Heidi Allen launches new cross-party anti-Brexit initiative, Unite to Remain

A quick recap first: eight Labour and three Conservative MPs left their respective parties to form what became known as Change UK.

After the European Parliament elections, six of those left Change UK. One of them – Chuka Umunna – joined the Liberal Democrats and four of the other five departees have now teamed up with former Labour MP John Woodcock to form The Independents. (The fifth, Sarah Wollaston, has not joined the new group, remaining an independent rather than becoming an Independent, as it were.)

The Independents have described as a co-operative, with plans it appears to operate more as the sort of umbrella grouping rather than a formal party that I originally speculated might be the best route for Change UK:

We are not a party, but a co-operative of independents working together.

One of this new grouping is Heidi Allen, who has also launched a new cross-party initiative, Unite to Remain:

We are bringing together great MPs, Remain party machinery, the latest polling, data insights and donations in the biggest drive yet to equalise the ability of Remain parties, and free-thinking Independent MPs to break through the first past the post electoral system. We will be the facilitator – providing resources and space for new discussions between MPs, encouraging them to agree to work together for the greater goal.

Or, as I understand it, this initiative will try to broker electoral deals between Remain parties to maximise their impact under first past the post. We’ve seen some signs of this previously, particularly between the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. A mix of general election and local election arrangements have been made between these two parties in various places including both Vince Cable and Layla Moran’s constituencies as well as in Richmond Park.

Things are going a step further in the Brecon and Radnorshire Parliamentary by-election with Plaid joining the Greens in backing the Liberal Democrats, as are Renew. That’s great news for Jane Dodds.

The scope for such deals is much reduced in Scotland given the additional dividing line there over independence, one which splits the Remain camp and both Ed Davey and Jo Swinson have very cool on the idea of pacts with the SNP.

Elsewhere, however, Ed Davey has made some positive noises, especially for Boris Johnson’s constituency, but also expressed significant scepticism about how many other seats such pacts might be practical and useful for. Jo Swinson, by contrast, has been more positive about the potential for cross-party arrangements, both more generally and also to defeat Brexit. That makes this issue one of the key choices in the leadership contest.

10 responses to “Heidi Allen launches new cross-party anti-Brexit initiative, Unite to Remain”

  1. Smaller parties may want to enter into pacts with the Lib’s but, if we are to be taken seriously at elections then, we must stand alone and, let those Independent or others make their minds up to join the Lib Dem party which, they seem to be a little sniffy about, they, ( other parties ) can only gain in such a pact. They may wish to have a more free ride to electoral success with our compliance but seem not to want to actually be associated with the Lib Dem’s. is it because they feel we are still tainted by the coalition ? If so then, let them look at the success we’ve had in the local and EU elections and compare them to theirs, the comparison is obvious. Thanks to them for standing aside in Brecon but, other than splitting the vote, what other outcome would they expect to achieve. Ed Davey is right to be cautious, he has my vote.

  2. “Things are going a step further in the Brecon and Radnorshire Parliamentary by-election with Plaid joining the Greens in backing the Liberal Democrats, as are Renew. That’s great news for Jane Dodds.”

    It’s not that great. Plaid and Greens have a pitiful following in B and R. Renew have no following anywhere.

    This’ll make no difference to the outcome, which is dependent on hard work by the Lib Dems over decades in the constituency.

    Lib Dem success nationally is dependent on Lib Dem presence and hard work.

    We’ve been throught his once already recently with ludicrous hyping of the original Tiggers by some Lib Dems, who would have had us stand down candidates in many áreas in favour of TIG.

    Thank goodness TIG made the decisión NOT to cooperate at the Euros. Otherwise, we’d have doubtless had apologists for co-ooperation claiming the Remain Alliance’s great result was down to the very fact of co-operation.

    We need to be more hard-headed.

  3. The setting up of yet another “initiative” which awards itself some over-arching role in knitting together Remainers I find pretty off-putting and entitled.

    Instead of messing around in this ineffectual way, Heidi Allen and others should do something concrete and get stuck in with the Lib Dems.

  4. The number of constituencies where a pact would make a difference is small. Ed is right about that. But it could still be crucial in a close election. After all, the last three general elections have been very close between Conservatives and Labour.

    I think fred’s comments can be summarised as “smaller parties are welcome to stand down for us, but we’ll never stand down for them.” Doesn’t sound like a long-term strategy to me. There are probably five or so constituencies where Plaid Cymru could win or could lose to Brexiteer or Ambiguous (Labour) opposition, but we can’t win next time; and two mor three more where we might win and their support could possibly make the difference. I have to be vague here because of the boundary revisions. The Politicians Formerly Known as Change UK are another case. Probably only Heidi Allen occupies a constituency we might win without a landslide and it would be helpful to have some kind of policy to help us decide whether to back them, en masse or case by case. In any case, nothing must be imposed on the local party.

