A coalition of anti-Brexit Members of Parliament could form a government of national unity at the next general election, according to the independent MP overseeing it, Heidi Allen.
Allen — who quit new centrist party Change UK in June after defecting from the Conservative party earlier in the year — last week unveiled plans for an alliance of anti-Brexit parties called “Unite to Remain.”
It is hoped that anti-Brexit parties — the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Change UK, and Plaid Cymru — will agree to stand aside for one another in seats at the next general election, in order to maximise the chances of a pro-Remain candidate winning.
Allen told Business Insider this week that she believed an alliance could return enough “pro-Remain, moderate, outward-looking MPs” to form a government at the next election, which she believes could be in the next few months.
“I don’t believe either Corbyn or Boris-Farage is the kind of Parliament or country that we want, so we have to get ourselves together to form that moderate, progressive bloc that can alter the weather,” she said.
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Allen predicted that more MPs would quit the Conservatives and Labour and join the growing group of independent MPs. This “independent space” could form the basis of an emergency government, she said.
“That’s another of the reasons why I and some of the others have stayed as independents.
“There will be flux from both sides and those MPs are not going to join Change UK or the Lib Dems. We need an independent space in the middle which can respond and possibly form a government of national unity if we need it.”
Allen, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, said she had already had a number of meetings with the Electoral Commission about how Unite to Remain would work in practical terms at the next general election.
The plan is for candidates to share a descriptor, which would appear next to the name of their party on the ballot paper. For example, “the Liberal Democrats — Unite to Remain.” They are also discussing having a shared logo.
Allen said she first came up with the idea during the European Parliament elections, which saw the anti-Brexit vote split across a number of parties, and her former party Change UK fail to win a seat.
“People were just relentlessly saying to me, ‘why can’t the Remain parties get their act together and work together?’ and ‘don’t split the Remain vote’,” she told Business Insider this week.
Allen said that if the Remain movement is to succeed, and ultimately stop Brexit, “it can’t be about party-first.”
“Party-first is what has got us into this mess by creating an opposition that’s not fit for a purpose and a prime minister that’s been bullied into a corner,” the former Conservative MP said.
“This is a real moment in time for MPs to stand up and be counted, and there’s definitely an appetite for doing things differently.”
Allen said she had been “genuinely and pleasantly surprised by the appetite for” Unite to Remain, and revealed that both candidates to be Lib Dem leader — Jo Swinson and Ed Davey — were enthusiastic about the plan.
Allen has asked an ex-Lib Dem official to oversee Unite to Remain’s seat-by-seat analysis of which parties should stand aside. She told Business Insider that “geek” Peter Dunphy, the Lib Dems’ former head of financial compliance, was crunching election results and polling to work out who should stand aside and where.
Allen acknowledged that she may be told to stand aside in her seats of South Cambridgeshire.
“I am a jigsaw piece in this puzzle. The ambition is that every seat where we can make difference, we identify who can be the strongest candidate,” she told Business Insider.
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She said that as well as becoming organised, the United Kingdom’s Remain wing needed to become more “aggressive” and “angry” about the government’s handling of Brexit and the general direction of the country.
“It’s often the way in life that the noisy ones are the ones who get things done,” she said.
“The moderates are not the confrontational ones and have been too calm. We haven’t been aggressive or angry enough. Whereas the Leave voice through Farage has been very angry.
“We’re peaceful collaborators by nature which means we aren’t quite as noisy. That’s where we have gone wrong.”
She said that the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming prime minister, potentially propped up by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, was “concentrating minds” among MPs.
“There’s the obvious expression of ‘this will be tricky’ but it is eclipsed by ‘we’ve got to try’ — and people are really keen to try and do that. It could be the start of something much bigger,” she told Business Insider.
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