Elaine Bagshaw says she and her campaign team now hear daily from disappointed Labour voters who feel betrayed over Brexit.
“We hear it over and over again,” the Liberal Democrat candidate for Poplar & Limehouse says. “On the doorstop, while getting a lift with boxes of campaign leaflets, on social media--a lot of times voters have approached us first, saying how disappointed they are in the incumbent Labour MP for voting with the Tories for Hard Brexit, against the wishes of over two thirds of his constituents.”
Tower Hamlets Lib Dems, which includes both the Poplar & Limehouse and the Bethnal Green & Bow constituencies, recently surpassed the mark of 700 local members: its highest count ever and a threefold increase since last year’s EU referendum. They also raised more than £5,000 in the week of the snap election call. Bagshaw says she has heard from both regular Labour and Tory voters, who are either committed to voting Lib Dem or thinking seriously about it.
“It’s not a big surprise to me that we are seeing this kind of backlash--not just because ours is such an emphatic Remain constituency, but because it may be Hard Brexit for the rest of the country, but for one of Britain’s poorest boroughs--it’s better described as Very Hard Brexit.”
The party’s national Brexit spokesman Nick Clegg pointed this week to independent research showing that a Hard Brexit would lead to £59-billion a year less for public services while also raising annual living costs by an average of £500 per family.
“We really cannot afford that in Poplar & Limehouse, and we didn’t vote for it either,” says Bagshaw. “Lib Dems are committed to staying in the Single Market so we can invest in protecting and improving our public services.”
“Some might suggest that this election shouldn’t be about Brexit, but about public services. I, like the vast majority of voters in Tower Hamlets, am in a situation I didn’t choose. But when Hard Brexit threatens our public services to such a degree, it makes no sense for candidates in this election to simply pretend it’s not an issue.”