High-profile UK political defection highlights Brexit schism


FILE – In this file photo dated Monday, April 1, 2019, Britain’s lawmaker Chuka Umunna arrives at 10 Downing Street for a knife crime summit in London. Umunna quit the Labour Party earlier this year to help form a pro-European new political party, but has now moved to join the centrist Liberal Democrats, and is quoted Friday June 14, 2019, in The Times of London, saying the Lib Dems are best placed to stop Brexit.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)

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LONDON (AP) — 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.

Chuka Umunna’s move is the latest sign of Brexit-driven cracks in Britain’s established political order.

Umunna and 10 other lawmakers left Labour and the Conservatives in February to set up new party Change UK. It then split after poor results in European Parliament elections last month. The struggling new party also has to change its name after a legal challenge from petitions website Change.org.

The Lib Dems, who saw a big rise in their vote share in the European election, are urging pro-EU politicians to join them and fight for a new referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

Umunna told Friday’s Times of London newspaper that he had “vastly underestimated” how hard it is to start a new political party. He said the Liberal Democrats were best placed to stop Brexit.

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