Democracy campaigner Gina Miller has issued an appeal to Keir Starmer and Ed Davey to stand down their candidates in a leading Tory’s seat at the next general election to give her a better chance of unseating him.
Ms Miller is planning to fight the constituency of Epsom & Ewell in Surrey in the election expected in 2024 as a candidate for the True and Fair Party (TFP), which she founded last year and now leads.
As one of up to 30 TFP candidates, she hopes to oust former transport secretary Chris Grayling, who has held the seat for the Conservatives since 2001 and enjoyed a comfortable majority of 17,873 in 2019.
The announcement of her candidacy last month sparked warnings from Labour and Liberal Democrat activists that she would simply split the anti-Tory vote, making Mr Grayling likely to hold on to the seat.
But in a letter seen by The Independent, Ms Miller – who defeated the government in court over Brexit and Boris Johnson’s illegal prorogation of parliament – told Mr Starmer and Mr Davey that the TFP had deliberately chosen to fight seats where neither of their parties stood a realistic chance of success in 2024.
“Although we are politically distinct from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, we are not looking to split the vote in Conservative-held seats that your parties can realistically win,” she said.
“Rather, our independently minded candidates will stand in constituencies where Labour and the Liberal Democrats stand little to no chance of winning, offering voters a fresh alternative to the Conservatives.”
Grayling’s “shocking record”, including the botched privatisation of the probation service, railway timetable chaos and a Brexit ferry contract for a firm with no boats, made him “the walking, talking epitome of this uncaring, failed Conservative administration”, she said.
But despite this, neither Labour nor the Lib Dems have managed to get “anywhere close to defeating him in six elections over 21 years”, said Ms Miller.
“His majority is nearly 18,000 over the Lib Dems, while Labour was 21,593 behind in 2019,” she wrote.
“Both parties have enjoyed enough opportunities to unseat Mr Grayling. What is of utmost importance is that he is defeated at the next general election. He must not be allowed to cause any further damage from Westminster.
“The most logical way to defeat Mr Grayling is for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to stand aside, allowing one candidate a straight run at the seat. This is my request today.”
Ms Miller said that, as a new party with a mission to clean up the political system, TFP had the ability to “cut through to Conservative-leaning voters who are fed up with years of corrupt governance in a way that mainstream parties cannot”.
In traditionally true blue seats such as Epsom & Ewell, she said, her slate of candidates from outside the Westminster bubble could make a convincing case to constituents who would never vote for Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
Ms Miller is also urging the Green Party not to contest the constituency, where it has put up a candidate against Mr Grayling in three recent elections.