+++Breaking…Chuka Umunna joins the Liberal Democrats

 

 

In an interview with the Times tonight, Chuka Umunna announces that he has joined the Liberal Democrats and becomes our 12th MP.

Chuka said:

“Time and time again when I was speaking to voters around the country and in my constituency, people were saying, ‘Well, look, why don’t you just join the Liberal Democrats? Why don’t you all come together in the progressive centre ground?’ ”

So he has swallowed his pride and joined the effort to make the Liberal Democrats the spearhead of a “new progressive movement in this country”.

Urging others to join him, he said the party’s success in the European elections showed the potential: “I think we’ve got to grab the chance to fundamentally change the system for ever now. And if we don’t do so, I think history will be a poor judge of us.”

A hugely warm welcome to him.

I might be a little annoyed that the Mail on Sunday got it broadly right but I am happy to see Chuka join us.

Vince, who also took part in that Times interview,  said that more MPs could follow the Streatham MP to the Lib Dems:

There are lots of conversations going on, some more intimate than others,” the outgoing party leader added. “Chuka joining us today is a big event in itself but there may well be others. I’m not going to make commitments on others’ behalf, they will make their own decisions in their own time.

“We have a very, very good relationship with members of the independent group,” he added in a clear hint that other members of the breakaway outfit are considering joining his party.

He said that the approaching threat of a no-deal Brexit would drive as many as 20 MPs out of the Tories. “I think there are probably a dozen to 20 who have mentally crossed the Rubicon that they can’t stay in the Conservative Party in its current form.”

From what I’m hearing, the local Lib Dem party have been absolutely brilliant as all this has been unfolding. Helen Thompson, who was selected as PPC for Streatham earlier this year, has just tweeted:

You can trust the Press Office to be sassy!

Senior Lib Dems have been welcoming Chuka:

While I am thrilled to bits to be welcoming Chuka, this development is slightly concerning as it means that Scottish Lib Dem MPs no longer outnumber London Lib Dem MPs, so we have to make sure that we remedy that situation – at the very least by electing Wemdy Chamberlain in North East Fife.

Featured photo on home page of Chuka Umunna is by Chatham House, Flickr CCL

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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29 Comments

  • He is very welcome & lets hope that he’s not the last.

  • Mark Goodrich 13th Jun '19 - 10:11pm

    Welcome Chuka! And I hope that we can be pragmatic and try to get him re-elected in Streatham rather than indulging in too much classic Lib Dem nitpicking about whether he is a true liberal…

    We could be in a general election pretty soon and the causes that we share are too important to be overly precious.

    I hope more of Change come across and we don’t get drawn into silly battles with continuity Change.

  • Roy Pounsford 13th Jun '19 - 10:25pm

    Welcome Chuka. We need to start working on your re-election as a LibDem.

  • This is brilliant news, that confirms the credible rumours over the last few days.

    I hope he goes on to play a major role in the Lib Dems.

    On the basis of the Euro elections, Streatham looks holdable.

  • Welcome to the Lib Dem’s Chukka! Let’s show the world we mean business.

    On a side note I’m really pleased to see someone from an ethnic minority join the Lib Dem’s as an MP. We are a broad and welcoming party but somehow struggled for ethnic minority’s MPs so this is great to see.

  • Politics is all about momentum. Twitter says Tory Philip Lee is one of those who might join us. The Government’s working majority is five, and of course next week we hear about the Brecon & Radnor recall petition. What happens if the Governmet falls before the Conservative Party’s leadership election is completed?!!

  • Joseph Bourke 13th Jun '19 - 10:45pm

    Very good news and a gracious welcome from Helen Thompson. Let’s hope that Rory Stewart realises he is flogging a dead horse trying to make the Conservative party see sense and does the same.

  • Aside from further TIGS joining the Lib Dem’s I do wonder just how bad things have to get in the Labour Party before more of their MPs start filling in Lib Dem membership forms. Further to this if just 3 Tories jump ship then the government could fall. Sadly I don’t think we’d be able to have a vote of confidence in the government before they elect Boris

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Jun '19 - 10:52pm

    Great news. I said years ago that Chuka Umunna and Sarah Wollaston should be in the party.

  • Welcome to Chuka, but I think some in this thread are getting just a wee bit carried away. Let’s celebrate being up to 12 MPs again. Anything else will be a bonus.
    As for Streatham, personally I would say it might be a better idea for him to try another seat. The Labour party there will be super-energised and determined to beat him if he stands for us (think how we would feel if one of our MPs did this. God forbid). Might be better to go elsewhere and start with a clean slate. But what do I know? I certainly agree our team in Streatham deserve a gold star for welcoming him so graciously.

