Sheffield MP Angela Smith joins Liberal Democrats - but will old tweets come back to haunt her?
Sheffield MP Angela Smith has joined the Liberal Democrats, calling them the ‘strongest party to stop Brexit’.
The Penistone and Stocksbridge MP had defected from Labour in February to join Change UK, or The Independent Group as it was then known, only to walk out on them four months later in June after their dismal showing in the European elections to become an independent.
She is the third MP to join the Liberal Democrats in the past week, following in the footsteps of Luciana Berger, also a former Labour and Change UK member; and Phillip Lee, who sensationally quit the Conservatives and crossed the house as Boris Johnson addressed parliament.
Announcing her latest move, which swells the party’s ranks in the Commons to 17, Ms Smith said: “We need a more inclusive, tolerant politics for our country that values diversity. The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party to stop Brexit and build a society that gives opportunities to everyone, tackle the climate crisis and invest in our public services.
“We are facing a national crisis and people deserve better than the choice of the old two parties. I am relishing continuing my work with the Liberal Democrats to not only fight against Brexit but to also campaign for the constitutional reform needed to mend our broken politics.”
Ms Smith had been a Labour MP since 2005 and held her seat at the 2017 General Election with a 1,322 majority over the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats finished a distant fourth behind UKIP that year and registered just 2,042 votes, which was too few for its candidate Penny Baker to keep her deposit.
It didn’t take long after her announcement for potentially embarrassing old tweets to resurface.
In May 2011, she tweeted: “It should be remembered that in Sheff we have two types of Tories; blue ones and yellow ones; the latter rely on the former to get elected.”
And in a tweet from October that year, she said: “LibDems put out leaflet in north Sheffield printed using 100% blue ink; at least they're honest about what they are now #Toriesinallbutname.”
However, it seems all is forgiven, with Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson welcoming her into the fold.
Ms Swinson said: “In February, Angela made the brave decision to leave the Labour Party after over 40 years of membership, because of the mishandling of anti-Semitism claims and Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit.
“Now, she follows Chuka Umunna, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Dr Phillip Lee and Luciana Berger in joining the Liberal Democrats’ rapidly growing Parliamentary team.
“We welcome Angela’s commitment to stopping Brexit, and to building a fairer, more liberal society.
“The Liberal Democrats have always been an inclusive party, and our doors are open to anyone who shares our liberal values, and our commitment to a fair, free and open society.”
Penistone West Labour Party responded to the news by posting on its Facebook page: “Pro-fracking local MP Angela Smith changes her party membership yet again – still without calling a by-election.”