A Lib Dem candidate has threatened to stand down and resign from the party unless the former candidate for Canterbury receives an apology.
Tim Walker said he would not contest Labour-held Canterbury because he did not want to split the Remain vote, but the party leader Jo Swinson has insisted the Lib Dems would field another candidate in the Kent seat.
But it has now sparked Guy Kiddey, Lib Dem candidate in the High Peak constituency, to threaten to stand down and resign his membership of the party because he claims Walker is being threatened with “disciplinary action”.
In a statement on Twitter, Kiddey wrote: “Many Lib Dem candidates are standing in marginal seats. We are all as torn as Tim Walker, but none of us is as noble.
“I’ve never met Mr Walker but, as a distant colleague, I stand by him and his decision to stand down.
“I know that, if I campaign hard in High Peak, I will split the vote and the Tory will win.
“Though I could probably achieve the party’s best-ever result up here, perhaps increasing the Lib Dem vote share five-fold compared to 2017, a mere happy statistic is a definite second to keeping a Tory party that threatens to be worse than Margaret Thatcher’s out of office.”
Kiddey said he received an email from James Gurling, chairman of the Lib Dem election campaign, who said he was writing to inform candidates that “disciplinary action” had been instigated against Walker.
“I was, and am, appalled at this response. So is my now former election agent, who has resigned from the Lib Dems.
“This means that I am, in the absence of a replacement, not legally able to stand as a candidate in High Peak in the coming election, as I do not wish to be my own agent.
“I will not seek this replacement unless the party retracts its implicit threat to candidates, drops its intended disciplinary proceedings against Mr Walker, and apologises unreservedly.
“I doubt it will, in which case I too will stand down and resign my membership, and I will vote Labour,” he said.
Asked if she was losing control of Lib Dem candidates, Jo Swinson told the PA news agency: “No. Clearly as Liberal Democrats we are committed to stopping Brexit.
“We have a healthy debate within the party and some candidates have made their own decisions.”