The pro-Remain candidate is the favourite to win in the Leave-voting Welsh constituency
The Lib Dem candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire insists she has a lot to offer Leave voters because she is committed to “working with the local community” despite being a Remain-supporter.
Jane Dodds has been selected by the anti-Brexit party to stand in the marginal constituency – which has flip-flopped between the Lib Dems and Tories for several years – and is the favourite to win.
MP for Leave and Remain voters
Voters in the area told the Lib Dems, with their strong anti-Brexit message, were missing the message that residents support Brexit and, if anything, this support has grown in the last three years.
But Ms Dodds, a former social worker and leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, said she still had a lot to offer pro-Leave constituents because she wanted to work “on the ground for the local issues” that still matter, while the country continues to figure out a path forward with Brexit.
“We’ve had three years – how much longer are we going to have Brexit? [The constituents] want things to happen,” she said. “They want things to change. They want better broadband, they want banks, we all want better post offices and better high streets with no empty shops.”
People should have the chance to vote again
“We always said people should have the opportunity to vote on the conditions of an exit and there should be the option of remaining. We’ve been consistent on that, never lied on that on three years,” she said.
But, she added, if there was a second Leave victory in another referendum her party would accept it.
Ms Dodds said voters who are pro-Remain and aware of the informal alliance with the Green Party and Plaid Cymru view it as “encouraging” and “a new sort of politics – a fresher approach to how we can tackle these massive issues that we can join together on”.
‘Honest and upfront about Brexit’
While the Liberal Democrats have been shouting about “bollocks to Brexit” and staying in the EU, the local campaign in Brecon and Radnorshire has been considerably quieter on the topic.
She argues that the Tories “are making a mess of Brexit” and promises that Ms Dodds will prioritise a commitment to ensuring she is working on behalf of what her constituents want – but she does not say she will push to Remain in the UK.
The candidate told she has been “very honest” and “very upfront” on the issue of the EU and insisted: “We’re not hiding our position.”
Victory would be ‘significant’ for Lib Dems
“We are the party also that says we should have a People’s Vote. And I think that actually appeals to people. Because if they are thinking: ‘Well, you know, I may have changed my mind one way or the other then I’ve got an opportunity to reflect on the last three years and say how, either, I want to leave the EU or Remain’.”
The party has, no doubt, been helped by the fact her main rival, Conservative candidate Chris Davies, was ousted by his own constituents after being convicted of expenses fraud.
Despite almost 20 per cent of locals voting for him to be chucked out of the seat in a recall petition, he was re-selected by the party as their candidate.
Although reaction to his crimes were mixed some locals told i the decision to put him forward again was “showing contempt” to members of the public.
Asked how confident she was about Thursday’s vote, Ms Dodds said: “We continue to work hard, nothing is given, it’s going to be very close.
“It’s always been a liberal or conservative constituency, for quite a few years. So it’s always going backwards and forwards. And we’re just not taking anything for granted.”
Would her victory mean the Lib Dems are back from the political dead for good?”I think it’d be a really symbolic because we would have won our first parliamentary and non-held constituency seat in a long time,” she said.
“But it would also be symbolic of a new sort of politics… the option of running a working with other groups, and other politicians. And we really want to see that happening. We want a different way of doing politics.”