Lib Dem MP Heidi Allen to stand down at next general election

Ex-Tory says ‘nastiness and intimidation’ she has endured behind decision to quit politics

The Liberal Democrat MP Heidi Allen will not stand at the next general election, citing the “nastiness and intimidation” she has endured as a politician as being behind her decision to quit.

The former Tory, who defected to Change UK before joining the Lib Dems on 7 October, said in a letter to her constituents in South Cambridgeshire: “I am exhausted by the invasion into my privacy and the nastiness and intimidation that has become commonplace. Nobody in any job should have to put up with threats, aggressive emails, being shouted at in the street, sworn at on social media, nor have to install panic alarms at home.

“Of course public scrutiny is to be expected, but lines are all too regularly crossed and the effect is utterly dehumanising. I have reluctantly come to the decision that I will not re-stand when the next general election comes.

“I am heartbroken, but I know it is the right decision because I am no longer delivering the change that drove me into politics in the first place.”

The 44-year-old defected to the fledgling political organisation Change UK in February alongside her fellow Tories Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. She had been a longstanding critic of austerity and other Tory welfare policies since her election in 2015 and was a vocal part of the pro-remain faction within the party.

When Change UK became an official political party she acted as leader but after failing to win any seats at the European elections, splits started to emerge over the party’s future direction. She quit in June and sat as an independent until October after months of speculation she would join the Lib Dems.

In her letter she said that until the next general election she would carry on her work with the Unite to Remain initiative she set up to help foster electoral pacts between remain parties.

She has previously said the Brecon and Radnorshire byelection result, which resulted in the Tory MP Chris Davies being ousted in favour of the Lib Dems’ Jane Dodds, was in part down to her work in brokering a pact under which the Greens and Plaid Cymru stood down.

Ending her letter, she said she hoped the next person to take over the South Cambridgeshire constituency – considered a safe Tory seat – would be a Lib Dem.


Kate Proctor Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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