Rachel Johnson reveals plans to stand as Change UK European elections candidate and takes swipe at brother Boris

JOE MURPHY, NIcholas Cecil

Rachel Johnson, sister of Boris, today revealed she is standing as a European election candidate — and took a swipe at her Brexiteer brother.

Talking exclusively to the Evening Standard, the campaigning journalist said she will stand in the South West region for Change UK, the pro-Remain party set up by The Independent Group of MPs.

She said she was taking a stand against a Brexit that would deny young people the freedoms that Brexiteers themselves enjoyed to live and work in the European Union.

Ms Johnson said she did not want to see Brexit “rubbing out my children’s prospects and chances of living and travelling and working in Europe”.

She said: “These are chances that the politicians who decided to campaign to Leave have enjoyed themselves.

Rachel Johnson is standing in the European elections as a candidate for Change UK (Dave Benett)

“It is simply not fair — and sometimes one has to stand up and be counted. It is now that time for me.”

Ms Johnson added: “A vote to leave the EU is so important, so life-changing for the next two generations that I am impelled to stand up and be counted for what I believe in, which is that we are far better in Europe.”

Former cross-party members of The Independent Group (AFP/Getty Images)

Former foreign secretary Mr Johnson made his name as a journalist working in Brussels and writing about the European Commission.

Ms Johnson, a writer and journalist, said of her candidacy: “I’m honoured they have picked me to stand in the South West, which is where I call home. I went to school there, my father was born in Penzance and we have family dating back to the 1600s in my local village.”

(Dave Benett)

She said she had called her brother to tell him she was running, but declined to reveal his reaction.

Ms Johnson has previously supported the Liberal Democrats and her candidacy for Change UK will be a blow to them. She has also campaigned in elections for siblings Boris and Jo, the Tory MP and former universities minister, as well as her father Stanley, a former MEP.

She was set to be the big surprise when Change UK unveiled their nationwide list of candidates at a launch in Bristol.

Others include Gavin Esler, the former BBC Newsnight presenter, and a clutch of former Conservative and Labour MPs and MEPs who have switched parties to campaign against Brexit.

Former Tory health secretary Stephen Dorrell will stand in the West Midlands, with ex-Tory MP Neil Carmichael running in the East of England.

In London, candidates include former Labour MEP Carole Tongue and Karen Newman, a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, plus human rights barrister Jessica Simor QC, one of the lawyers who secured the parliamentary vote on Article 50.

Former Labour Wimbledon MP Roger Casale is standing in East of England.

Writing in today’s Standard, the Change UK co-founder MP Chuka Umunna calls the elections “a historic turning point” for the nation.

“There are two paths open to us: one where we pull up the drawbridge, walk away from our friends and partners, and sink further into a politics of division; or one where we put an end to this bitterness, and embrace the openness and diversity which is the UK at its best,” he writes. “That’s why these elections are so important.”

Heidi Allen, the former Tory MP and interim leader of Change UK, claimed the mixture of candidates meant they had become a “Remain Alliance” capable of bringing together anti-Brexit voters from all political backgrounds.

“We left our political parties because they have let the country down. And we’re not alone, with so many others doing the same from Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems to stand as our candidates we are today the ‘Remain Alliance’ party for these European elections.”

Former Labour MP Chris Leslie, who left the party for The Independent Group, said: “When a vote for Corbyn’s Labour means facilitating Brexit, and a vote for the Tories is an endorsement for their europhobia, we have come together give people a clearer alternative.”

Nigel Farage unveiled five new candidates for his Brexit Party, which is leading the polls, to stand in the European elections, including former Royal Marine James Glancy who was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

Theresa May chaired a Cabinet meeting this morning and ordered further talks with Labour in an effort to find a way of getting a Brexit deal through Parliament and be able to cancel the European elections.