Political newcomer Karen Newman had never sought a career in politics or been a member of any political party.
But she’s among those leading the charge for a second referendum as one of the Change UK London candidates in this week’s European election.
61-year-old international development consultant and the vice-chair of Liberal Judaism, Newman was inspired to put her head above the parapet over what she perceived to be the failures of “politicians to sort it out.”
Earlier this year, Newman joined thousands of protesters on the People’s March to call for a second vote on the UK’s departure from the EU.
The following week, she submitted her application to represent Change UK in the European election.
“What struck me was I saw a placard which said ‘what did you do to prevent Brexit, daddy’ and I thought ‘you know what, I need an answer to that,’” she said.
“The following week, I was one of the 3,700 people who applied to change UK to be one of their MEP candidates.”
Speaking to Jewish News, Newman said she was proud to be on “the same ticket as Luciana Berger” – the Labour Liverpool Wavertree MP who defected to Change UK.
“Listening to the antisemitic abuse that [Labour MP Louise Ellman] faces day in, day out from activists in the Labour Party is another thing that made me really admire what people like Luciana Berger have done, leaving Labour and saying ‘enough is enough’.”
Newman revealed she recently attended a hustings event in Golders Green with Berger and her toddler Zion, who was born at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in March.
“She had her new baby boy with her and it reminded me afresh, she’s doing this for the future, for the future of her son. And that’s why I am doing it as well,” she said.
Describing what she believes to be the anti-immigration rhetoric surrounding Brexit, Newman appealed to the Jewish community to back a second referendum.
“One of the guys who admitted my grandfather into a Jewish Care home was originally from Eastern Europe,” she said. “This is the kind of Britain that I grew up in.”
“I don’t think Jews should be bolting the door after we’ve arrived, and I also think that we know better than most what immigrants do.
“This daily bit of bile that we’ve been said about ‘oh they’re all scroungers and they only come here for benefits’ is not true.
“Jewish people, of all people, know it isn’t true. We’ve worked hard to feed our families, and they should know what it is that we’ve fled from. That is why we come here.”
But as it stands, one YouGov/Times poll placed Change UK in fifth position, ahead of UKIP, with the Brexit Party leading.
When challenged on her party’s election poll numbers, Newman said she believes more people will vote for remain parties “in the privacy of the ballot booth.”
“The rhetoric of a clean break after this mess that we have had for three years is very very attractive,” she said.
“But I also think that the British public is smart enough to remember the lies that were told in the Leave campaign.”
She added: “I am confident that in the privacy of the ballot booth, a lot more people now than in 2016 know that if they want Britain not to be poorer, if they want Britain not to be less secure, if they want not to take a decision that could threaten the United Kingdom, because Scotland would have the most brilliant reason to secede if we leave the EU, I think a lot more people will vote for Remain parties than looks to be the case from the polls.”