Politicians react after 'Remain' pact delivers success at Brecon and Radnorshire by-election

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:47 02 August 2019

Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

Anti-Brexit campaigners have welcomed the anti-Brexit party pacts that helped ensure the Liberal Democrats defeated the Conservative in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

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It saw Plaid Cymru and the Green Party step aside to support Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds, while Change UK and other pro-EU parties also did not contest.

Naomi Smith from the Best for Britain campaign group said that the result proves "that when remain parties work together, they succeed."

"While the Leave side has an inherent advantage in elections due to its vote being concentrated between only two parties whereas the pro-EU vote is split across at least four, working together can clearly help beat those odds.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson predicted further electoral pacts between pro-EU parties.

She said the result sent a "really clear message that the country doesn't have to settle for Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn, there is another positive alternative that is winning again and on the up and that is the Liberal Democrats".

Swinson told BBC Radio 4's Today: "I do think that working across party lines is important when there is so much at stake for the future of our country and I will continue to do that.

"I've exchanged messages this morning with the Green and Plaid leaderships and I think there will be more co-operation in future elections."

Anthony Slaughter, leader of the Wales Green Party, said their decision to stand aside has been "vindicated" by the result.

"The Green party's decision was key to that: the Liberal Democrat majority was 1,400 votes. We got 1,300 votes in the seat in 2015, while Plaid Cymru, who also withdrew from the by-election, also got that many votes.

"Of course what we need is a change to the undemocratic voting system, to ensure that everywhere in every nation votes can express their political preferences, vote for what they believe in and get it. But until we elect a parliament in Westminster that will reform our system and bring our politics into the 21st century, we have to work within the system we have."

MP Heidi Allen from the independents said it was time to get the Unite to Remain "show on the road".

Allen has launched a new campaign which would ensure cross-party agreement between anti-Brexit parties at a future general election.

She said: "People in the European elections were disappointed that the Remain parties didn't have time to get their acts together - but the incredible way in which these parties have acted to ensure victory in Brecon shows what can be achieved.

"Given the high likelihood of a General Election soon, we will now begin urgent preparations to maximise our chance of returning to Parliament as many Remain-supporting MPs as possible.

"This will require modern, country-first, cross-party collaboration across the nations - and we are committed to working with and supporting all other Remain parties and independents who share this goal.

"Our country is crying out for mature and progressive politics, not a Government elected to pursue old ideology from the Left or Right."

Adam Price from Plaid Cymru said: "I am proud that the leadership shown by Plaid Cymru in creating a spirit of cooperation between pro-Remain parties has led to the election of Jane Dodds as the new MP for Brecon and Radnorshire.

"The people of Brecon and Radnorshire have spoken. It's now time that people throughout these islands are heard, too, in a Final Say referendum.

"But if the prime minister is intent on a general election, he should know that Plaid Cymru and the other pro-Remain parties are committed to cooperating so that we beat Brexit once and for all."

There was a 12.0% swing from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats in the by-election - if this size of swing were repeated across the country at a general election, the Lib Dems would stand to gain up to a further 13 seats from the Tories.

Labour's vote share dropped by 12.5 percentage points compared with the 2017 general election. This was a bigger drop than that recorded by the Conservatives (down 9.6 percentage points).

It is a theme for Labour - its share of vote has gone down in every by-election since the EU referendum, with the exception of Batley and Spen which wasn't contested by the main parties.

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