Liberal Democrat general election candidates in six London constituencies will face no Green Party opponent while the Green candidate in one seat will face no Lib Dem as part of a national “unite to remain” deal designed to maximise the representation of anti-Brexit parties in Parliament.
Green candidates will not contest Conservative-held Chelsea & Fulham, Finchley & Golders Green, Richmond Park and Wimbledon, Labour-held Bermondsey & Old Southwark or Lib Dem-held Twickenham, while the Lib Dems are giving way to the Greens in the Labour seat of Dulwich & West Norwood.
The seven seat deals form the London component of an arrangement, which also includes Plaid Cymru, covering 60 seats in England and Wales.
The deal for Richmond Park replicates those reached for a by-election held there in December 2016 and the June 2017 general election. On the first occasion, Lib Dem Sarah Olney won a famous victory in the post-referendum period by 1,872 votes after Leave-backing Tory incumbent Zac Goldsmith resigned in order to trigger the by-election, which he fought as an Independent opposed to the expansion of Heathrow. But Goldsmith won the seat back six months later by just 45 votes.
The MPs defending the other three Lib Dem Tory targets all voted to Remain in the European Union in 2016. Chelsea & Fulham’s Greg Hands has since voted in favour a leaving with a deal. Mike Freer in Finchley & Golders Green is one of 15 Tory MPs who, in April, voted in favour of a further referendum or People’s Vote but has also voted in favour of leaving with deal. In Wimbledon, Stephen Hammond was one of 21 MPs to lose the Tory whip over Brexit, though it has now been restored. He too has voted to leave with a deal.
The MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Labour’s Neil Coyle, has been a prominent Remainer and critic of his party’s ambiguous position on Brexit. He first won his seat in 2015 from long-term Lib Dem incumbent Simon Hughes, and the Lib Dems harbour hopes of getting it back. In Twickenham, Lib Dem MP Vince Cable is standing down in what should, nonetheless, be a safe seat for his party with the Tories likely to present the largest challenge.
The Greens are unlikely to threaten Labour in Dulwich & West Norwood, where firm Remainer Helen Hayes won in 2017 with nearly 70 per cent of the vote and the Lib Dem and Green candidates finished in distant third and fourth places respectively. Hayes also voted against implementing Article 50 and has campaigned for a Peoples’ Vote. Part of the constituency is in the borough of Lambeth, where the Greens have five councillors, including national co-leader Jonathan Bartley, who leads the official opposition group there. He will be the Green candidate in the general election.
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