LONDON — You’ve met the Faragists. Now meet their would-be nemesis.
After an Easter break from Brexit, the U.K.’s unscheduled European election was back in full swing this week with the campaign launch of a new, fiercely pro-EU political force, Change UK.
The party, founded originally as The Independent Group of 11 rebel Labour and Conservative MPs only nine weeks ago, is fielding a full list of 70 candidates and has every chance of sending at least a few MEPs to Brussels. The party list includes a former Conservative Cabinet minister, an ex-deputy prime minister of Poland, and the sister of former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson.
The party is light on detailed policy, but in an election that is likely to become a straw poll on Brexit, it is pitching itself as the nemesis of Nigel Farage’s new vehicle, the Brexit Party. It could yet do well, delivering a new group of British MEPs likely to align with centrist forces like Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche party in the European Parliament.
Ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna, its most prominent figurehead, is happy to be labelled “the anti-Farage.”
“Listen, I’ve [been labelled] ‘the British this,’ ‘the black that.’ Why can’t we just be who we are?” — Chuka Umunna, former Labour MP
“I’d be happy to debate him, more than happy,” Umunna told POLITICO following a televised campaign launch in Bristol, southwest England, on Tuesday. “The Labour Party don’t take him on properly … and the Conservative Party has been hijacked by Farage and his agenda. So who is actually standing up for the majority of the British mainstream who abhor that kind of intolerant,