Liberal Democrats stand aside for Greens in Bury St Edmunds in 2019 General Election

Helen Geake (right) with Green Party co-leader Sian Berry. Ms Geake will not be facing a Liberal Dem

Helen Geake (right) with Green Party co-leader Sian Berry. Ms Geake will not be facing a Liberal Democrat as she bids to win Bury St Edmunds. Picture: JOHN MATTHISSEN - Credit: Archant

The Liberal Democrats will not fight the Bury St Edmunds constituency in December’s General Election – standing down as part of a “Remain Alliance” with the Greens.

Jo Churchill is defending her Bury seat in the General Election. PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT

Jo Churchill is defending her Bury seat in the General Election. PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

However an attempt at a deal on the other side of the county is understood to have failed after the parties could not agree a deal in Suffolk Coastal.

The Liberal Democrats, Greens, and Plaid Cymru announced a list of 60 constituencies where one or more parties will stand aside in favour of other candidates.

In Bury the Liberal Democrats are standing aside in favour of Green candidate Helen Geake, in return for the Greens not standing in Chelmsford which is a key LibDem target seat.

There have been talks between the Greens and Liberal Democrats in east Suffolk - and some believe there is still a slim chance of a deal there before nominations close next Friday.

But a deal for the Liberal Democrats to fight Suffolk Coastal and the Greens to contest Waveney has not yet been agreed - and party officials from both sides now concede it is unlikely that any pact will be agreed.

It is understood that the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk Coastal, where Jules Ewart has been the candidate since the end of last year, and the Green Party in Waveney which has selected Beccles county councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw to stand were both keen on a pact.

Most Read

However national negotiators were unable to agree to a deal - and this week former Bury St Edmunds Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Korfanty was switched to the Waveney seat.

The Green Party has done well in local elections in the Bury St Edmunds over recent years - in May its candidates won several seats on Mid Suffolk council in the constituency and it has also held seats in the town itself.

Ms Geake said: "Leaving the EU would be deeply damaging for both our economy and our environment. Greens are willing to work with other parties for the common good, and this is the right thing to do for people in this constituency."

Although she would be seeking votes from everyone keen to see the country remain in the EU, Ms Geake said her Green Party beliefs were important: "As well as being the Remain candidate for the area, I will take the bold action on climate chaos that's urgently needed, and continue to hold the other parties to account on environmental policy."

However Conservative Jo Churchill, who is defending the Bury seat, said: "There are major differences between the Liberal Democrats and Greens on many issues - especially on defence.

"I will welcome the votes of Liberal Democrats who want to support our armed forces and the democratic will of the majority of people in this seat who voted to leave the EU."

She said the message she was getting from constituents she was speaking to in the area was that they wanted to see the Withdrawal Agreement passed and for the country to move on from the Brexit debate.

In 2017 Mrs Churchill had a majority of 18,441 over Labour in Bury St Edmunds. The combined vote of the Liberal Democrats and Greens was 6,161.

The Bury deal is a balance to an agreement by the Green Party not to contest Chelmsford in Essex which is one of the Liberal Democrats' main targets in this election.

In May the party caused a major surprise by taking control of Chelmsford City Council - and polling suggests that they could repeat that in the General Election, prompting both their party and the Conservatives to put a great deal of effort into winning the seat.