They’re not even an official political party yet, but the Independent Group are wasting no time in making connections with some of the world’s most influential politicians.
Photos on social media revealed that two of the group’s founding members – Mike Gapes and Chris Leslie – met with Nancy Pelosi (yes, that Nancy Pelosi) on Sunday.
As the speaker of the US House of Representatives, Pelosi is the highest-ranking woman in the history of the US Congress. (You might know her from the time she sarcastically clapped President Trump during his State of the Union address.)
Pelosi tweeted: “Important discussion with former Labour Party MPs @MikeGapes, @ChrisLeslieMP & @IanAustinMP to hear their perspectives on Brexit, why they left the Labour Party, and the importance of standing unequivocally against anti-Semitism wherever it is found.”
Meanwhile, Gapes wrote: “Was delighted to meet USA @SpeakerPelosi this morning with my Independent Group colleague @ChrisLeslieMP to discuss our shared values, NATO, UK politics, EU, Northern Ireland and anti-Semitism.
He and Leslie – along with five of their Labour colleagues – resigned from the party in February over Labour’s stance on Brexit and anti-Semitism. Later joined by three Tory MPs, the group has laid out plans to become a political party – named Change UK – and put forward candidates for the upcoming European parliament elections.
Austin – the adopted son of Czech Jewish refugees – quit Labour over the party’s handling of anti-Semitism. However, the Dudley North MP – who does not support the idea of a second referendum – did not join the Independent Group.
The trio’s meeting with Pelosi comes ahead of a planned visit to Northern Ireland as part of a US Congressional Delegation, where she is set to meet with leaders to discuss Brexit.