Lib Dems stand aside in Bristol West to boost Green general election vote
THE Liberal Democrats have pulled out of the race to be the next MP for Bristol West as part of a national pact with the Green Party.
The two parties have formed an alliance called Unite to Remain, which also includes Plaid Cymru in Wales, aiming to give pro-remain candidates a better chance of winning marginal seats against Labour or Tory MPs.
Green Party candidate Carla Denyer will be the Unite to Remain candidate in Bristol West, with the Lib Dems' James Cox making way.
It means that the Lib Dems have given up the prospect of retaking a seat they held less than five years ago: Stephen Williams held it for 10 years from 2005 to 2015, when he lost to Labour's Thangam Debbonaire.
Bristol West is one of several seats in the region where Unite to Remain parties have agreed to stand aside for each other.
The Lib Dems will also not stand candidates in Stroud or the Forest of Dean, while the Greens will not run in Thornbury & Yate, Bath, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Taunton Deane or Wells.
The Greens have made Bristol West a top target and launched their national election campaign in the constituency.
But they face a huge task in trying to overturn Ms Debbonaire's majority of 37,336 from 2017, when the Labour politician won almost two out of every three votes cast: 47,213 from a total turnout of 71,608.
In that election it was the Conservatives who were second, with 9,877 votes, with the Greens third with 9,216 and the Lib Dems a distant fourth with 5,201 votes.
The Greens point to Labour's low level of support in this year's European elections, when the party was in fourth place behind the Greens, Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party.
Ms Denyer said: “This election is now a clear choice: people can vote to renegotiate a Brexit deal with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, or they can vote Green for a party that’s unequivocally for a People’s Vote and Remain.
“I would like to thank the Liberal Democrat candidate for taking a brave position and standing aside in Bristol West."
Lib Dem candidate James Cox said: "I and the Lib Dems will be standing aside for the Green Party in Bristol West as part of the Unite to Remain alliance.
"Thank you to everyone who has supported me. I got into politics to change it and to stop Brexit. Today we are closer to achieving this."
Ms Debbonaire said: "If the purpose of the Remain Alliance is to elect a Remain MP, who wants a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper, and who will campaign for Remain, the people of Bristol West already know that's me.
"But more than that, at this time of national crisis, in me they have someone who has, as their MP for the last four years, actually kept us in the EU. As a Labour Whip, I've literally helped keep us in the EU, when we were due to leave on March 29, April 12 and October 31. We are still in the EU because of the work I and other Labour whips did behind the scenes to make that happen.
"To remain in the EU we need a public vote on a deal which is based on Labour principles to preserve environmental protections and workers' rights, versus Remain.
"Only a Labour government can deliver that public vote. And I will campaign to remain in the EU – something I have never stopped doing since 2016."
Picture: Green Party activists with candidate Carla Denyer. Photo by Jon Craig.