Mon, 19 Jun 2017
THE Liberal Democrats say they remain the leading progressive party in West Berkshire after their candidate Judith Bunting finished second behind Conservative rival Richard Benyon in the General Election.
Mrs Bunting received 13,019 votes, which represented a 21.4 per cent share and an increase on the 15 per cent share she received in 2015.
In her speech, Mrs Bunting warned Mr Benyon to stick by his words.
“I want to say to Richard: ‘please do stand up for our area’.
“Please do live up to what you said and try and stop this stinking hard Brexit that we are heading for at the moment.
“We know where your heart lies. We want you to stand up for what your constituency believes in.”
Speaking to the NWN she said: “It’s a real testament to our fabulous volunteers and the positive campaign that they ran that our vote share increased to 21 per cent when the Conservatives stayed rock steady.
“It looks like the UKIP vote was split more or less evenly between the Conservatives and Labour.
“We are still a very strong second party and we have reacted strongly on the result of 2015 and I look forward to the next election.”
Mrs Bunting said that the Conservatives losing their majority was a testament to people not being happy with the “brutal, hard Brexit” that Theresa May had set out.
Nationally, the Lib Dems finished the night on 12 seats – up from the nine they ended on in 2015.
However, it was a mixed night with former party leader, Nick Clegg, losing his Sheffield Hallam seat.
The party also lost control of Richmond, which they won in a by-election last year, by just 45 votes.
In better news for the Lib Dems, Sir Vince Cable was re-elected to Twickenham.
Mrs Bunting said that the party’s national expectations had been “modest” and that she was disappointed that Mr Clegg had lost his seat.
After the Conservatives entered negotiations with the DUP in order to form a minority government, Mrs Bunting said the decision to call an election had been embarrassing for the PM.
“The election result was an utter humiliation for Theresa May, it is time for her to stop trying to cling to power and to admit that enough is enough,” Mrs Bunting said.
“This is the biggest embarrassment that a Prime Minister can face. She cannot announce her agenda because she has no idea what she can actually get through Parliament.
“The Tories are hanging on to office, desperate for a deal from the DUP, turning them into the May DUP government. This May DUP coalition has fallen at the first hurdle.”
Mrs Bunting said that the uncertainty caused by the election, and the possibility of another on the way, was bad for the country, especially with Brexit negotiations looming.
The Lib Dems are calling for a cross-party joint cabinet committee to negotiate Brexit to negotiate a final deal, which could then be put out to the British people.
“Things will only get worse unless Theresa May abandons her plans for an extreme, UKIP-style Brexit, outside the single market and customs union,” Mrs Bunting said.
“There is now a new mood in Parliament and amongst some ministers to look for a compromise that will protect our economy and living standards.”
Mrs Bunting said it was time for the UK to adopt proportional representation given the hung Parliament result.
“In the recent election PR would have delivered 48 seats to the Liberal Democrats and 11 parliamentary seats to the Greens. A much more representative division of opinion than as things stand.”