Published: 14:17, 11 September 2019
| Updated: 14:35, 11 September 2019
The selection of a Liberal Democrat candidate to contest the Canterbury seat at the next election has been unexpectedly put on hold.
A selection meeting was scheduled to take place tomorrow, but has been postponed indefinitely.
It is understood local association party chiefs were contacted this week by the national party and told to cancel the selection meeting but were given no explanation why.
There is speculation the party has acted to keep some seats open in the event of further high-profile defections from other parties amid the Brexit chaos.
The party has been buoyed by the recent defection of the former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is to vacate his existing south London seat to fight the Cities of London and Westminster seat.
Another ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger could be parachuted into a north London seat, Finchley and Golders Green.
The party has also secured defectors from the Conservative party, Sarah Woolaston and Dr Philip Lee.
Both are likely to be pressed to stand at the next election, which could come sooner rather than later.
However, the strategy risks irritating party activists who may be unhappy they are being deprived of their right to select their own candidate.
While the election in 2017 saw the Liberal Democrat come a distant third in Canterbury, its resurgence on the back of its opposition to Brexit has led to optimism about its prospects.
Labour holds a majority of 178 and is being heavily targeted by the Conservatives.