Independent Group for Change agrees to ‘wind up’ as a political party

The Independent Group for Change is to start “winding up” as a political party following its general election failure, its leader Anna Soubry has confirmed.

The ex-Tory minister said the party’s management council had agreed the “process for closing” down and admitted it had been hard to “cut through as a distinctive political force” since its February inception.

The party, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel Johnson stood for at the European Parliament elections in May, fell short in its bid to elect any MPs at the general election.

Ms Soubry, in an open letter to members, said: “We need to be realistic and therefore we have agreed to start the process of winding up the party.”

Shockwaves rippled through Westminster in February when a breakaway group of seven Labour MPs, including senior figures Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, announced they had formed a new political movement known as The Independent Group (TIG).

The seven to quit Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party included Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith and Ann Coffey and they were soon followed by colleague Joan Ryan.

They protested against what they said had been a lack of action on anti-Semitism and a move to the left of the political spectrum under Mr Corbyn.

Known as the TIGgers as a result of the group’s initials, their numbers were boosted by the defection of three disgruntled Tories – Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry – with the MPs hopeful of creating a centre-ground and pro-Remain powerhouse.

TIGgers Change
TIGgers Change

But the group failed to take off following a dismal showing at the European elections and recriminations over its many name changes and leadership.

Five of its founders – Ms Berger, Ms Wollaston, Mr Umunna, Ms Allen and Ms Smith – would go on to join the Liberal Democrats after splitting with The Independent Group for Change.

Ms Soubry said the loss of those MPs dented the party’s ambitions but argued her cohort did manage to have an impact on British politics during its short existence.

“I do not doubt Labour shifted its position to a confirmatory second referendum because of the courageous move made by Chris, Mike, Ann, Joan and others,” said the former MP.

“We called out the dangers of the Conservative Party’s no-deal Brexit and identified the drift in the party further to the nationalist right wing.”