    The room for co-operation is much greater at local election level and in terms of policy discussions (not common policy) and this is not just on Brexit. If we show willingness to talk with others and listen, that could well recruit better for us than “join us or taste cold steel”.

  5. Imagine if we were the leading part of an Alliance Polling 30% instead of our present 19-20%, how that would transform our Politics.
    That is the prize we should be aiming for.

  6. I feel somewhat disappointed by the negativity expressed so far about the Unite to Remain initiative. We need to keep our focus on what matters, which is the advancement of the policies that we support, such as stopping Brexit, electoral reform and protecting the environment. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what party ends up claiming the credit, if our policies get enacted.

    Thus I feel reasonably relaxed about, say, Greens or Heidi Allen, apparently getting advantage in comparison to LibDems out of some deal, if the result is positive overall in achieving our policies. We can afford to and should err slightly on the side of generosity to Greens, Plaid etc., if by doing so we avoid the horror of a Johnson/Farage coalition.

    It will get us nowhere to demand that Greens etc. always defer to LibDems and then fail to give anything in return. At the same time we need to be reasonably hard headed about it and not just accede to all demands. A sensible frank discussion and an agreed formula for assessing what co-operation would achieve the best result for the Remain coalition overall is what is needed, and Heidi Allen, as a genuine independent is well placed to facilitate this, so I support her initiative.

    • I agree with you,Stephen.It is absolutely vital to have a Remain coalition so as to beat Johnson/Farage. Heidi Allen’s initiative should be supported and Jo Swinson could play a great role to achieve cooperation on the Remain side.

  7. I totally agree with Stephen Ford. I joined the Liberal Party because I believed in proportional representation (that was 60 years ago, and my belief has not diminished and looking at the pickle the country is in now that’s just as well!), and I don’t care how many different parties come together to achieve it. Once it’s achieved, then pacts cease to be necessary and become a thing of the past. To me the key question in each constituency is: which candidate, regardless of which formal party s/he is in, supports PR? I will vote for that candidate. Other candidates who support PR but have less chance of winning should stand aside, just this once. What matters is getting a majority in the next Parliament to enact PR. We should also, of course, offer our prospective allies something in return. I was party chairman in Hampshire in the early 1980s when we negotiated the deal with the newly-formed SDP. We reached agreement after a day’s hard bargaining but each with his honour intact and no one crowing about how they got the better of the deal or the better of the other party.

  8. The self-importance before group, together, way of life, principles based similarity we share in everything when we sit together and listen,is what I have insisted be the foundations and mortar in the Remain Movement. Now we have a different problem. This Parliament will act on the government’s failed project to leave the EU. We need 326 real MPs to Unite to end it or Conservative MPs will see a motley table at the gates of Westminster. I insist we become disciplined to win seats. We must do so because most of the MPs at Westminster are decent people but afraid of consequences of the crisis in our democracy. Against them is populism, so good people suffer the ignominy of insults because of the torrid 73 and 99 who actually voted this week to prevent a woman in Northern Ireland from the same right to abortion of her fellow citizens elsewhere in our country and again to deny the right of marriage to one’s sexual preference as happens everywhere else in the country.

    Be clear we are at war to save our way of life. If you think it can be achieved alone go onto a hilltop and rage against a howling gale.

    However I have asked Dick Newby to set up the Alliance with a capital A thing, but Heidi Allen, who refused it earlier, now wants to claim it. Her arrogance is the enemy of working together but still I ask every one of us to do it. She is an MP with one of those votes. Vince Cable’s Movement is gaining traction. Those amongst you involved in social media and party marketing feel free to call it what it is. That’s Heidi Allen finally agreeing to join Vince Cable’s Movement. Then everyone else, including the MPs stuck in Labour and Conservatives will trust and join us.

    I’m now after a Unity government with Ed or Jo in Number 10 but I think everyone will find that a hard pill to swallow. Vince on the other hand, the nation will follow, so let’s make it happen please.

  9. I whole heartedly welcome the alliance as this gives a much greater chance of success in the first past the post electoral system. Having a hard-nosed stance on this (ie “they should join the Libdems”) just wont work. An alliance would demonstrate a new way of doing politics which is just what many people want to see (and would only help attracting more votes in any general election). Let’s focus on what we all have in common, not petty differences.

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