn’t imposed on the British people. Denying us a vote is denying democracy."

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