Lib Dems will not contest Green-held Brighton Pavilion seat

Brighton Lib Dems' general election campaign launch (photo submitted).
Brighton Lib Dems' general election campaign launch (photo submitted).

Brighton and Hove Lib Dems have voted overwhelmingly not to put up a candidate to stand against Green MP Caroline Lucas.

The co-leader of the Green Party is defending a majority of just under 8,000 votes from Labour, with the Tories 2,000 votes behind.

The Lib Dem candidate polled just 1,525 votes back in the 2015 general election.

The decision not to put forward a candidate in Brighton Pavilion was taken last night, but the party is still putting forward candidates in both Brighton Kemptown and Hove, which are both marginal seats.

Speaking after the decision Paul Chandler, who was Lib Dems’ local choice to be candidate, said: “We feel that this is a unique ‘Brexit’ election and in these special circumstances we have to make this decision.

“Of course, I respect the counter arguments but I’m very happy that members chose the way they did and so convincingly.

“We have plenty of differences with the Green Party and this establishes no precedent. We will be fighting as fiercely as ever for Lib Dem candidates in Hove and Kemptown.

“But Caroline shares her EU policy 100 per cent with us. There is no difference on that matter.

“After the Greens gesture of standing down last year at the bye-election in Richmond, we have agreed to return the favour.

“This is the most important election of my lifetime and it will have consequences for decades into the future. It is no time for political tribalism.”

Tom Tugendhat, Tory MP Tonbridge and Malling, responded: “This is patronising politics & shows you stand for nothing. Parties can’t swap votes and can only trade principles if they don’t have any.”

Meanwhile the Greens have chosen not to field a candidate in Brighton Kemptown.

Davy Jones, who was set to be the Green candidate, tweeted: “Delighted that @BHGreens decided we unilaterally stand down in Brighton Kemptown to help defeat sitting Tory MP.”

Ms Lucas, who is co-leader of the national Green Party, said: “Pleased that @BHGreens just took brave decision not to stand in #Brighton Kemptown - better chance of a Tory-free city. #progressivealliance.”

The decision was welcomed by Brighton and Hove Momentum, which is a branch of a national campaign supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

A statement from the group’s steering committee, said: “Momentum Brighton and Hove is urging its 2,500 members and supporters to do everything possible to ensure Jeremy Corbyn is the United Kingdom’s next prime minister, supported by as many loyal Labour MPs as possible.

“As part of the fight to kick Simon Kirby out of Brighton Kemptown, we called on the Green Party last week not to stand a candidate in the constituency on June 8. We applaud the decision of Green Party members in our city to withdraw their candidate Davy Jones from the ballot to help rid us of this terrible Conservative government.

“At the same time, Momentum Brighton and Hove has committed to concentrating all its efforts on winning the Kemptown seat, which Labour lost to the Conservatives by only 690 votes in 2015 — when the fourth-placed Green Party candidate secured more than 3,000 votes.

“We believe our members and supporters, regardless of which constituency they live in, should prioritise victory in Brighton Kemptown, to make a crucial difference in the campaign for progressive politics in our city  — and a democratic socialist prime minister in Downing Street.”

Labour’s Hove MP Peter Kyle is defending a majority of 1,236 over the Tories.

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