Change UK would back Theresa May in confidence vote to avoid triggering general election, leader suggests

Lizzy Buchan
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Change UK would back Theresa May in confidence vote to avoid triggering general election, leader suggests

New centrist party Change UK could back the government in a no-confidence vote to avoid a damaging general election, its interim leader has said.

Former Tory MP Heidi Allen said an election was “absolutely the last thing” the country needs during the Brexit chaos, as she launched the party’s campaign for the upcoming European Parliament elections,

Her comments came as Theresa May faced pressure to name her departure date from frustrated Tory MPs after promising to resign once she had overseen the first stage of the Brexit process.

Asked if Change UK would support the government in a confidence vote, Ms Allen said: “It becomes very dramatic and exciting, ‘Oh, a general election'.

“But actually it is absolutely the last thing this country needs right now.

“What on earth would the main parties stand on? The Labour party and the Tory party are in absolute meltdown, they are like tectonic plates beneath the surface, absolutely shifted.”

She added: “Would MPs vote for a general election in House of Commons? Absolutely not. I would be very surprised if they did.

“What we need to do is continue fighting as we are to demand better for our country.

"A general election is not the solution… the crisis on our doorstep is Brexit and we will only solve that with a People’s Vote.”

It comes as Change UK unveiled its 70-strong slate for next month's elections, which includes journalist Rachel Johnson, sister of Brexiteer Boris Johnson, and former BBC Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler.

Speaking after the launch in Bristol, Ms Allen said she "daren't even think" about what the party would do if Ms May was replaced by a Brexiteer, such as Boris Johnson.

She also dismissed questions over lack of clarity on what Change UK stands for, apart from its support for a second Brexit referendum.

Ms Allen told The Independent: "Yes there will be things that we will disagree on for sure. [Ex-Labour MP] Chris Leslie jokes that I am more left-wing on welfare than he is.

"But the point is if we can back policy between us and come up with a compromise, isn't that a great sign that we can sell that to the British public as they are broadly in the centre ground?"

Ms Allen said the party would be the "perfect testing machine" before putting policies to the public, but Brexit had consumed so much bandwidth that it prevented the group from kicking off a national tour to build its policy agenda.

Change UK hopes to begin to build a policy platform in the "short term", ideally starting before the European elections, she said.

Ms Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire, first revealed that the group would not do anything that would facilitate a general election - including supporting a confidence vote - in an exclusive interview with The Independent.