Tories could face joint Lib Dem and Plaid by-election bid

The Conservative Party could face off against a joint Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru bid in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election triggered by the ousting of Tory MP Chris Davies.

The Lib Dems held the seat between 1997 and 2015 and could be aided by the pro-remain Welsh national party in order to help secure a People’s Vote in the House of Commons.

A swing of 9.8% would be needed by the Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds to win the seat which saw a majority of 8,038 for Mr Davies in 2017.

A source within Plaid Cymru said while the party could field its own candidate for the by-election, it was “open” to pacts, agreements, and even a joint candidate for the upcoming by-election, adding the Lib Dems would be “the likely choice” to work with.

Following Mr Davies’ ousting as MP on Friday Plaid Cymru said in a statement it would “explore options for how we can work together” with other parties to help deliver a fresh EU referendum.

Christopher Davies
Christopher Davies

A spokesman said: “The people of Brecon and Radnorshire have spoken and a by-election will now take place. This will likely be a crucial first test for the incoming Conservative Prime Minister.

“The two-party status quo in Westminster is breaking down. In last month’s European elections many voters broke the habit of a lifetime by choosing to back pro-People’s Vote parties, rather than the Conservatives or Labour.

“Ensuring those of us who want to see a fresh referendum work together, at every possible level, to deliver this aim is crucial. We will explore options for how we can work together, across party lines, to deliver this in the upcoming Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.”

The Lib Dems have nominated Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh arm of the party, as its parliamentary candidate for the seat, who said voters have a “clear choice” between her and the Tories.

She said: “Thousands of residents across Brecon and Radnorshire have taken the chance to demand better than a Westminster politics that fails to take their concerns seriously.

“Now we have a golden opportunity to do things differently. The clear choice in this by-election is between the Conservatives, whose chaos and infighting is letting our communities down, and a better future for our area with the Welsh Lib Dems.”

Asked about working together with Plaid Cymru, she said: “We’re very clear we’re going to campaign as Liberal Democrats. We’re not looking at anything that’s different to that.”

The Brexit Party, which topped polls in the county of Powys in the EU elections, confirmed it would be contesting the by-election but had yet to select from a list of candidates.

Party chairman Richard Tice said: “The sheer scale of the vote to force a recall and a by-election shows how strongly the level of dissatisfaction with politics in the country is rising up the agenda.

“The Brexit Party will be contesting the forthcoming by election.

“It is clear that people of this county want to change politics for good.”

Very happy that we have a fantastic @WelshLabour candidate who will stand up for people across Brecon & Radnorshire.

The Tories need to call the by-election as soon as possible so our communities are properly represented in Parliament.#StandingUpForWales#StandingUpForBandR

— Mark Drakeford AM (@MarkDrakeford) June 21, 2019

Welsh Labour, who will also be fielding Brecon town councillor Tom Davies, said: “The recall result is another huge blow to Chris Davies’ credibility to serve as Member of Parliament. This is a mess all of his making.

“The Conservatives must not drag their feet. They should listen to the wishes of the voters of Brecon and Radnorshire, call an immediate by-election and let the people hold them to account.”

The by-election, triggered after 19% of constituents signed a recall petition to remove Mr Davies from office, could be the first test for the new Tory leader, who is set be announced during the week of 22 July.

If the Tories were to lose the by-election, a date for which has yet to be announced, the Government’s working majority in the House of Commons would be reduced to three.