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Former Brexit candidate stands as Independent

Saturday, November 16th, 2019 8:22am

By Ed Oldfield, Local Democracy Reporting Service

It's after Nigel Farage said his candidates will not challenge sitting Tory MPs

The former Brexit Party candidate for Torbay has defied instructions to quit and will fight the General Election as an Independent.

James Channer, who runs a specialist recruitment company for legal professionals, has decided to stand at the vote in December.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has said his candidates will not challenge sitting Conservative MPs.

That includes Kevin Foster in Torbay, a Tory government minister who has held the seat since winning it from the Liberal Democrats in 2015.

There have been concerns from Conservatives that the Brexit Party could split the pro-Brexit vote.

Torbay voted by around six to four in favour of leaving the EU at the Referendum in 2016.

Mr Channer will be standing as in Independent rather than under the Brexit Party banner, on a platform of support for the UK leaving the European Union.

His backers include Eddie Davis, the Brexit Party candidate in a by-election for a seat on Torbay Council in the Goodrington with Roselands ward on Paignton.

Mr Davis came third behind Tory Jane Barnby who returns to the council after beating the Liberal Democrats to win back the seat.

Commenting on the result of Thursday’s by-election, Mr Channer said Nigel Farage’s withdrawal of candidates had affected the Brexit Party campaign in Torbay.

He said in a post on the social media platform Twitter: “Nigel Farage’s comments on Monday clearly had an impact on Eddie Davis’ campaign; Many voters felt the Brexit Party had left and hence a big Tory win – well done Jane. People are fed up of Brexit as well. The Remain Camp’s strategy is working; grinding people down. No Leave vote.”

He added in another tweet: “From the last few days knocking on doors, Brexit Party Supporters made it very clear they would either not vote at all or vote Tory because they had no choice given Nigel’s new position.”

The turnout at Thursday’s by-election was 28 per cent, lower than the 38 per cent in May. The General Election turnout in Torbay in 2017 was 67 per cent.

Ms Barnby said she felt support had risen for the Conservatives since Boris Johnson took over from Theresa May as prime minister.

She said voters, especially older people, were refusing to go out to vote in the cold and dark.

Liberal Democrat General Election candidate Lee Howgate said the Brexit Party was “running scared” of the Liberal Democrats, who were the strongest Remain party in areas like Torbay and the only one able to take seats like Torbay from the Conservatives.

He said: “Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and the Brexit party are now one and the same.

“Both want to see an extreme Brexit that will damage our local economy, public services and limit opportunities for our children and grandchildren.”

Mr Howgate said Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would lead to to the break-up of the UK.

He added: “No-one voted to be poorer nor to break up the UK but those are the likely outcomes of the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Deal.

“Only the Lib Dems can keep our country together and avoid a Trump-style Brexit.”

The other candidates in Torbay are Michelle Middleditch for Labour and Sam Moss for the Green Party.

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