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‘Hundreds’ seeking to stand for Change UK in EU poll

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A former Labour councillor has declared his intention to stand as one of potentially hundreds of Change UK candidate in the EU Elections planned for next month.

The likelihood of the polls taking place increased last night after EU leaders granted the UK an extension to EU membership until the end of October.

The prime minister is still hoping to agree her EU withdrawal deal before the elections, scheduled for 23 May. However, Peter Stanyon, chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, told LGC returning officers had been planning as if the elections were going ahead, since the order requiring them to be held was laid in Parliament on Monday.

Candidates have until 25 April to declare their intention to stand. Change UK is not officially a political party yet, following its formation in February by a rebellion of Labour MPs angry over Labour’s failure to act over anti-semitism. It has also come out in favour of a second referendum over Brexit.

Warren Morgan, the former leader of Brighton & Hove DC, told LGC that when the party is formally registered, he will put his name in to become a candidate for the South East region.

He said:The success of UKIP in the 2014 election shows how successful we could be in theory. But the elections could be called off at the last minute. It’s a very unusual and unpredictable situation.

“But I am not doing anything else at the moment, so I thought, why not stand as a candidate?”

Mr Morgan said the recent People’s Vote march and the petition to revoke Article 50, which started the process of Britain leaving the EU, showed the strength of anti-Brexit feeling.

“If that kind of feeling is translated to the voting booth, then there is the potential scope for Change UK to make big gains in the election. We could have the support of a third of people who voted remain, which would be 20-25% of voters. It depends how soft the Labour vote is.”

A spokesperson for Change UK said the party’s application to form a political party was with the Electoral Commission.

“They have everything they asked for, so we hope – the ambition is to stand candidates in the EU elections.

“We haven’t got any candidates selected yet. But a lot of people have been in touch with us saying they want to stand… We are getting dozens of people every day. In all, it’s been hundreds.”

EU elections in Great Britain are conducted using a regional list system of proportional representation which means all political parties and individual candidates hoping to win one of a 74 regional seats appear on the ballot paper. Northern Ireland uses a single transferable vote system.

The Brexit Party, founded by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, is also expected to contest the EU elections.

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