Ex-Tory Sarah Wollaston joins Lib Dems to fight Brexit

Former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston (centre) with leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson. Photograph:

Former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston (centre) with leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston has joined the Liberal Democrats, saying it is the best way for her to fight to remain in the EU.

Dr Wollaston quit the Conservatives in February over the party's "disastrous handling of Brexit".

The Totnes MP joined what would become the Independent Group for Change, but left that fledgling group in June after its dismal performance in the European Parliament elections.

She now becomes the latest politician to join the resurgent Remain-supporting Lib Dems, following Chuka Umunna's similar pathway from Labour.

Dr Wollaston said: "I believe the best way for me to represent my constituents in Totnes is to be working as part 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."

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said she was "delighted" to welcome Dr Wollaston.

"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," Swinson added.

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"As the strongest party for Remainers, we will lead the fight to stop Brexit."

It follows the party's success in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on August 1, in which Jane Dodds forced out the Tory candidate.

Explaining her decision, Dr Wollaston said that, while her constituents in Totnes had voted for her initially as a Conservative candidate, they had wanted a "centrist" MP.

She said: "Many of my constituents have been rather horrified by the way the Conservative Party have shifted to the right. And I was selected originally by a fully open postal primary, the first in the country, so I think that people do have a support across my constituency for that kind of centre-ground approach.

"The point is that we are at a time of national crisis now. If you've got such a great policy idea, why do you have to spend billions on making contingency plans for air freighting in medicines and food? It is not good enough, and people deserve a say on that."

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