High-profile United Kingdom political defection highlights Brexit schism

European Parliament election

European Parliament election

Change UK - formerly known as The Independent Group - was formed by MPs who quit Labour and then joined by some former Conservatives.

Mr Umunna said he had realised "there isn't room for more than one centre ground option" in British politics.

He said: "Labour and the Tories are committed to facilitating Brexit, and Brexit makes ending austerity virtually impossible".

It pledged to push for any Brexit deal negotiated by the government to be voted on at a referendum - or "People's Vote" - in which it would campaign for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said "We've had conversations with a number of MPs before and since Change UK happened".

"I know that he 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", Mr Cable added.

A prominent British lawmaker who quit the Labour Party to try to form a new pro-European political force has moved on again, this time joining the centrist Liberal Democrats.

When asked by the Times if he was prepared for a backlash from his former colleagues, Mr Umunna said: "I've got a pretty thick skin".

"You don't leave all of the political security of what are the two main par ties if you're out for self-advancement".

But his decision is an about-turn on his position just months ago, and he told the paper he was "wrong" to believe the United Kingdom needed a new political party.

In another previous tweet from 2013, Mr Umunna said: "Vince Cable talks about increasing the minimum wage, but you can't trust a word the Lib Dems say".

He was widely expected to become the leader of Change UK, but ended up as party spokesman instead.

One post which has now gone viral saw Mr Umunna write: "I could never ever countenance suggesting voters support Liberal Democrat or Conservative candidates on account of their Remain credentials - this would require turning a blind eye to the cuts to our local schools, the NHS and other public services instigated by both parties in Government from 2010 to 2015 and carried on by the Tories alone since 2015, which all our communities are now suffering from".

Jo Swinson said the Lib Dems were "the rallying point for people who want to stop Brexit and fight the climate crisis", while Ed Davey praised the Streatham MP's "huge courage".

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