CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Gina Miller’s Best For Britain group backs Tulip Siddiq to fight ‘extreme’ Brexit

Tactical voting campaign announced to help anti-Brexit candidates

15 May, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Gina Miller

A CAMPAIGN group which warns the United Kingdom is heading for a disastrous ‘extreme’ Brexit has named Labour’s Tulip Siddiq among 16 candidates who it says should be supported at next month’s general election.

Gina Miller, the businesswoman who took the government to court to demand MPs had a vote on triggering Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the European Union, is leading Best For Britain, which is offering campaign help to pro-EU candidates at risk of defeat on June 8. The 16 include Labour candidates like Ms Siddiq, Liberal Democrats including former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, who is bidding to retain her seat in Brighton Pavilion.

The group said it had identified the candidates it wanted to aid on the basis that they “support a real choice on the final deal and ready to fight extreme Brexit”, “are fighting a winnable seat but not a dead certainty” and “have an immaculate track record”.

Ms Siddiq rebelled against her own party to vote against Article 50 earlier this year in the House of Commons. But her place in parliament is in real jeopardy with the Conservatives posted as favourites to take the seat with candidate Claire-Louise Leyland. Ms Leyland campaigned to Remain in the EU last year, but now says the public has made its choice and it is up to Theresa May to lead the country through tough Brexit negotiations.

Tulip Siddiq voted against triggering Article 50

More than 75 percent of people in Camden who took part in last June’s referendum wanted the country to stay in the union. One of the great unknowns of the campaign locally, however, is how many so-called ‘re-leavers’ there are on the patch: voters who backed Remain but now want the Brexit debate to be finally resolved with a final deal.

Best For Britain’s support for Ms Siddiq is a potential blow for the Liberal Democrats, who have are looking to stand out locally on an anti-Brexit ticket, particularly as it is also backing Mr Clegg and their candidates in Cheadle, Hazel Grove and Richmond. Kirsty Allan, the party’s candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn, has repeatedly said that her campaign is the only one really representing people who voted to Remain.

The local Camden For Europe group has already endorsed Ms Siddiq, while members of Open Britain were also backing the local Labour campaign on Saturday.

Labour organisers are hoping the support from pro-EU groupes will in some way mitigate the potential boost their Conservative rivals have received by the decision of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to not run a candidate against Ms Siddiq. UKIP tallied more than 1,500 votes here in 2015 and the assumption is that these residents would now back Ms May’s determination to get on with Brexit talks.

Claire-Louise Leyland campaigning in West Hampstead with Justice Secretary Liz Truss

It is unclear how Best For Britain, which has raised £400,000, will help Ms Siddiq but it could include campaign visits, marketing and a possible cash donation.

“Best For Britain is a positive, thoughtful and constructive initiative and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Ms Siddiq.

Ms Leyland has said through her election campaign: “I campaigned for Remain, but whatever your view on Brexit, we need a plan to get us through. Both Labour and Conservatives are committed to Brexit, but only Theresa May has a plan to make it work.”

Ms Allan has warned a vote for Ms Siddiq would still be a vote for a Labour Party which had dithered on Europe, telling the New Journal at the start of the campaign: “I don’t particularly see a distinction between the two parties on this issue. They really are both pushing for Brexit, and Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear that he is not prepared to do anything to stand up to Theresa May. I’m sure there will be a lot of tactical voting in this area but to my mind Labour and the Tories are both as bad as each other on this issue.”

Kirsty Allan

Ms Miller told the Observer yesterday (Sunday) that the candidates Best For Britain had decided to help “must be backing that real choice on the final, meaningful vote at the end of the deal”, adding: “Being supported by an organisation headed by me will have its own media impact, and that has to be in the equation – and the fact that they will be accused of ‘unpicking Brexit’, because there is a lot of misunderstanding about what we are trying to do. There is still this idea that it is about reversing Brexit. But we are very clear that this is not about going backwards; it is about going forwards.”

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