Welsh Lib Dem refuses to stand down as part of Unite to Remain pact
PUBLISHED: 17:05 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:13 07 November 2019
PA/Welsh Liberal Democrats
A Liberal Democrat candidate asked to stand aside as part of a pro-Remain election pact has vowed to run as an independent and has claimed that members of his party are "extremely unhappy" about how the deal was struck.
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Mike Powell, who intended to stand in Pontypridd as a Lib Dem candidate, said he was asked to stand aside as part of the Unite to Remain pact three weeks ago.
The pact, organised by former MP Heidi Allen, sees the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party agree not to stand against each other in 60 seats across England and Wales to give voters a single pro-Remain choice.
WATCH: 'Unprecedented' - Pro-Remain parties agree not to contest each other in 60 seats
As part of the pact, a Plaid candidate will stand in Pontypridd.
But Powell, who has been the county borough councillor for Trallwn since 1999, is refusing to cooperate with the pact and will instead stand as an independent.
He said he was given a minute to consider the proposal, and when he refused he was given another five minutes.
He said: "I think that people deserve to have an opportunity to vote for someone who's going to represent the people of Pontypridd, rather than standing to represent a cause to remove Wales from the United Kingdom."
He added: "I don't think I will split the Remain vote. That won't happen. It will not be a split. I understand the fundamentals.
"We're dealing with Plaid Cymru, they're the Welsh nationalist party. We're not dealing with the Scottish Nationalist Party, we're not dealing with the English nationalist party.
"These are nationalists. They want to remove Wales from the United Kingdom."
He continued: "I don't see them as a Remain party as such. Their ultimate goal is to remove Wales from the United Kingdom. And myself and a lot of people in the valleys are not prepared to vote for that."
Earlier this year Plaid Cymru along with the Welsh Labour Party switched the Welsh government's position to campaign to stay in the EU.
MORE: Welsh government officially switches to campaign for Remain
Powell said he has not canvassed people, or tried to persuade people to resign from the Lib Dems, but added: "I know there is an awful lot of members in the Welsh Liberal Democrats who are extremely unhappy with the way this negotiation has been dealt with.
"The weakness of the leadership has come to the fore."
He clarified that he was not referring to Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson but to the leadership in Wales.
Layla Moran, Lib Dem candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, said it is "really regrettable" that Powell is standing as an independent.
She told World At One that the "bigger picture" is what is so historic about the Unite to Remain cause.
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"I think for the vast majority of candidates it is with agreement, and some of the ones I've spoken to have actually done it almost enthusiastically because they can see that bigger picture of how working together puts across that strong message of actually grown-up politics, and fighting first past the post, and we all know that the electoral system is not our friend in these situations," she said.
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