01:01PM, Monday 07 October 2019
The Beaconsfield Liberal Democrats have pledged their support for former Conservative MP Dominic Grieve in the event of a future general election.
In a move to help Mr Grieve retain his Beaconsfield seat, the Liberals' prospective candidate Rob Castell has agreed to step down in a 'remain alliance' before Brexit.
Responding to the news, Mr Grieve said that it is 'up to other political parties whether they want to stand or not' and that if he cannot stand as a Conservative, he will run as an independent.
Speaking to the Advertiser today (Monday) Mr Grieve said: "As I have tried to explain, if there is a general election prior to Brexit being resolved, I have made my decision quite clearly.
"If I can’t stand as a Conservative, I will stand as an independent candidate.
"It is then up to other political parties to decide whether they want to stand or not.
"My understanding is if I am running as an independent, they [the Lib Dems] will be happy not to put up a candidate. [For that] I am grateful."
He added: "Beyond that, it is possible there is not going to be a general election in which case all this will come to pass.
"I communicated my intentions and as a consequence of that, there were some conversations and that is the decision they have decided to take."
When asked if he was confident of winning the seat again with the Lib Dems support, the former Attorney General said: "Not at all.
"It is very difficult to gauge public opinion. [The public] is exceptionally divided on the issues that surround Brexit.
"I know that there are some Conservative voters that support the approach that I have taken, I am also aware that there are other people who voted for other parties who have written to me to express support.
"But how that is going to pan out in an election taking place, I haven’t the slightest idea.
"My decision to run as an independent being that this is a matter of such importance that I would be acting improper if I turned my back."
Mr Castell said: "I came into politics to do what I feel is right, not to advance my career, and I'm not about to stand in the way of one of the most distinguished and well respected advocates of a People's Vote at a time like this when he is fighting against the ugly headwinds of nationalism coming from within his former party.
"I do however feel really energised about developing our local party and working hard in this constituency for the future. We have much to do."
Mr Castell tweeted on Saturday saying: 'yeah it's true #remainalliance'.
Alright twitter calm down. I’m out at the theatre with my mum for her birthday so I’ll respond in the morning. But yeah it’s true #remainalliance— Rob Castell (@_robcastell) October 5, 2019
Diane Holden, Lib Dem and People's Vote team leader in South Bucks, said: "Dominic is a long-standing supporter of a People's Vote as the rational way to end the Brexit stalemate. It is important that he is able to continue work with colleagues across the House of Commons to help bring this about."
Carol Linton, Buckinghamshire South Liberal Democrats chairman, said: "We have to stop any possibility of crashing out of the EU, unnecessarily weakening our position on the world stage and in future trade deals and risking the breakup of the UK.
"The electorate must be given an opportunity to choose between A: No deal on WTO [World Trade Organisation] terms, B: a leave deal that binds us to EU rules with no say in them, and C: remaining - to work within the EU to reform and improve the European community."
Beaconsfield Conservatives chairman Jackson Ng told the Advertiser today (Monday) that the Tories are 'very disappointed' with the news.
He said: "We will be really disappointed if Dominic decides to rely on the support of the parties that we have campaigned against over the last 22 years with him.
"‘I have been leading campaign teams across the constituency over the past few weeks and the feedback from many residents are that they support us, our Prime Minister in his approach to Brexit, the Conservative Party’s recent policy announcements investing in our NHS, schools, policing and infrastructure.
"I am confident that the voters of the constituency will see through this alliance and vote Conservative.
"We are confident, having spoken to residents on the doorsteps, that they want to get Brexit delivered."
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