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Lib Dem members welcome Sarah Wollaston MP

August 19, 2019 9:01 PM
Sarah W members meetingLiberal Democrat members from across the Totnes constituency today enthusiastically welcomed Sarah Wollaston MP into their party.
Sarah is now the 14th Lib Dem MP in the House of Commons.
At a packed event in the Royal Seven Stars hotel, Sarah and Caroline Voaden said that they were looking forward to working together as MP and MEP.
Sarah was applauded as she told those present: "What we need is MPs from across the House of Commons to actually put country before party." And she predicted the group would number more than 14 by the time the House reconvenes in early September.
Members questioned Sarah on a range of topics from the likely scenarios facing Westminster and the country between now and October 31st, the day Britain is due to leave the European Union under Brexit, to her own voting record as a Conservative MP.
"We need to reach out to moderate Tory voters and persuade them, as I have been persuaded myself, that the Tory party is finished. It has shipped off to the right. It is not interested in tackling burning injustices, it has become obsessed with a destructive project to take us out despite all the evidence of the harm.
"Decent people who were traditionally Conservative voters in this constituency are deeply unhappy about that and of course we need to reach out to them."
Sarah said she knew her voting record would be questioned from all sides when she faces the public in an election campaign: "Your voting record is always thrown at you. And it is one of the real dilemmas about being in a political party. Very often you are trying to influence a decision and you have to try and influence it from within, but ultimately it is a collective decision. So there will have been many occasions where I've voted, but what people don't see is how much worse it would have been if there hadn't been people in the moderate wing of the party like Heidi (Allen) and myself making the case for the centre ground.
"It is a massive relief to be in a party where genuinely tackling social justice and burning injustices is actually at the core of what you are about - so yes I shall be in a much better place."
Sarah said she didn't believe Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be able to unify MPs to vote against a No Deal Brexit when parliament reconvenes. An important rule in politics is to be able to count and although Mr Corbyn should have an opportunity to attempt to form a stable government, no one seriously expects him to be able to do so and at that point he should be prepared to accept that someone does so in the national interest.
But she thought it would only work "if Jeremy Corbyn whips his colleagues to say they'd support that figure and that's the danger, I don't think he will. For that reason other approaches are being discussed on a constructive cross-party basis to try to prevent No Deal".
Caroline Voaden, Lib Dem MEP for SW England and Gibraltar told party members about work being done by the 16 Lib Dem MEPs in Brussels with their European colleagues to encourage the EU to agree to a long extension if we get to the point where one is asked for.
South Hams Lib Dems Chair Alan Kerr formally welcomed Sarah to the party and told members that as the sitting Lib Dem MP, Sarah would be the party's Totnes candidate for any forthcoming general election.
Members from across the Totnes constituency attended the meeting, along with members from Plymouth and Torbay and Parliamentary Candidates Sima Davarian from South West Devon and Eleanor Rylance from East Devon.