Conservative councillor for Walton South, Christine Elmer leaves the Conservative Party and switches her allegiance to the Liberal Democrats
Having spent 11 years working for the Conservatives, Walton South councillor Christine Elmer, has joined the Liberal Democrats party today. She announced her departure on Twitter saying:
"I can no longer be a Conservative due to this Gov's hard Brexit. I have today joined the Lib Dems" whilst sharing the link to the Liberal Democrats member sign-up page.
Against the Conservative Brexit, Christine Elmer said:
"I have been unhappy for some time with the political direction of the Conservative party. In recent days this situation had escalated by a series of events, including the announcement by the Prime Minister of a general election about the handling of the terms of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.
As a fervent Remainer I find I can no longer support the government's line on this, nor that of the current MP Dominic Raab. I now find it impossible to be a member of the Conservative party and have therefore decided to join the Liberal Democrat party.
I have served Walton South ward since 2006. In 2014 for the first time in 40 years of Elmbridge Council electoral history I was returned unopposed and in 2016 I received the highest number of votes in the all-out elections called for the ward. I therefore believe I have a personal mandate to continue in office. It is not my intention to cause a by-election.
I will do my best to continue to represent my constituents of Walton South and to look after their interests regardless of political interest. I feel I will be better able to do that as a member of a political party that I can support 100% both at a national level and locally. That party is the Liberal Democrat party."
Richard Waller, Chairman of the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats extended her a warm welcome:
"The Elmbridge Liberal Democrats are delighted to welcome Christine Elmer to the party. She is recognised as being a highly competent Elmbridge councillor and in addition will reinforce our voice opposing a hard Brexit nationally."
Andrew Davis, Liberal Democrat candidate for Esher & Walton in the General Election sees this as part of a growing trend:
"In Esher and Walton, we are seeing more and more people choosing to support the Liberal Democrats. Christine Elmer is one of many. Support for the Liberal Democrats is growing locally and nationally. The Conservatives lost their majority here in the 2016 borough council elections. And in the last six days, since the snap election was called, we've had 12,500 new members join the party.
"Elmbridge is pro-Europe and 60% of us here voted Remain. Yet Dominic Raab, the local Conservative MP, is pushing for a hard Brexit. The majority here don't want a hard Brexit. People here are making their voices heard and choosing Liberal Democrats for Esher and Walton."
About Christine Elmer
Christine Elmer has lived in Elmbridge for over 50 years and has represented Walton South as a Conservative member since May 2006. She was Cabinet Member for Corporate Development from 2008-2010, and has held the post of cabinet member for Social Affairs since May 2010. From 2001-2007 she was a senior policy advisor at DEFRA.
She is married to Chris, a former Elmbridge councillor, who also left the Conservative Party last year to join the Liberal Democrats following the EU referendum. They have two children.
Liberal Democrats rule out coalition with May’s Conservatives or Corbyn’s Labour Tim Farron rules out coalition deals with Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn
Tim Farron has ruled out doing any coalition deals with Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn after the election.
Every Liberal Democrat vote and every Liberal Democrat MP elected is a challenge to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda. In the next parliament we will fight to stop a disastrous Hard Brexit, keep Britain in the Single Market and make sure people have their say on the final Brexit deal in a referendum with remain as an option.
We don't rule out future coalitions - we believe in plural politics - but we won't do one with May or Corbyn.
This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to stop a Hard Brexit, if you want to keep us in the Single Market, if you want a real opposition, this is your chance. But you can only do that by voting Liberal Democrat.
With a large number of pro-European Lib Dem MPs in the next parliament we can force the government to soften its approach to Brexit and give people the final say over what comes next.
What about the Tories?
Under no conditions can we sign up to Theresa May's Hard Brexit agenda. She is going to be the Prime Minister - that's not in doubt. Our job will be to hold her to account and fight for the things we believe in – above all else our membership of the single market and for the people to have the final say on the deal.
What about Labour?
Everybody knows Jeremy Corbyn won't be the next Prime Minister. There is no prospect of a coalition that would put him in power. There are many issues that Labour and the Liberal Democrats agree on and many people on their side that we respect - but we won't put Corbyn into power. He is pro-Brexit, has promised to pull us out of the single market and marched his MPs and Peers through the lobbies to vote for article 50 without any concessions from the Tories. On top of that, he would be a disaster for the country - he has no plan for the country, our economy and offers no leadership.
Are you ruling out a progressive alliance?
We want to work with like-minded, pro-European people of all parties and none to oppose Theresa May's Hard Brexit agenda and fight for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united. But everyone knows Jeremy Corbyn won't be the next Prime Minister and we wouldn't want him to be. We will work with pro-European MPs in any party to stand up to the Conservatives over Hard Brexit, but Corbyn is not that - and there is no prospect of a coalition that would put him in power.
Would you join a coalition with the SNP?
We won’t be doing a deal with the SNP at Westminster because, whatever they might say, they are only interested in getting independence. They will not be interested in making a success of the UK.
