How should pro-Europeans vote in 13 Lib-Lab marginals?

by Hugo Dixon | 16.05.2017

You’re a pro-European voter in a seat currently held by Labour. But the Liberal Democrats have a chance of winning the seat. Where should you put your cross on June 8? The answer depends on just how pro-European the sitting Labour MP is – and whether a Tory Brexiter could win the seat if the pro-European vote is split.

We’ve analysed 13 Labour-held seats which the Lib Dems might just win. In fives cases, we think the Lib Dems are the best bet; in one Labour is. In the remaining seven, pro-Europeans can safely vote for either party.

How should you vote?

One of the five cases, Vauxhall, is easy. The incumbent Labour MP, Kate Hoey, voted for Brexit. George Turner, the Lib Dem, candidate is the obvious pro-European choice.

The other four cases – Burnley, Birmingham Yardley, Bradford East and Redcar – are also pretty clear. The sitting Labour MPs did all vote Remain in last year’s referendum. But they have not taken a strong stand against Brexit since. For example, they didn’t defy Jeremy Corbyn by voting against triggering Article 50. In these seats, a Lib Dem who is more committed to fight Brexit would be a better bet.

The one Labour MP worth backing against a Lib Dem challenge is Clive Lewis. He resigned from the shadow cabinet after Corbyn imposed a three-line whip over Article 50. His Norwich South seat may not seem a Lib Dem target since the party came fourth there in 2015. However, the party did hold it before then. It would be a shame if the Conservatives beat Lewis because the pro-European vote was split between Labour, Lib Dem and Green.

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There’s no such risk in the other seven cases. In all of these, the Labour incumbent voted against Article 50 and so has strong pro-European credentials.

Look at Cambridge, where the sitting MP Daniel Zeichner is being pursued by Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem whom he replaced. Or look at Bristol West, a three-way marginal where Thangam Debbonaire is being chased by Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP, with the Lib Dems in third place. Our advice to pro-Europeans in these cases is to follow their heart and vote for whichever candidate they prefer on other grounds.

Edited by Rachel Franklin