Watch again: Chuka Umunna speaks after defecting to the Lib Dems

Chuka Umunna in October 2017.
Chuka Umunna in October 2017. Copyright Flickr/Chatham House
Copyright Flickr/Chatham House
By Alice Tidey
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The Streatham MP quit the Labour party in February to co-found the pro-EU Change UK group but quit last week after a dismal result at the European elections.


British MP Chuka Umunna, who defected from Labour in February to co-found the centrist Change UK party, announced on Thursday that he has joined the Liberal Democrats.

You can watch his press conference live in the video player above from 13.15 CEST.

"It's quite clear that there isn't room for more than one centre-ground option," Umunna told the Today programme on Friday morning.

"I thought that the millions of politically homeless people in the radical centre-ground of British politics (...) wanted a new party and I was wrong about that," he added by way of explanation.

The Streatham (in South London) MP, was one of six lawmakers to quit Change UK last week over the party's dismal showing at the European elections.

READ MORE: Change UK loses six of its 11 MPs after poor EU elections result

'Great asset'

Formerly known as the Independent Group, Change UK was created in February by seven MPs from the main opposition Labour party dissatisfied with leader Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit strategy and the handling of an antisemitism scandal. They were subsequently joined by four more lawmakers, including three from the ruling Conservatives.

They hoped their anti-Brexit position and pledge for a second referendum would result in a surge of support in the European parliamentary elections held on May 23-26 but the party only scored 3.3% and failed to win a single seat.

Meanwhile, the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats — who had been heavily punished by voters in the 2017 snap elections for measures introduced while they were in the ruling coalition with the Conservatives — finished second in the European ballot with 19.6%.

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in a statement that Umunna "will be a great asset to our party not just on Brexit, but in fighting for the liberal and social democratic values that we share."

The party now counts 12 MPs in parliament while Change UK — which announced on Thursday that it would apply to amend its name to The Independent Group for Change after being threatened with legal action — is down to just five lawmakers.

Euronews has reached out to Change UK for a comment.

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