Published: 07:50, 20 April 2017 |
Updated: 07:54, 20 April 2017
The former Medway Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews has defected to the Lib Dems in a blow to his former party.
The barrister, who represented the Medway constituency from 1997 to 2010, denounced the “abject failure of the Labour leadership” following the Brexit referendum.
His switch will prove a major fillip for the Lib Dems, who are likely to target the nearby Kent seat of Maidstone and the Weald in the campaign.
Mr Marshall-Andrews said his former party’s flimsy Brexit arguments and inability to get their views across to voters had “provided a concession of both votes and credibility to Ukip”.
He added: “At present there is manifestly a huge vacuum on the centre-left represented in substantial part by the 48 per cent of the electorate who rejected Brexit and the lies on which it was based.
“To many, including me, there was a forlorn hope that a reformed and radical Labour Party would rise to historic occasion. It has not and shows no real sign of doing so.”
Mr Marshall-Andrews had been a long-standing member of Labour, joining the party in 1971.
He also said the party should have chosen not to field anyone in the Richmond Park by-election, caused when Zac Goldsmith stood down after the third runway decision. Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat, took the seat.
He said he left Labour with a “heavy heart”, but added that the Liberal Democrats offered “some radical hope”.
The party's leader Tim Farron said: "Bob, like many progressive Labour people, is coming over to the only party that is offering a credible opposition to a divisive Tory Brexit government."
He was a persistent critic of Tony Blair’s administration and famously declared he had lost his Medway seat in the 2005 election, saying that the Iraq war had cost him his job - only for there to be a recount which delivered him a narrow victory.
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
This is a brand new online resource covering every aspect of owning and improving a home in Kent and Medway.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Neil Miller, Hever Castle head gardener is new gardening blogger.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.