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Lib Dem leader offers Labour MPs fearing deselection a political home

Published 14/09/2016

File picture of the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron.
File picture of the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has rolled out a welcome mat for Labour MPs fearing deselection for their opposition to Jeremy Corbyn.

And Mr Farron said he could not see himself ever taking the Lib Dems into coalition with Labour under Mr Corbyn, who he accused of letting the Conservatives off the hook with his "shambolic" leadership.

Speculation over deselections was fuelled by proposals unveiled on Tuesday of parliamentary boundary changes which could abolish the constituencies of leading Labour moderates including leadership contender Owen Smith and former frontbenchers Yvette Cooper, Rachel Reeves, Chuka Umunna and Tristam Hunt.

Since assuming the leadership of the Lib Dems in 2015, Mr Farron has regularly predicted a "realignment" of political forces in the UK.

In an interview ahead of the Liberal Democrats' annual conference - being held in Brighton under the theme of an "open, tolerant, united Britain" - he told the Evening Standard: "It's not for me to go out and be a home-wrecker but perhaps to create a home for people who are liberals, progressives, who think winning elections is not a dirty business but is about making sure the Tories do not have a majority for, potentially, the next quarter of a century.

"I don't want to park my tanks on Labour's lawn. I want to park my tanks on the Tory lawn, which is where Labour's tanks ought to be."

On the question of what the Lib Dems' stance towards any potential Labour defectors might be, Mr Farron said: "We'd want those people to be very much part of our future."

Mr Farron accused Labour's current leadership of being "more content with feeling good about themselves than doing good".

And asked if he could ever go into coalition with Mr Corbyn, he replied: "Could I see myself doing it? I can't."

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