  • Michael Sammon 13th Jun '19 - 11:19pm

    Great news. He has made a cracking statement too. Hoping for Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston next 🙂 by the way Chuka has 376,000 Twitter followers. Our party only has 265k. (going up as think it was 255k the other week). So this really is big.

  • Mark Smulian 13th Jun '19 - 11:23pm

    A peer who defects runs far less risk than does an MP with a seat to lose.
    I think it’s reasonably common knowledge that Chuka had an informal group of potential defectors even before the TIGgers launched and that an equivalent operation ran in the lords
    Yet no peer has defected as yet to Change UK, let alone the Lib Dems, Who or what holds them back? Just asking.

  • Neil Sandison 13th Jun '19 - 11:39pm

    Something exciting is happening in social liberal politics .First the local elections ,then excellent results in the EU elections ,2 very positive candidates contesting the leadership of the party and a quality MP like Chukka joining our ranks. Some of the recent articles on this site demonstrate we have our political appetite back as a modern progressive movement long may it continue.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Jun '19 - 12:14am

    As someone who has been involved in outreach activity to TIG-Change UK, I am so pleased about this, which I alluded to gently as a possibility in my article this week here.

    We must welcome Chuka wholeheartedly, thank Helen Thompson and the team in Streatham, and see that our party is outward looking, and looking like the UK we seek to represent.

  • If Boris is confirmed as Tory leader and PM then the UK has sunk to levels i didn’t think possible below even of that in the US government where ignorance and stupidity are rife. A real sadness in my heart grows watching the daily brexit news. But now hearing of Chuka joining the Libdems hopefully this will be the start of more MPs leaving the Labour, Tory parties and joining the reason and fact based side of the brexit argument. A new hope?

  • Great News. Welcome Chuka.

  • Kay Kirkham 14th Jun '19 - 9:02am

    Steve Comer – Bill Rogers didn’t change seats. There was a boundary change and a change of name. He could have moved to the more winnable Stockton South but opted the fight Stockton North which comprised more of his old seat.

  • Alex Macfie 14th Jun '19 - 9:34am

    Streatham Lib Dem candidate Helen Thompson’s warm welcome to former rival Chukka Umunna in the party has not, as far as I know, extended to her agreeing to step aside for him. And why should she do so? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Helen has already been selected for this Parliament. So if Chukka wants to continue as a Lib Dem MP, then it would have to be elsewhere that has a vacancy. Vauxhall might have been a possibility, but the local party has already selected there as well. I agree that we should not parachute him in anywhere, or give the appearance of doing so.

  • John Bicknell 14th Jun '19 - 12:47pm

    Whilst I do think there is value in Chuka Umunna standing down to fight a by-election, there is astonishing hypocrisy in Labour making this demand, when one has to go back to 1929 to find the last example of an MP defecting to them doing this, and disappointing that no-one ever calls them out to point this out.

  • Gordon Lishman 14th Jun '19 - 12:54pm

    Alex Macfie: Yes, Helen’s welcome has extended to stepping aside. And the new position is governed by the constitutional provisions relating to an MP in receipt of the Liberal Democrat whip.

  • Peter Hirst 14th Jun '19 - 1:21pm

    Let’s hope he is the first of many from all Parties to cross the rubicon. I’m sure he will be given a tremendous reception at Bournemouth and that he will be given sufficient space to inform us what he bring to our Party. We need to make full use of his undoubted talents.

  • Someone needs to defend Chuka against Owen Jones’s character assassination today in the Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/14/chuka-umunna-labour-liberal-democrat-hypocrisy

    Never read a more vicious and spiteful piece of journalism. This guy needs to get a taste of his own medicine

  • I am very happy to hear this, and I hope that other MPs—other TIGs and those in the Conservative and Labour Parties who are close to the center ground—will join Chuka Umunna.

  • @ King John Welcome to LDV. I’ve not noticed any posts from you before.

    Interested to read you comment, “Someone needs to defend Chuka against Owen Jones’s character assassination today in the Guardian”.

    I agree Mr Jones isn’t very keen on Mr Umunna, but could you tell us which factual part of his article is untrue ?

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Jun '19 - 10:12am

    @ David -1.

    If you want to know what discussions your leaders are having before they are announced to members, I suggest you hold your nose and start reading the Daily Mail.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Jun '19 - 10:29am

    @ King John,
    As an openly gay young man, I am sure that Owen Jones is no stranger to receiving vicious comments. I admire his resilience.

    The problem is, some self- defined defenders of ‘free speech,’, are remarkably thin skinned when the tables are turned and there is criticism of their views and behaviour.

    What has he written that you are objecting to?

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