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Cable optimistic on retaking Twickenham as campaigning enters its final phases

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Twickenham, Sir Vince Cable, resumed normal campaigning yesterday after the London Bridge attack put the election on hold.

The terrorist attack that killed seven and injured 48 on Saturday night meant candidates and volunteers once again ceased door-knocking out of respect for those affected.

In a change of schedule, Sir Vince retreated from the spotlight over the weekend to a constituency office on Whitton High Street.

He said: “It’s awful. I think deep down everyone assumed that they’d make another attempt before the elections – they’re trying to disrupt what people do. It just reveals how vulnerable we are.”

On calls to suspend the election, he said: “What does that achieve? It just means that the terrorists have won.”

The former Business Secretary is hoping to be re-elected as MP for Twickenham after being defeated by Conservative Tania Mathias in 2015, with polls predicting a tight finish.

Sir Vince said his plans for Twickenham are forward looking, with an agenda of opposing school cuts, and promoting further education, carers, the future of hospitals and support for small businesses.

Commenting on the campaign before the London Bridge attack, he said: “We’re not making any predictions, but certainly there was a very good momentum and a very good chance of winning.

“I obviously can’t be objective about it, but I think the bookies have been giving fairly good odds.

“I’m cautiously optimistic.”

The Greens have endorsed Sir Vince in this election, stating: “Liberal Democrats and Greens hold similar views on stopping ‘blank cheque’ Brexit, and Heathrow Expansion.

“We both support Proportional Representation, which is vital for a fairer and healthier democracy.

“Both Greens and Liberal Democrats are worried that the Conservatives will scrap environmental protections and the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”

On the progressive alliance and tactical voting, Sir Vince said: “We have made it very clear and the Green Party has made it very clear that it wasn’t just a tactical thing, it’s about common values.

He added: “comprehensive reform of the voting system in a more proportional way is something we and the Greens agree on.

“The voting system is rotten.”

Sir Vince also added that Donald Trump’s ‘appalling sabotage to the climate change process’ has highlighted the importance of working together with the Greens in order to protect the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

As to whether the Liberal Democrat’s anti-Brexit stance has garnered support in the Twickenham constituency, where the majority voted to remain, Sir Vince said: “It was the pretext for calling the election, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. People realise there are other big issues – school cuts, health, dementia.

“There is a slight feeling that the government are using the mandate for Brexit as a camouflage for other things, but actually the debate has moved away from Brexit.

“I’m not sure the net effect has been very substantial, it has probably helped us a bit, but the reason why people are more motivated than they were two years ago is they’ve had two years of a Conservative government as opposed to coalition government.

“I think people are much more worried about standard issues of the Conservative party policy than they were before.

“But with Brexit, when things start to go wrong, as I fear they will go wrong, at least people  will remember that the Lib Dems were actually in the right.

“I think what is happening is that there is a danger of the whole of what you might call the middle ground of British politics being blown away where other euro-Tories and liberal Tories have all vanished, the moderates of the Labour Party have been marginalised and Corbyn’s relatively good performance has put them back in the shade – so where is the force of moderation that millions of people want?”

Political observers have suggested that Sir Vince could be front runner to replace Tim Farron if he loses his seat on June 8, but Sir Vince said: “I’ve always very firmly rebutted this suggestion.

“I doubt he will lose his seat, and although he is being rather attacked, he did a very good job in rebuilding the morale of the party from when we had that terrible election two years ago.”

 

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