Sarah Wollaston, the MP who defected from the Conservative Party to join Change UK only to become an independent MP a few months later, has changed party once again. The MP for Totnes has today joined the Liberal Democrats, as confirmed by the newly-elected leader of the party Jo Swinson.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said: “I am delighted to welcome Sarah to the Liberal Democrats.
“We have worked together for many months to fight to stop Brexit and, as one of the most respected Members of Parliament, she brings real expertise to our team.
“The Liberal Democrats are growing – over 30,000 people, alongside Sarah, have joined us since our best ever results in the European Elections in May.
“As the strongest party for Remainers, we will lead the fight to stop Brexit.”
The announcement quickly followed a statement by Ms Wallaston herself, who reaffirmed her desire to keep the UK within the European Union.
She said: “I am delighted to be joining the Liberal Democrats.
“I believe the best way for me to represent my constituents in Totnes is to be working as apart of a fantastic team of Liberal Democrat MPs who are unequivocally making the case for us to remain at the heart of Europe, as well as campaigning for social justice, the environment and our public services.”
Ms Wallaston joined the Tory Party in 2006, and was first elected MP in 2010.
But in February 2019 she was one of the Tory MPs who rebelled against Theresa May’s handling of Brexit and decided to quit and join the freshly created movement, The Independent Group.
The main goal of the movement, later called Change UK and renamed in June The Independent Group for Change, is to see revoked Article 50.
However, despite being a fervent anti-Brexiteer, Ms Wollaston remained a member of the party for only four months, leaving after the humiliating defeat suffered by Change UK at the European Parliament elections in May.
Ms Wollaston was welcomed by several Lib Dem MPs.
Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat MP, wrote on Twitter minutes after the news broke: “Welcome to the team [Sarah Wollaston]!”
Christine Jardine MP added:”She will be a fantastic addition as we work to build a liberal Britain that remains in the EU when we stop Brexit.”
Ms Wollaston is the second MP from Change UK to join the Lib Dems.
In June, just 10 days after abandoning the party he had founded following his defection from the Labour Party, Chuka Umunna announced his decision to join the party then led by Sir Vince Cable.
Mr Umunna revealed he had “massively underestimated just how difficult it was” to set up a new party.
He added: “It’s quite clear that there isn’t room for more than one centre-ground option, particularly under the first past the post in UK politics.”
The Liberal Democrats have been benefitting from the Brexit chaos by becoming the party of Remain and attracting Conservative and Labour voters unhappy with the way their parties have been handling the UK exit from the union.
While many Conservatives who have switched to Lib Dems have spoken against a no deal scenario, Ms Swinson is targeting those Labour supporters fed up with the lack of clarity over Brexit demostrated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Published at Wed, 14 Aug 2019 21:13:00 +0000