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General Election 2019: Liberal Democrats in turmoil after Tim Walker steps down as Canterbury candidate

The Liberal Democrats have been plunged into turmoil by the decision of candidate Tim Walker to step down as candidate for Canterbury, we can reveal.

Sources locally have told KentOnline that the national party is considering imposing a fresh candidate in the seat, placing it at odds with those who believe that the party should give Labour Rosie Duffield the best prospect of retaining the seat she won against the odds in 2017.

Tim Walker (20621510)
Tim Walker (20621510)

It is understood that after Tim Walker made his decision, four members of the party were approached to see if they would stand in his place but all declined to do so.

A source said: “The atmosphere was toxic and there was a backlash against Tim, who is a decent guy and doesn't deserve it. We think Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister would be devastating for the country but Brexit is the number one priority and we have to stop it.

“There is quite a lot of support for what he has done and had it been any Labour candidate other than Rosie and we probably would have stood.”

The source said there were doubts about whether the national party would be able to impose a new candidate in the constituency with nominations due to close on Thursday.

The party’s national policy is not to strike deals with Labour and doing so is a breach of the party’s rules and could lead to expulsions. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson defended the decision to contest the seat last week.

The Lib Dems are stepping aside to get Rosie Duffield more support from voters
The Lib Dems are stepping aside to get Rosie Duffield more support from voters

A source said: “The national party's position is there should be no deals and and that is accepted but the Liberal Democrats are the one proper alternative to Boris Johnson. However in this one particular case, we have a significant remainer and the risk of a hard right Brexiteer getting elected.”

Sources have said local party managers were surprised by the backlash against Tim Walker when he was announced as candidate.

“It was clear they do not want us to stand a remain candidate.”

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