Rachel Johnson and Gavin Esler to stand for Change UK

The anti-Brexit party Change UK – The Independent Group has announced its candidates for next month’s European elections after receiving more than 3,700 applications.

Rachel Johnson, the sister of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, and the broadcast journalist Gavin Esler – who said Brexit was based on “cheating and lies” and was sick of the likes of Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg selling “snake oil” – will both stand.

Other candidates include former Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat politicians and activists, as well as people with no previous political affiliation or involvement.

Alongside “disillusioned” seasoned politicians, the candidates included teachers nurses, carers, former armed forces personnel and public and private sector workers.

Esler added: “I have never been a member of a political party but I am now.
“I have never been a candidate in an election but I am now. I have never been seriously worried about the future of our country but I am now. Our political system is a joke. It is a worldwide joke. They are laughing at us – not with us, at us.”

There was no mention of Rachel Johnson at the Bristol event but she was there.

Andrea Cooper, a candidate in the north-west said she had no political background but was an “everyday woman from Liverpool” who worked with young people. “The main political parties are letting us down,” she said.

During a question and answer session, a member of the invited audience, Penny, from Bristol, said she was “totally obsessed” with the UK staying in the EU. But she said she wanted to hear more about the party’s other policies. She was told other policies would be announced.

The leaders batted away suggestions that people may be confused at the array of parties who had similar views.

Anna Soubry, the former Tory MP, said she was sure the British people would understand what the “Tiggers” (a nickname that comes from The Independent Group) would get what the party stood for. “I think it’s very simple,” she said.

The party chose the We The Curious science centre in Bristol for its launch, during which 50 of its candidates perched on a stage against a backdrop of posters featuring brightly coloured stripes. One observer described the scene as resembling a “trendy sweet shop”.

The politicians and workers have had to pull the launch together speedily after Farage’s new Brexit party surged past Labour and the Conservative party in an opinion poll.

Heidi Allen, the former Tory MP, described the candidates as “Tiggers”, adding: “This is no rebel alliance, this is the home of the remain alliance. If you’re fed up with our broken politics join us.”

She said the MPs who defected had no choice but to say, “enough is enough”. She said the Tories had moved further to the right and Labour had let the country down.

Change UK is calling on voters disillusioned by the chaos of Brexit and the politics of Farage and Ukip to vote for the party to send a strong message to the established parties that they want a change in direction.

It says the individual stance of Labour or Tory MEPs who claim to support a people’s vote is irrelevant because it is the party and not the individual on the ballot paper.

The party claims every Labour or Tory MEP candidate is a sponsor of Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May’s stance on Brexit.

Change UK has morphed out of the The Independent Group, which was formed after eight Labour MPs and three Tory MPs left their parties in February.

In March, the group applied to become a party and was given approval in April, meaning they could field candidates in the European elections.

Source: theguardian.com