The Liberal Democrat’s victory in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election is not just a significant win for the party and for me. It carries huge significance for the Remain cause, as well as the future of UK politics.
Since the last election in 2017, and especially since the referendum in 2016, we have seen a seismic shift in the political landscape and the social environment that runs parallel. Party lines have become more and more blurred and, in some cases, gone too far for some to stomach.
Our party, the Greens and Plaid Cymru recognised that now is the time to put differences aside and act in the national interest.
The archaic first-past-the-post voting system that we have in this country dictates and distorts the make-up of our Parliament. Coming together, and offering the people of Brecon and Radnorshire a united Remain candidate provides people with a binary choice.
As a country, we now need to decide if we want to give Boris Johnson a mandate to instigate a no-deal Brexit, or whether we want to see MPs elected to Parliament who will fight for an alternative.
I do not believe that what is good for Boris Johnson is good for the country. There is a bigger picture, and I can’t just sit by whilst our economy shrinks, whilst our pound dips in value and while the livelihoods of farmers are threatened.
The Liberal Democrats have been waiting in the wings since the end of Nick Clegg’s coalition government and we are building momentum every day. As a party, we once again have a realistic prospect of securing greater representation, and representing a greater diversity of voices.
There is a bigger picture, and I can’t just sit by whilst our economy shrinks, whilst our pound dips in value and while the livelihoods of farmers are threatened.
The Conservatives are consumed with reclaiming the ground that was won by the Brexit party in the European Elections – they know that they will need those votes if they are to continue in government.
The result is that since Article 50 was triggered in 2017, Parliament has ground to a halt. There has been little to no legislation and no public debate around keys issues like health, education and the failing transport network we have, particularly affecting those in rural areas.
Boris Johnson’s majority now stands at just one in the House of Commons and all of us can name at least a handful of liberal-minded Tories who won’t be backing their prime minister.
He has no mandate for the Brexit that he is pursuing. How many of those that voted to Leave are happy at the prospect of leaving without a deal?
The people of Brecon and Radnorshire, at least, have rejected the status quo. Another Liberal Democrat MP in Parliament is another vote to oppose the Conservative government’s assumption of no deal.
Too many people in this country are being let down, and they deserve better. My first goal is to push for greater support for our communities, be it social care provision for the elderly, or ensuring that people aren’t having to rely on food banks to have meals on their tables.
And as the only Welsh Liberal Democrat MP, I will make it my priority to protect the rural economy of Wales – I believe there’s no bigger threat to that than a no-deal Brexit.
I represent a party that is leading the drive towards a different kind of politics. We want to see opportunities that are readily available to all, regardless of background, gender, race, or who you love, and to put local people back at the heart of decision-making that affects them.
Our political environment is divided, but not beyond repair. My election shows that there is an appetite for change, and that there is a clear trajectory for collegiate working, in what is a time of national crisis.
The momentum that the Liberal Democrats have, and the swell in support that we have seen provides really optimism, and Sheffield Hallam: we are coming for you next.
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