And, in spite of the last paragraph below, East Devon now appears to be one of only a few seats where the Lib Dem and the Greens want to hand the constituency a Tory ex-DJ parachuted in from Bristol!
“Lib Dem candidate stands aside to avoid ‘nightmare’ of Tory win.
The Liberal Democrat candidate in a marginal Labour seat has unilaterally decided to stand down, saying that while the two parties could not agree on a pact he wanted to avoid the “nightmare” of handing the constituency back to the Conservatives.
In an article for the Guardian, Tim Walker said that while he did not trust Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, he wanted to give Rosie Duffield, the Labour candidate who took Canterbury from the Tories for the first time in 2017 by just 187 votes, the best chance of winning.
The announcement of his candidacy had dismayed some Lib Dems, who argued that while there is no formal deal between their party and Labour it would be better to stand aside to help Duffield, who is strongly pro-remain. In 2017 the then-Lib Dem candidate received more than 4,500 votes.
The deadline for nominations in the 12 December election closes on Thursday. It is not yet clear if the Lib Dems plan to stand another candidate in Walker’s place.
It comes as the Lib Dem candidate in Boris Johnson’s seat, Uxbridge and South Ruislip, announced she was standing aside. In a statement, Elizabeth Evenden-Kenyon said this was because of family illness, and that the party would have enough time to select a new hopeful.
However, if the Lib Dems do not, it could boost Labour’s admittedly outside chance of unseating Johnson. He had a majority of just over 5,000 in 2017, with the third-placed Lib Dems getting more than 1,800 votes.
Writing in the Guardian, Walker, a journalist who formerly worked for the Daily Telegraph, said it had become clear that if he stayed in place in Canterbury, there was “a danger I’d divide the remainers” and allow victory for the Tory candidate, Anna Firth: a vehement Brexit supporter who worked with the Vote Leave campaign.
“I don’t trust Corbyn on Brexit, but I share with many members of my party locally a visceral dread of the Commons being filled with people like Firth,” Walker wrote. “Trying to stop that happening is now more important than ever, given Nigel Farage’s unholy alliance with Johnson.”
He added: “I’ve therefore asked that my local party withdraws my nomination papers to stand for Canterbury. Politics does not always have to be grubby and small-minded; sometimes it’s possible to acknowledge there’s something at stake that’s more important than party politics and do something that seems right.”
It was not an easy decision, Walker wrote, “but the nightmare that kept me awake was standing awkwardly at the count beside a vanquished Duffield as the Tory Brexiter raised her hands in triumph. I wanted no part in that.”
He went on: “I now wish Rosie well and urge her to fight for our country, and, when she hopefully gets to resume her seat in the Commons, to continue to think for herself.”
The Lib Dems are part of a so-called remain alliance, which has seen them, Plaid Cymru and the Greens give each others’ candidates a free run in 60 seats around England and Wales.”