Change UK: Independent MPs’ group registered as a party
However, Electoral Commission rejects the new party’s official logo
The Electoral Commission has formally approved The Independent Group’s application to register as a political party, meaning it can put forward candidates in the European elections due to take place on 23 May.
The collection of 11 former Labour and Tory MPs who quit their parties in February will be known as Change UK.
However, the party's logo was rejected. A spokeswoman for the Commission said: “The emblem contained a hashtag, and we cannot assess the material linked to a hashtag, which will change over time, against the legal tests. The emblem also contained the acronym TIG, which we were not satisfied was sufficiently well known.”
A watchdog had also waded in to enforce rules that prevent political parties using “independent” in the title.
The development prompted mockery from critics. Commenting on the news, Labour MP Jon Trickett tweeted: “Chukka and mates fail to register a logo. All they will have is a blank space on ballot papers. Exactly!! How appropriate.”
The centrist grouping, which is led by the former Tory Heidi Allen, claims it has received more than 3,700 expressions of interest in being a candidate in the European elections, should Britain take part in them. Opinion polls put it at about 4-7% for the contest, meaning it could get elected MEPs.
The milestone means that the group will face further scrutiny. After becoming a political party, Change UK now has to file spending and donation information. It was previously registered as a private company and was therefore exempt from the same rules as other groupings in parliament, prompting speculation over who was backing it.
It was launched when eight Labour MPs broke away from the party citing concerns over antisemitism and Brexit in February. The former Labour MPs - Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Joan Ryan and Make Gapes – were joined by three Conservative MPs: Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.
Meanwhile, two Conservative MEPs, Julie Girling and Richard Ashworth, have announced that they are joining Change UK and hope to stand as candidates in the European elections.
Girling said she was “fully committed to a People’s Vote on Brexit” and was “looking forward to being able to use my extensive experience as part of the Change UK team”.