- There is frustration among Remain voters as the Lib Dems and Labour continue to reject working together at the next election.
- The Lib Dems are refusing to stand aside in a key election seat, despite their candidate pulling out of the contest in order to help Labour candidate Rosie Duffield defeat the Conservatives.
- Jo Swinson’s party intends to find a new candidate to contest Canterbury, even though Duffield like them supports a new referendum and staying in the European Union.
- Pro-Remain voters are urging the two parties to work together in order to stop Boris Johnson winning the December 12 election.
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There is dismay among Remain voters after the Liberal Democrats refused to stand aside for a pro-European Union Labour candidate in a key general election seat.
Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party are refusing to work together at the December 12 general election – despite many of their own supporters urging them to do so.
On Tuesday, former journalist Tim Walker withdrew as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Canterbury, saying that standing would likely “divide the remainers” and hand victory to pro-Brexit Conservative candidate, Anna Firth.
The seat is being defended by Labour’s Rosie Duffield, who like the Liberal Democrats wants a new referendum on Brexit and to stay in the EU. She is just 187 votes ahead of the second-placed Conservatives.
However, despite pressure from some of their supporters to follow Walker’s suit, the Liberal Democrats said that they intended to find a new candidate to challenge Duffield before the nominations deadline on Thursday.
“We will be selecting a candidate in due course to contest the seat of Canterbury,” a party spokesperson told Business Insider.
The decision exasperated anti-Brexit campaigners who want Labour and the Liberal Democrats to work together. One figure in the campaign told Business Insider it went down like a “cup of cold sick.”
A number of Lib Dem supporters also expressed their frustration on Twitter, pleading with leader Swinson and other party figures to give Duffield a clear run at the seat.
Proponents of a “Remain alliance” say that Labour and the Liberal Democrats should work together in a number of seats in order to deprive Boris Johnson of victory and create a parliamentary majority for a new referendum.
Polls show that the Remain vote is split between Labour and the Liberal Democrats as the United Kingdom heads into the December election.
Naomi Smith, CEO of pro-referendum group Best For Britain, told Business Insider: “Rosie Duffield is a fantastic parliamentarian with a great record of voting for the public to have the final say on Brexit.
“Our data indicates Rosie is the best placed candidate in Canterbury to fight the Tories.
“The Lib Dems now mustn’t stand another candidate and split the Remain vote.”
Both parties came under increased pressure to put their differences aside and work together when Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said on Monday that his party would stand aside for Johnson in 317 Conservative-held seats.
The Liberal Democrats have agreed to work together with the Greens and Plaid Cymru in 60 seats, under the terms of an electoral pact brokered by anti Brexit campaign Unite to Remain.
The Liberal Democrat president, Sal Brinton, said last week her party had approached Labour about working together earlier this year, but Labour responded by saying it would not stand aside for any other party at the next election.
The Liberal Democrats’ current position is they will not stand aside for Labour candidates unless it is reciprocated.
On Tuesday night, the party’s former leader Tim Farron tweeted: “It’s worth noting that Labour aren’t standing down in a single seat for anyone, and that the Lib Dems are standing down for Greens, Plaid and independents in a number of seats – it is Labour nationally who have chosen not to play ball.”
But the differences between the two parties do not end there.
The Liberal Democrats say that while some Labour candidates support staying in the EU, the party does not have a policy of remaining. Corbyn has said he would negotiate a new Brexit deal and put it to a referendum.
Swinson has repeatedly said that Corbyn is “unfit” to be prime minister.
Furthermore, Labour blames the Liberal Democrats for the austerity policies of the Coalition government, and has accused Swinson of being prepared to prop up a Conservative government led by Johnson.
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