Monday 18 March 2019 1:27 pm

Chuka Umunna downplays speculation Tory MP Nick Boles could join the Independent Group

Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna has downplayed suggestions Tory MP Nick Boles could join the Independent Group (TIG), saying he does not share the same "progressive values" of its members.

Asked why Boles, who quit his local party over his stance on Brexit, had not joined the rump of disaffected former Labour and Tory MPs, Umunna said: "I'm not sure that Nick shares the same progressive values that we do or progressive politics. He's essentially a Conservative by his own admission, which is why he will still take the Conservative whip at the national level."

Boles, the MP for Grantham and Stamford, has been vocal in his opposition to a no-deal Brexit, putting him at odds with his local association. Vice president Martin Hill said members had been "betrayed by their parliamentary representative" and demanded Boles take "honourable course" and quit as an MP.

Read more: Labour pains: Seven MPs quit to start new political alliance

However, Boles has said he is not "ready to give up on the Conservative party yet" and will continue to take the Conservative whip at Westminster.

The TIG was set up last month, initially by Umunna, Labour MPs Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Angela Smith. They were later joined by Labour MP Joan Ryan and Tories Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston.

In an interview with Sky News at Advertising Week Europe, Umunna said he would not be tempted to rejoin the Labour party even if Jeremy Corbyn was removed as leader.

He said Corbyn was "unfit to be Prime Minister" and was seen as a "messiah" in the Labour, as was former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Read more: The emergence of the Independent Group offers a hope for economic liberals

"One of the things I disliked about the Labour party was the idea you have this deity, messiah person who is going to solve all your problems and could no wrong. I would not ever want to be party of party that is ever like that again.

"I didn't agree with that when Tony Blair was the leader and he was sometimes he was held up as a messiah, and I certainly disagree with it under Jeremy Corbyn. It's not a grown up way to do politics and it demeans the people within the party."

 

 

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