The Green Party has selected a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for the Lewes constituency.
Katie Hawks, a teacher, buildings conservationist, and long-standing Green Party activist, was selected by the party on Wednesday (April 26).
The appointment follows calls from the Liberal Democrat PPC Kelly-Marie Blundell for the party to consider standing aside as part of a progressive alliance – a movement which has seen candidates standing down in key seats to encourage tactical voting. The calls followed a decision by Lib Dems not to stand a candidate in Brighton Pavilion, the seat of Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.
In response to questions about a potential alliance, local party elections co-ordinator Anthony Shuster said: “As we head into the final days of the County Council election campaign, where there is an exciting opportunity to elect Johnny Denis as the first Green County Councillor in East Sussex in the Ringmer and Lewes Bridge division, we in Lewes District Greens have heard many local people call for a ‘progressive alliance’ in Lewes for the General Election.
“We can reveal that we have approached the Lib Dems to try and reach an agreement on shared goals, including the most important one for all progressive, pro-Europe voters in Lewes – unseating our fervently pro-hard-Brexit Conservative MP.
“Greens welcome the decision by Brighton Liberal Democrats to stand down their candidate in Brighton Pavilion in the spirit of a progressive alliance. The Green Party has been calling for cooperation between progressive parties since the day this election was announced.
“However, calls for the Greens to stand down in Lewes must be matched with a balanced gesture from the Liberal Democrats.
“Any progressive alliance between parties seeking to deny Theresa May a mandate to pursue a hard Brexit must focus on supporting candidates who can win seats from the Conservatives. There is no prospect of a Tory win in Brighton Pavilion. More is needed than empty gestures.
“Instead, the Lib Dems must consider standing down in a seat where Greens are best placed to beat the Tories – such as the Isle of Wight.
“We have suggested a range of options to the Lib Dems that would indicate a clear willingness on their part to work together to achieve progressive goals. Unfortunately they are not prepared to offer any serious level of cooperation.
“They appear to be holding out for a deal with Lewes, based on their decision not to stand in Brighton Pavilion: a decision which, although encouraging as a show of support for Caroline Lucas, does not build the emerging progressive alliance in a balanced way.
“We will look to resume talks with the Lib Dems, so that we can move closer to securing the result we all hope for: defeat for Theresa May’s hard Brexit agenda, and a voice in Parliament for the progressive, pro-Europe majority in our community.
“In the meantime we have a message for voters in the local County Council elections next week: show your support for a progressive alliance. Use your local vote for the Greens - especially in Ringmer and Lewes Bridge, where Johnny Denis has a very strong chance of being elected as the first Green county councillor in East Sussex.”
In response to the Green Party decision, Ms Blundell said: “The constituency of Lewes is a Conservative/Liberal Democrat marginal seat and it is very disappointing that the Green Party, who have been prolific supporters of progressive alliances as well as welcoming moves by other parties to stand down, have taken this stance.
“Every day I meet people who regret voting green in 2015 and will now be voting Liberal Democrat. The Green Party have lost credibility by standing a candidate.
“The people in the constituency of Lewes recognise a vote for Labour or the Greens locally is a wasted vote and are now backing the Liberal Democrats, who are standing up for the 48 per cent who voted remain in the referendum as well as the need for a robust opposition with Theresa May’s Conservatives are pursuing an extreme Brexit.”
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