Jeremy Corbyn can't lead his party, let alone a country Jeremy Corbyn is never going to be Prime Minister because he can't even lead his own party
Jeremy Corbyn is never going to be Prime Minister because he can't even lead his own party, the Liberal Democrats have said.
Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's speech today, Liberal Democrat Shadow First Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael said: “Jeremy Corbyn is never going to be Prime Minister. He can’t lead his own party, let alone our country. The more people see him, the less they want to vote for him.
"That is not just my view. It is the view of the 172 Labour MPs who just last year said they had no confidence in his leadership.
“That’s why senior Labour figures such as Bob Marshall-Andrews are defecting to the Liberal Democrats.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has waved the white flag on Brexit, is failing as an opposition and has given Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue a divisive Hard Brexit. They are hopelessly divided, have no plan for the economy and are clearly unfit for government.
“This is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit, if you want to keep Britain in the Single Market, if you want Britain to have a decent opposition – vote Liberal Democrat.
“The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united."
Tim Farron on TV debates: What is Theresa May so scared of? The Prime Minister has so far refused to take part
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called out Theresa May for refusing to take part in televised debates as ITV announced they will go ahead with a leaders' debate.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions today, Tim Farron said: “This election can change the direction of our country. From the consequences of potential hard Brexit outside the Single Market to the future of our NHS and social care, schools and environment.
“The British people deserve to hear party leaders set out their plans and debate them publicly. But the Prime Minister has refused to take part in televised leaders’ debates.
“The Prime Minister and I, back in 1992, debated publicly, forcibly and amicably when we were both candidates together.
“Indeed, the Prime Minister called out the then incumbent who did not show up for some of those debates.
“Why will she not publicly debate these issues now - what is she scared of?”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron responds to snap general election announcement
If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.
What this means for Britain
Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.
Labour won’t win any seats off the Conservatives.
The SNP could only possibly win one seat off the Conservatives.
But there are dozens of Conservative seats where the Lib Dems are the challengers. The only way to stop Theresa May winning a majority is by the Lib Dems winning in those seats.
The only way to prevent a Conservative majority is by voting Liberal Democrat.
The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael explains what this means for Britain:
How you can help
If you want to change the direction of your country, join the Liberal Democrats today.
More than 500 people joined the party in the 20 minutes after Theresa May announced the snap election. This is your chance to do the same.
You can also join the Liberal Democrats' growing army of volunteers. Whether you can help out for several weeks, or just a few hours, we need you!
Whether you prefer to deliver leaflets, talk to voters on the phone or help out with office admin, your help will make a huge difference.
And if you've never volunteered before, you're not alone. 75% of people who have joined our national volunteer team are new!
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Catherine Bearder on cracking form in the European Parliament.
Surrey Liberal Democrats have unveiled a full slate of 81 candidates across every division in Surrey to take on the Conservative-administration at County Hall in May's elections - the only opposition party to do so.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said today:
A full list of Liberal Democrat candidates can be found here:
The Liberal Democrat County manifesto for 2017 can be found here:
Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey are delighted that following a question in the House of Lords by Lib Dem Environment spokesperson Baroness Kate Parminter, it has again been confirmed that DIY waste should be disposed of for free.
The Conservative Minister Lord Bourne, stated in a written answer on 20th March 2017 that DIY waste is household waste and should therefore be disposed of for free. However Conservative-run Surrey County Council continues to charge for the disposal of waste from DIY claiming that it is not household waste.
Cllr Stephen Cooksey, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Environment & Highways, said: "The reply from Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government clearly states that there should not be any charges for DIY waste disposal. We once again call on Surrey Conservatives to scrap these unlawful charges, and this time we expect them to take notice of us as we clearly have the Minister's support. Surely Surrey County Council cannot defy a Government Minister?".
The written answer from Lord Bourne is here:
The Local Authorities (prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015 prevents local authorities from charging their residents to dispose of household waste and recycling at household waste recycling centres. Furthermore, Government has been clear that DIY waste should be classed as household waste if it results from work a householder (living within the authority area) would normally carry out, and that this should be disposed of at household waste recycling centres for free. (20th March 2017)
LOCAL PEOPLE ARE BACKING THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS POSITIVE PLAN FOR AN OPEN, TOLERANT AND UNITED BRITAIN
Many local people are switching to back the Liberal Democrats because they’re the only party with a plan for our country.
With Article 50 triggered, it’s clearer than ever that Labour and the Conservatives are lost without a plan.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron says, “I think even people who disagree with us will respect the fact we are standing by what we believe.” “And for the many millions of people who agree with us, my message to them is: join us.”
The Liberal Democrats have seen their membership surge to 87,000 on the same day Article 50 is triggered.
Over 5,000 members have joined the party since the beginning of February, when Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.
This comes amid reports that the Labour Party's membership has fallen by almost 11,000 over the last four weeks.
Liberal Democrat President Sal Brinton commented: "The clear message to this Government is we have not given up the fight against a hard Brexit, and thousands of people across the country agree with us.
"This is not the time for despair, it's the time for action.
"Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour may have given Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue her divisive Hard Brexit.