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Pro-EU party launches poll campaign as UK MPs return from break

Pro-EU party launches poll campaign as UK MPs return from break

AFP
London
A new anti-Brexit political party launched its campaign Tuesday for next month’s European elections as British lawmakers returned from their Easter break amid rumours of fresh bids to topple Prime Minister Theresa May.
Britain is mired in a deep political crisis over its departure from the European Union, three years after a divisive referendum that voted to pull Britain out of the bloc after nearly half a century.
May was forced to ask EU leaders earlier this month to postpone Brexit for a second time -- from April 12 to October 31 -- after MPs repeatedly rejected the divorce deal she has struck with Brussels.
She is still hoping to persuade Labour to support the plan so the country can leave in time to avoid taking part in the European Parliament elections on May 23.
But with one month to go, few are expecting a consensus to emerge and Britain’s political parties old and new are scrambling to organise for the upcoming polls.
Change UK, formed by breakaway MPs from Britain’s two main parties disgruntled at their stances on Brexit, unveiled a roster of candidates at an event in Bristol in southwest England.
The list includes former Polish deputy prime minister Jan Vincent Rostowski and prominent columnist Rachel Johnson -- the sister of former foreign minister and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson.
Rachel Johnson told London’s Evening Standard newspaper she felt “impelled to stand up and be counted for what I believe in”.
Interim party leader Heidi Allen, who quit the Conservatives in February, said it had received 3,700 candidate applications, many from former Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and Green activists.
“This is the home of the Remain alliance,” she said, adding the elections are a chance to reiterate the need for a second referendum on Brexit. Anti-EU firebrand Nigel Farage launched his new Brexit Party’s campaign earlier this month, with Annunziata Rees-Mogg -- the sister of leading Tory eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg -- one of its candidates.
The former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader, who led that party to first place the last time Britain held European elections in 2014, has seen his new grouping surge in the polls since the launch.
It announced on Tuesday five more candidates, which include Claire Fox, a left-wing libertarian and regular TV pundit as it targets traditional, Brexit-leaning Labour constituencies.

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