'At least 200 people have applied to stand as candidates for the new Independent Group if the UK takes part in European elections next month – amid growing signs that the contest could turn into a “proxy referendum” on whether to leave or remain in the EU.
The Observer has been told that one pro-EU former Tory cabinet minister and several former MPs and MEPs from the main parties have also put their names forward in the hope of being selected by TIG. If the UK has to extend its membership by several more months, the EU has made clear it will have to take part in elections to the Brussels and Strasbourg parliament on 23 May.
The Independent Group’s team of eight former Labour and three former Tory MPs – all strongly pro-Remain and in favour of a second referendum – have applied to the Electoral Commission to register as a party and take part in the elections under the name Change UK – The Independent Group.
They believe the May elections across the EU could serve as an ideal and timely electoral launchpad for their fledgling party, and plan to use the slogan #rulemakersnotruletakers.
They want to stand candidates for all 73 seats across the 12 UK regions and believe the contest, conducted under a regional-list system in which seats are allocated to parties in proportion to their share of the vote, could give them their first electoral successes, particularly in the Remain-dominated London and South East regions.'
Read more: The Independent Group looks to European elections for breakthrough
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