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The Independent Group: Breakaway MPs make first official appointment | Politics News

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The group of 11 MPs who broke away from Labour and the Conservatives have made their first official appointment – but have yet to pick a leader.

The Independent Group (TIG) – made up of eight former Labour MPs and three former Tories – held their first meeting in Westminster on Monday.

They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Joan Ryan, Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston.

MPs who have formed the new Independent Group depart following their first meeting
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Gavin Shuker (centre) was unanimously chosen as the group’s convener

Afterwards, they announced that Luton South MP Mr Shuker has been unanimously elected to the role of convener.

The group said they had discussed its values and priorities, but former Conservative Ms Soubry said the prime focus was Brexit.

The MP for Broxtowe said the group would be supporting an amendment from Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory MP Oliver Letwin to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

She said: “The most important thing this week is Brexit.

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“We know we have the Cooper-Letwin amendment, I don’t think there’s any doubt about the fact we will be supporting it.”

Parliamentary business was the “most important thing we can be doing”, Mr Shuker said.

Ms Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire said: “We have just had a really good first meeting, discussing a lot of things structural around process, values and priorities.

“We have elected Gavin (Shuker) as convener. That was a unanimous choice.”

Mr Umunna said at the weekend that TIG was not yet a party or a movement, with a fully-fledged programme for government, but simply a collection of independent MPs.

Members have previously said they all share a “non-tribal” belief in “progressive” values and unhappiness with the directions of their former parties, particularly on Brexit.

They have yet to formally establish themselves as a political party, although this is expected to happen at some point in the future.

Mr Umma has played down reports he is the favourite to be made TIG’s first leader, although he did acknowledge that he wanted to play the “biggest role” in the group.

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