PEOPLE intending to vote for UKIP in Newbury have been asked to vote for Conservative candidate Richard Benyon instead.
UKIP has entered the tactical voting fray in an effort to see Brexit passed.
Mr Benyon campaigned for the Remain campaign in last year’s referendum, but has since “supported the will of the people” and voted to trigger the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The chairman of Newbury UKIP, Roy Tubb, said that Brexit was the main issue facing voters and that Mr Benyon backing the Government over Brexit “may cause some diehard remainers to desert him”.
He said: “Recent electoral history shows that Newbury cannot be considered a safe Conservative seat.
“With this in mind, UKIP Newbury has decided reluctantly not to field a candidate, because that would only split the potential ‘Brexit vote’.
“The result of the referendum needs to be accepted and supported in Parliament.
“We suggest therefore that UKIP supporters consider voting for Richard Benyon, if only to increase the chance of the referendum result being properly implemented.”
Reacting to the news Mr Benyon said: “I think it’s more about the fact they didn’t have anyone to stand here.
“I’ve not had any conversation with UKIP. Undoubtedly they are in trouble in this election and their decision not to field a candidate in West Berkshire reflects that.
“People are more concerned about what Brexit means for West Berkshire and their statement rightly says that I campaigned hard for Britain to remain in the EU.
“I want the deal that’s reached to reflect the needs of West Berkshire businesses, many of whom trade with and in the EU.”
UKIP finished third in Newbury during the 2015 General Election, with 10 per cent of the votes cast (6,195), close behind the Liberal Democrats’ 15 per cent (8,605) and beating Labour’s 8.4 per cent (4,837).
UKIP’s apparent endorsement of Mr Benyon was welcomed by Liberal Democrat candidate Judith Bunting.
She said: “It’s not often that I agree with UKIP but in this case I think they’re spot on – this is no longer a safe Tory seat.
“The way that Richard Benyon changed his position was very disappointing. I don’t think he has changed his mind, he’s following the party line.
“He’s choosing party over the people he represents.
“We need representation of the people who live here, not a representative who puts their needs and political party’s needs above those of the area.
“To the 48 per cent I say stick with the Liberal Democrats.
“We are working in every way we can to stop the destructive hard Brexit course that Theresa May is setting the country on.”
Mrs Bunting said that people should have the choice of another referendum once a final deal for leaving the EU had been agreed.
Labour candidate Alex Skirvin said that Labour would seek a progressive deal that would not endanger businesses.
He said: “It goes to show that Richard Benyon supports a hard and dangerous Brexit and that UKIP associating with him goes to show what kind of values are on offer in the election.
“There’s a clear choice between progressive values offered by the Labour Party and regressive hard values offered by the Conservatives.
“Labour accepts the result of the referendum, but wants to retain membership of the customs union and single market.
“I would also say that the election is not just about Brexit. It’s about schools and local service cuts, which have had quite a devastating affect on the local area and across the country.”