Sheffield MP Angela Smith to stand in 'key' Manchester battleground for Liberal Democrats after defecting from Labour
A Sheffield MP who defected from Labour is set to stand in Manchester for the Liberal Democrats at the next general election.
The pro-remain Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith quit the Labour Party in February to join Change UK, before switching her allegiances to the Liberal Democrats last month.
She is now planning to contest the Conservative-held seat of Altrincham and Sale West in Greater Manchester, which the Liberal Democrats have described as a ‘key Conservative battleground’.
Her new party have targeted the seat because the incumbent Graham Brady is a Brexiteer MP in a constituency where more than three fifths of voters are estimated to have backed remain in the EU referendum.
Announcing her selection, Ms Smith said: “I’m delighted to be standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Altrincham and Sale West at the next general election, whenever that comes.
“It has been an honour to serve as MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge and before that Sheffield Hillsborough. Representing local people is a huge privilege and I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years.
“During my time we’ve had many successes, but I am particularly proud to have played my part in bringing Fox Valley shopping centre to the heart of the constituency – something which has revolutionised the retail and commercial offer to the area, creating a thousand new jobs.
“My team and I will continue to be available, and my constituency work and office continues as usual. Anyone who needs my help or assistance should get in touch or come to one of my regular advice surgeries.
“I am now ready to take the fight to the Tories in Altrincham and Sale West, and finish the job to stop Brexit.”
It will come as little surprise to most people that Ms Smith is declining to contest her current seat again, given it is a pro-Brexit constituency where the Liberal Democrats finished a distant fourth behind UKIP in the 2017 general election.
The Liberal Democrats came third behind Labour in Altrincham and Sale West last time around, with just 7.7 per cent of the vote, but they are banking on a big bounce there after pledging to cancel Brexit should they win the next election.
Ms Smith’s prospective new constituency voted 61.4 per cent in favour of remaining in the EU, it has been estimated.
Announcing she was joining the Liberal Democrats last month, Ms Smith, who had been a Labour MP since 2005, called them the ‘strongest party to stop Brexit’.
The Liberal Democrat MEP Jane Brophy, who has stood for the party in Altrincham and Sale West at the last three general elections, welcomed Ms Smith’s selection.
“She is resilient, dedicated, passionately pro-European and I can’t wait to help get her elected as the newest Liberal Democrat MP in the North West,” said Ms Brophy.