Brexit: Pro-EU parties unite in ‘Remain alliance’ to defeat Tory candidate for critical by-election

Sir Vince Cable says political logic of banding together is ‘irresistible’

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Friday 05 July 2019 19:11
Pro-Remain parties form electoral pact in Wales by-election

Pro-EU parties have united behind a single candidate for a critical by-election next month, paving the way for future Remain alliances.

Plaid Cymru, the Greens and Change UK will make way for Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire next month, where a by-election will take place after constituents ousted Tory MP Chris Davies over expenses fraud.

Voters will head to the polls on 1 August, in an early test for the new prime minister, who will have been appointed only days before.

Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the political logic of banding together was “irresistible” in the face of the threat of the Brexit Party and a Conservative party led by Boris Johnson.

It comes after attempts to field a pro-Remain candidate for the Peterborough by-election floundered, leaving Labour to narrowly secure victory over the Brexit Party.

The Liberal Democrats hope they are well placed to win back Brecon and Radnorshire from the Tories, after holding the Welsh seat from 1997 to 2015.

Sir Vince told the Today programme: “It’s a strong Liberal Democrat area, we have held that seat in the past, and Plaid have got behind us to endorse our candidate as have the Greens. There is strength in being together.”

Asked if his party would pull their candidates in seats where Plaid and the Greens had the best chance of winning, Sir Vince said: “Yes, in principle we would be willing to do that.

“There is no narrow deal around this particular seat but it will create trust and good will, we will reciprocate in an appropriate way.

“We have no difficulty with that. We had an agreement with the Greens at the last general election – they didn’t contest my seat and we didn’t contest the Greens’ seat in Brighton.

“And that kind of thing could now happen much more widely given the strength of feeling about Brexit and the importance of stopping it.”

However he said there was “no possibility” of electoral deals with Labour due to its Brexit stance.

Sir Vince said: “The Labour party is way off the map where this is concerned. They have been so ambiguous for so long and sat on the fence.”

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price confirmed that his party was putting aside party politics to avoid the “destruction Brexit would wreak on Wales”.

He said: “It is imperative that pro-Remain parties work together to avoid a disastrous Brexit.

“That includes co-operating in elections to argue the Remain case and to stop the pro-Brexit parties from foisting their deeply damaging policies on the people of Wales.”

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Change UK leader Anna Soubry told The Independent her party was also planning to stand aside to bolster the chance of a pro-EU candidate.

If the Conservatives lose the seat, it would reduce the government’s working majority to a handful of seats, which may prove decisive if the new prime minister faces a confidence vote.

Mr Davies will represent the Conservatives again in the battle for the seat after more than 10,000 constituents signed a recall petition last month

The Lib Dems would need a swing of 9.8 per cent to win the seat, which saw a majority of 8,038 for Mr Davies in 2017.

The Brexit Party and Labour have also announced that they will contest the seat.

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