CHUKA UMUNNA has refused to hold a by-election in his London seat despite changing party twice since he won it.
He quit Labour to start anti-Brexit group Change UK in February then yesterday was unveiled as a new member of the Liberal Democrats.
But despite no longer representing the same party as when he was last elected in 2017, he is resisting pressure to let voters in Streatham decide if they now want a Lib Dem MP.
He defended his move by claiming locals chose him rather than his party – and that they support his call to stop Brexit.
Mr Umunna told a press conference: “First and foremost, under our constitution you elect individuals. Secondly, the biggest issue in my constituency – which scored the highest Remain vote in the land in 2016 – is Brexit.
“My constituents on the whole, the overwhelming amount of correspondence I’ve had today and in addition since I left the Labour Party has commended me for doing what I’ve done, which is a difficult thing.
I haven’t had people stopping me in the street and having a go at me
“I haven’t had people stopping me in the street and having a go at me.”
He dismissed calls for a “people’s vote” in Streatham given that he supports a second EU referendum.
“Ian Lavery, Labour Party chairman, loves to talk about a people’s vote when it comes to a by-election but he’s somehow allergic to the idea of having a people’s vote on the biggest question facing this country since the Second World War.”
Asked if he would fight a different constituency, he said he was “fully committed” to Streatham, where he was “born and bred”, but added that it would be “for the party to decide” where he stands at the next general election.
Outgoing Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable has wooed Mr Umunna for months and is expecting more defections following his anti-Brexit party’s strong showing at the European Parliament elections.
There is a home for you – it is the Liberal Democrats
The other MPs who left the failed Change UK project with Mr Umunna last week are expected to come over next, including Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen.
They could be followed by Tory MP Philip Lee who quit the Government last summer to call for a second referendum and is facing deselection from his local association.
Mr Umunna told his former comrades that Labour is “not being true to its progressive values” and added: “There is a home for you – it is the Liberal Democrats.”
Mr Umunna faced accusations of hypocrisy after critics unearthed criticisms he had previously made about the Lib Dems.
In 2013 he had posted on Twitter: “Vince Cable talks about increasing the minimum wage, but you can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say.”
The Sun Says
CHUKA Umunna has joined his perfect party, the kings of the mortifying U-turn.
In 2008 the Lib Dems demanded an EU referendum, then blocked one the Tories called for. In 2016 they lost one they didn’t want — now want another.
And who can forget them betraying students over scrapping tuition fees?
These chancers see a kindred spirit in Chuka, who said “working people won’t forgive the damage the Lib Dems did in government” before asking to join them.
Voters certainly WON’T forgive him.
Every day he refuses to call a by-election he treats them with contempt.
Then in 2015 he said Lib Dem leaders had “zero credibility” on university fees having “betrayed the British people.”
And just two years ago he wrote: “Whatever common ground we may have with LibDems & some Tories on Brexit I can’t forgive what they’ve done to my area.”
Addressing the comments yesterday, Mr Umunna said: “Four years on from this party’s time in office, things have changed. The Liberal Democrats have voted against every single one of the Conservatives’ budgets since 2015.”
MP's Ums and ers
CHUKA Umunna has been scathing in the past about Lib Dems.
2013: He said of leader Vince Cable, right, that he “talks about increasing the minimum wage, but you can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say”.
2015: Lib Dems have “zero credibility” on university fees and have “betrayed the British people”.
2017: On Lib Dems and Brexit: “I can’t forgive what they have done to my area.”
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