Change UK: The Independent Group registers as political party for European elections - but logo is rejected

Centre-ground party says it has had more than 3,700 applications from people wanting to stand as candidates but ballot papers will include blank space after electoral watchdog refuses proposed logo

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 16 April 2019 14:38
Who is part of the Independent Group?

The Independent Group of former Labour and Conservative MPs has successfully registered as a political party named "Change UK" to take part in next month's European Parliament elections.

The party will launch its election campaign next week and said it had already received more than 3,700 applications from people wanting to stand as candidates.

It is currently short-listing and interviewing people to whittle the number down to 70 candidates who will contest the elections on 23 May.

The government has said it does not want the UK to take part in the EU elections and insists it can still get a Brexit deal approved by parliament in time to cancel the polls.

But with cross-party talks on Brexit deadlocked and parliament having rejected Theresa May's plan on three occasions, political parties are gearing up to take part in the contest.

Heidi Allen, Change UK's interim leader, asked members of the public to donate money to the party's campaign.

She said: “This is a fight for Britain’s voice in Europe – and we have been overwhelmed by the thousands of people wanting to roll up their sleeves and join our campaign from every walk of life and every corner of the country.

“Change UK – The Independent Group have a clear message in the European elections: we demand a People’s Vote and, if it is held, all our MPs will campaign to remain in and reform the European Union.

“We will announce our MEP candidates at a launch event Tuesday next week. But we need more help to fix our broken politics, so we’ll be setting up our European Election Fighting Fund on our website to give us a chance to compete with the big established political parties. We are David, and they are Goliath - but we can do this together.”

However, the new party's campaign got off to a faltering start when its proposed logo was rejected by the Electoral Commission. The watchdog said the design was "likely to mislead voters" and "contains a link to online material".

It means the European Parliament election ballot papers will have an empty space next to Change UK's name.

The logo the party had submitted had the letters "TIG" in white text on a black background, with #Change written underneath.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “The emblem contained a hashtag, and we cannot assess the material linked to a hashtag, which will change over time, against the legal tests. The emblem also contained the acronym TIG, which we were not satisfied was sufficiently well known.”

The party can submit another design but it will come too late for this to appear on next month's ballot paper, meaning “there will be a blank space” next to Change UK candidates' names, the Commission said.

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