Our press release, just issued…
The organisation behind a Remain alliance has backed independent candidate Claire Wright as its preferred general election candidate in East Devon despite rival parties failing to agree a truce in the seat.
Unite to Remain last week identified 60 seats where a deal had been struck between the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, in a move to defeat Conservative candidates.
The non-party campaign group has revealed that it also proposed Claire Wright – and whose 21,000 votes in 2017 make her the clear challenger to the Tories – but were unable to persuade the Lib Dems or Greens to stand aside.
Unite to Remain director Peter Dunphy said the organisation had not included East Devon in the list of candidates but urged Remain voters to back Claire Wright as the best chance to wrest the seat from Tory control.
“It was not possible to gain cross-party agreement for a single candidate in every key constituency that we considered,” added Dunphy.
“Ultimately it has been up to the political parties in consultation with local members to make these tough choices.
“Sadly, we were unable to gain Unite to Remain all-party agreement in East Devon where we had proposed Claire Wright as the clear challenger to the Conservatives.
“Our suggestion therefore is to follow the excellent tactical voting advice of Best for Britain and Gina Miller’s Remainunited to support the Remain candidate with the best chance of victory, which in the case of East Devon is the Independent Claire Wright.”
Wright, who won 35 per cent of the vote compared to the Lib Dems’ 2 per cent, said she had never approached any of her rivals or asked them to give her a free run.
However, she welcomed the Unite to Remain endorsement and insisted voters could make their own decisions about whether to vote tactically based on past results.
The county councillor said she hoped the clarification would now put an end to calls by her supporters, and even some rival supporters, for the Greens and Lib Dems to step aside.
“I have never asked for any favours from my rivals and I respect their decision to stand and fight for the seat,” she added.
“Of course, running as a sole candidate against the Conservatives would appear to give me a better chance but I am not asking anyone for an easy ride.
“I have fought a fair and positive campaign twice, without assistance, increasing my share of the vote without resorting to personal attacks and I don’t intend to start now.
“I would now urge my supporters to concentrate all of their energy on getting this people-powered campaign over the line.
“And, of course, we must avoid the danger presented by Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement – which could condemn us to years of trade negotiations and threaten the NHS – by offering the public a democratic vote which includes the option of Remain.”