Change UK is an unequivocally pro-Remain party. London is an unequivocally pro-Remain city. I grew up in Hackney with Irish parents and friends with roots from all over the world, and none of us ever felt that this was not our city, or not our country. A friend who moved here in 1968 said to me today: “Coming to London was my salvation. I felt welcome here. London was open and inclusive, it was a home from home. But it’s starting to feel different.”
London was – and is – home to us all, in our schools, nurseries, hospitals, cafes, parks. The world is here in London, and to be part of that is a truly wonderful thing. We at Change UK, with our unambiguous support for a People’s Vote and for Remain, are fighting the European elections for London as it is, as it always has been, and as we want it to stay.
We respect and have solidarity with the other parties who are committed to Remain. On the matter of Brexit – the most urgent issue facing our country – our MPs and activists are working daily, both in parliament and in campaigns across the country, with the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens. There will come a time when the policy differences on other issues will matter more, but for now these differences can be put aside. There is a greater good at stake – stopping a catastrophic Brexit. Although Change UK is not taking part in this week’s local elections elsewhere, we’ve urged people to vote for fellow pro-Remain parties. A large pro-Remain vote in the local and forthcoming European elections will send a message to Labour and the Conservatives that they must change course. Right now, this is what matters above all else.
We have been asked why Change UK is not standing on a joint ticket with other pro-Remain parties to the European parliament. The answer is simple. Firstly, there are the technical difficulties, which have already been outlined by Chuka Ummuna MP. As Chuka has explained, “It is [legally] impossible to run one list of candidates unless you merge to form one party which, not unreasonably, none of us are prepared to do.” There was not the time to do in any case. But we are actively working together to fight Brexit. And to do so, we are putting our differences aside, not pretending they don’t exist. As Chuka also pointed out: “We are committed to the union which is the UK; the SNP and Plaid Cymru are not.” So merging just for the European elections would not be wholly honest, and if Change UK is standing for one thing above all others, it is the need to tell the truth in politics.
But above all, Change UK is offering something new in British politics. The existing smaller parties have, sadly, simply not made the impact needed to challenge the dominant traditional parties, while both Labour and the Conservatives are failing utterly to guide the country out of the path of a dangerous, destructive and divisive Brexit. Change UK is reaching out to those Remain voters who have no prior political allegiances, to those the other Remain parties have unfortunately failed to mobilise and, above all, to young people, who stand to lose the most from Brexit.
We are reaching out to European citizens, who we value and cherish and to whom we want to send our solidarity and support. We are reaching out to Tory voters who can see the impending economic disaster of Brexit. We are reaching out to life-long Labour voters who, like me, are deeply and profoundly disappointed by the Labour Party’s refusal to stand up for the internationalist values it once held dear. We are reaching out to the broadest possible alliance of people who value a kind, open, tolerant, proud, diverse, strong and prosperous capital and country. We are reaching out to Britain’s true patriots
Change UK is offering a more open, liberal politics, which can tolerate and celebrate differences within the party and show that people with different views can work together, enrich each other’s thinking and come to shared agreements. We are unequivocally in favour of a People’s Vote, and unequivocally pro-Remain. We are determined to make the case for both and we are welcoming of anyone who wants to help, both in London and everywhere else. We are asking people who feel the same to support us, join us and vote for us in the European Elections on 23 May.
Nora Mulready is a candidate for the London Region in the European elections.