Lib Dem backs Labour rival to stop Boris Johnson gaining a landslide

Brendan Devlin with Jo Swinson. Photograph: Lib Dems.

Brendan Devlin with Jo Swinson. Photograph: Lib Dems. - Credit: Archant

A third-placed Liberal Democrat candidate in an ultra-marginal seat has made a dramatic announcement - telling voters to back the Labour rival to stop Boris Johnson gaining a landslide win.

Brendan Devlin, the Lib Dem candidate in Stockton South, issued a series of tweets this morning backing Dr Paul Williams - the constituency's MP for the past two years who is defending a majority of just 888 votes over the Conservatives.

It follows calls from anti-Brexit organisations for third-placed candidates to step aside to stop Boris Johnson gaining a huge majority.

The vote for a final say organisation reports that two other candidates - one Lib Dem and one Labour - are also said to be considering making similar calls but have been met with resistance from their parties.

In Stockton South a Survation survey showed Dr Williams was set to get 43% of the vote - three points behind the Conservatives. But, if he received the endorsement of the Liberal Democrat candidate, Dr Williams would be re-elected by a margin of 48% to 43%.

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Devlin said: "Polling shows that Stockton South is a Lab/Cons battle. I cannot and do not endorse either Party or their leadersghip. But I have met Paul; he's an honest, sincere man, and if I needed help I know he's reliable and committed to social justice... To be crystal clear, vote tactically for someone who cares about the NHS and social care. Those are important in Stockton South."

Dr Williams praised his Lib Dem rival, by saying: "The gap between me and the Tories in Stockton South couldn't be more narrow. Tomorrow, we can deny Boris Johnson the majority government that he's always wanted. The Liberal Democrat candidate Brendan Devlin is an honourable man who's been able to put his party's interest to one side in favour of the national interest.

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He was praised by fellow Lib Dem Tim Walker, who stood down as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Canterbury to give Labour's Rosie Duffield a better chance.

"People will remember us for what we do. Will they say we were true to ourselves? Did we do what's right? I got into politics to try to make things better. Not to make them worse. I could not win in Canterbury, but by putting my future with my party first - ensuring I'd personally be rewarded for doing this bit of dirty work for them - I'd have guaranteed a Tory Brextremist a seat in the House. I'd also have deprived the principled and independent-minded Rosie Duffield of hers. I decided I wanted no part in that.

"I beg other Lib Dem and Labour candidates in identical situations to my own to now look to their consciences and abandon their disreputable campaigns. I know of dozens who know deep down what they're doing is wrong. If Johnson's to be stopped from getting his mandate for a hard Brexit, they should do something else, too. They should announce they are voting for the Labour or Lib Dem candidate who can win - and urge their supporters to do likewise. I beg them to be their own men and their own women at this time of reckoning. To face up to reality, before it is too late."

- A full list of third-placed candidates encouraged to step aside is detailed here.

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