Could a LibDem/Green pact put the squeeze on Suffolk's Tory MPs?
PUBLISHED: 16:30 31 July 2019
Liberal Democrat and Green politicians in Suffolk have started having private discussions about forming a pact at the next General Election to increase their chances of unseating the county's Tory MPs.
The news comes as national politicians from the two parties have started holding talks along with former Tory and Change UK MP Heidi Allen under the "Unite to Remain" banner.
The Greens and Plaid Cymru decided not to contest this week's Brecon and Radnor by-election in a bid to give the Liberal Democrat candidate the best possible chance of getting elected.
Prospective Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrat candidate Julia Ewart said: "We would like to form an alliance to increase the chances of winning this seat. There seems to be a willingness to work towards this out there - and there are some constructive conversations."
The Greens and Liberal Democrats, together with independent councillors, work closely together on several Suffolk authorities including the county council.
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Leading Green councillor Andrew Stringer said: "There have been discussions which have been very friendly and quite positive. Nothing has been decided yet, but this is certainly something we are talking about and we work well together at council level."
But talk of an electoral pact has not sent shivers down the spines of the county's Tory MPs. Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said: "At the last election the Liberal Democrat and Green candidates in my seat both lost their deposit because they failed to get five percent of the vote.
"I can see that they could do better next time, but even if one does pull out, I don't see them as a major threat. I don't think my colleagues will have sleepless nights over this either. Although there could be an impact in some more marginal seats like Cambridge or Norwich South."
Any pact is unlikely to target the Labour/Conservative marginal seat of Ipswich, but the town's MP Sandy Martin said: "I was delighted to be able to talk to Ipswich residents in 2017 who had voted Liberal Democrat or Green in the past and who decided to vote for me.
"This doesn't mean they were deserting their principles - far from it. They didn't want a Conservative MP who would support fracking and fox-hunting.
"So it's up to the LibDems and Greens whether they want to talk to each other in other parts of Suffolk, but in Ipswich they need to be aware that there is already a clear choice."