Change UK appeals for support from Labour members to stop Brexit

Change UK has urged Labour members disillusioned over their party’s position on Brexit to “lend” it their votes in the European elections.

Chuka Umunna, Change UK spokesman, said Labour had nothing to offer but “prevarication” when it came to a second EU referendum.

Speaking at a rally in London, he told supporters the better Change UK did in the European elections on May 23, the more likely it was that Labour would swing behind another popular vote.

Change UK rally
Chuka Umunna speaks as Anna Soubry and other Change UK members watch on during a rally in Westminster (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Don’t endorse that prevarication. Vote for Change UK,” he said in a direct appeal to Labour members.

“Or at the very least, if you haven’t made up your mind what you will do at the next general election, lend us your vote in these European elections.

“The better we do, the more likely you are to see the Labour leadership adopt a People’s Vote and Remain position.”

The breakaway Change UK is made up of 11 pro-Remain former Labour and Conservative MPs who quit their parties in protest at the direction they were taking.

Veteran former Labour MP Mike Gapes told the rally that Labour would never come out against leaving the EU.

He said Jeremy Corbyn had voted against membership of Europe in the 1975 referendum and had “kept the faith” ever since.

Mike Gapes speaks during a Change UK rally at Church House in Westminster, London
Mike Gapes speaks during the rally at Church House (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Jeremy Corbyn and those he has appointed around him, like (communications director) Seumas Milne, have never wanted to stop Brexit,” he said.

“Corbyn whipped Labour MPs to vote for Article 50, he whipped Labour MPs not to support a People’s Vote.

“Whatever contortions and forms of words they come up with today, it is clear that large, influential parts of the Labour leadership will not oppose Brexit.”

Former BBC Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler, who is now standing as a Change UK candidate, attacked Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, accusing him of trying to sell a “crappy fake Ferrari”.

Gavin Esler speaks during a Change UK rally at Church House in Westminster, London
Gavin Esler is standing as a Change UK candidate (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He said Mr Farage offered a vision of a country that was “racially divided, wants to turn us away from real co-operation with Europe, and who, like his friend Donald Trump, has stirred up a meanness in our society”.

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