CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Lib Dems select Belsize councillor to stand in European elections

Luisa Porritt party's stance fighting Brexit had helped her get elected to the Town Hall

20 April, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Liberal Democrats standing to be MEPs hold up their familiar orange diamonds, including Luisa Porritt on the right of the group

A LIBERAL Democrat councillor who took a council seat off the Tories at last year’s local elections has said her party’s stance on Brexit made her victory possible.

Luisa Porritt was speaking at the National Liberal Club on Thursday after being selected to stand in the London region at next month’s European elections. In the list system, she is placed as the third preference on a roll of eight Lib Dem candidates. In a proportional vote system the more support each party gets at the ballot box, the more candidates further down the list are elected.

Footage shows Cllr Porritt, expected to be a future leader of the Camden Lib Dems after helping to secure comeback gains at May’s local elections, telling members at an internal campaign launch: “I stood in a ward that was heavily targeted by both Labour and the Conservatives, and I can tell you our message is getting through, and we are going to get it through even more in this election.”

During the council election campaign, rivals had teased the Lib Dems, who won two of the three seats in previously all-blue Belsize, over how they could affect European policy from the council chamber. But the party remained consistent to an anti-Brexit position on the doorstep.

Talking about the fresh challenge of European elections at the end of May – which would none of the candidates would have been able to enter if the United Kingdom’s chaotic Brexit negotiations had not delayed a divorce date until October – Cllr Porritt added: “This is an existential election in terms of our relationship with the European Union, and people know that we have been unequivocal on our position on Brexit since June 2016. No other party can say that as firmly as we can.”

While a small group of Labour and Conservative MPs fed up with their parties’ stance on Brexit – including Chuka Umunna, briefly a past Labour leadership candidate, and Anna Soubry, the former TV journalist who has quit the Tories – formed the pro-EU independent group now known as Change UK, the Lib Dems insist they are still the leading choice for those who want Article 50 revoked.

Cllr Porritt said: “People are mobilised now. They want to go out and have their say, and all we have to do is campaign and capitalise on that.”

Ironically, the launch was held at the same private members club venue as her Conservative predecessor in Belsize ward, Claire-Louise Leyland, held her wedding last year.

Irinia Von Wiese and Dinesh Dhamija are in the two Lib Dem spots ahead of her on the London list for the elections.

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