Lib Dem candidate stands aside to avoid 'nightmare' Tory win

12 November 2019, 21:19

Tim Walker has stood aside in the marginal seat
Tim Walker has stood aside in the marginal seat. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A Liberal Democrat candidate has stood aside in a key marginal seat to support Labour's Rosie Duffield, but the party have announced they will be picking a new candidate.

Tim Walker was due to contest the Canterbury seat, but said he had asked his party to withdraw his nomination papers as he wanted "no part" in allowing a Brexiteer to win the seat by potentially splitting the remain vote.

He said he shared the "visceral dread" felt by "many members of his party locally" that the Commons would be filled with people like his Conservative rival Anna Firth.

Ms Duffield won the seat in 2017 with a majority of less that 200.

Rosie Duffield will be running as the Labour candidate
Rosie Duffield will be running as the Labour candidate. Picture: PA

She said the choice facing voters now is "clear" between herself and a "Brexiteer who supports Johnson's hard right Tory agenda".

Ms Duffield tweeted: "Tim has been a gracious, respectful candidate throughout this campaign. The choice for voters in #Canterbury is now clear; a local candidate who supports a People's Vote and defends our public services, or a Brexiteer who supports Johnson's hard right Tory agenda."

Writing about his decision in The Guardian, Mr Walker said there was a "danger I'd divide the Remainers" if he stood as a candidate.

He continued: "That would allow in our common enemy, Anna Firth, the Tory candidate and an avowed hard Brexiter and former Vote Leave stalwart.

"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.

"Trying to stop that happening is now more important than ever given Nigel Farage's unholy alliance with Johnson.

"I've therefore asked that my local party withdraw my nomination papers to stand for Canterbury. Politics does not always have to be grubby and small-minded; sometimes it's possible to acknowledge that what's at stake is more important than party politics - and personal ambition - and we can do what's right.

"In this invidious situation, both standing and not standing could be interpreted as weakness.

"But the nightmare that kept me awake was posing awkwardly at the count beside a vanquished Duffield as the Tory Brexiter raised her hands in triumph. I wanted no part in that."

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed that they will be fielding another candidate in the Canterbury seat in place of Mr Walker.

A party spokesman said: "We will be selecting a candidate in due course to contest the seat of Canterbury.”