Liberal Democrat veteran Vince Cable began campaigning to win his way back to parliament with a speech focussed on Brexit at Twickenham Green on Friday.
Addressing a rally of supporters outside Twickenham’s cricket pavilion, the former cabinet minister spoke out against a hard Brexit’s impact on the constituency’s economy and businesses.
The past 18-year-serving Twickenham MP hopes to regain votes after he lost to Conservative MP Tania Mathias in the 2015 election.
That election saw several Lib Dem heavyweights ousted, leaving only eight former coalition partners in parliament.
Mr Cable said: “The message is to know that I’m back and I think I’ve got a pretty good record here in terms of working for the local community.
“I think I’ve had 10,000 constituents come to me over the years for help and I’ve done my best for them.”
In a constituency where almost 70% of voters opted to remain in the European Union, the Liberal Democrat candidate said he would reflect the unhappiness of many of the people in the area on Brexit, which could hit local institutions like Kingston University and scientific research centres.
The Liberal Democrats are focussing their campaign around a pro-Europe message and are calling for another referendum for Britons to decide on the final deal reached during the negotiations.
Twickenham resident Jane Weake said: “The Lib Dems are the only major party actually supporting remainers and so I think it’s very important people rally around them.
“I think we all want to show there’s a strong movement to make sure that Vince gets back again.”
Membership for the party has climbed to its highest in two decades with almost 100,000 members, making a comeback since its support plummeted from entering a Conservative coalition government in 2010.
Lib Dem Councillor Jonathan Cardy said: “There’s a level of enthusiasm which I can’t remember coming across before at the start of an election.
“I’m quietly confident.”
While Brexit dominates the election debate, Mr Cable said it was not just about that single issue, but concerns of devastating cuts to education in the constituency, the breakdown in social care and the government’s U-turn policy on the Heathrow expansion.
Dr Mathias is standing for re-election while other party candidates are yet to be announced.