Former Conservative home secretary Amber Rudd is going against the Tories and backing an independent former cabinet colleague to retain his seat in Hertfordshire.
Ms Rudd, who resigned from the cabinet and lost the Tory whip over opposition to a no-deal Brexit in September, has put her support behind fellow former Conservative David Gauke.
Mr Gauke, who was justice secretary as recently as July, is running as an independent in South West Hertfordshire – a seat he has held since 2005.
He is up against Conservative candidate Gagan Mohindra.
The constituency has been won by the Tories in every election, with Mr Gauke taking 58% of the vote in the 2017 ballot.
Ms Rudd, who stepped down as MP for Hastings and Rye when the election was called, was campaigning with Mr Gauke in Rickmansworth on Monday.
“I’m a Conservative. David is a liberal Conservative. I believe in what he stands for,” she told the PA news agency.
“It would be great for this country if he returns as an MP.”
The pair met locals in Rickmansworth’s High Street before door-knocking around the area.
Mr Gauke had previously warned that the UK will be heading for a no-deal Brexit if Boris Johnson wins an overall majority on December 12 – with “disastrous” consequences for the economy.
He suggested Conservative supporters opposed to no-deal should consider “lending” their votes to the Liberal Democrats.
On Monday, Mr Gauke was approached by a resident who said they were disappointed about his decision to leave the Tories.
Val Pooley told Mr Gauke he was going against the people who voted to leave the EU.
“I am sorry but I’m cross that you’ve switched out of Conservative because I believe, as Conservatives, we wanted out. That’s what we voted for and you’re going against the people’s vote,” she said.
Ms Pooley, who lives in Maple Cross, said she wasn’t sure who to vote for in the area now.
“I don’t know whether we have a Conservative option in this area that I am able to vote for,” she told the PA news agency.
“He’s very much disappointed the electorate for switching. You can’t flip-flop and expect everyone to still vote for you.”
Good to see Janet and Poppy in Rickmansworth High Street yesterday. pic.twitter.com/il0uFfEVpY— David Gauke (@DavidGauke) November 17, 2019
Another resident, Jasim Ahmed, was more forgiving.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” he told the PA news agency. “He’s still the right person for the area.”
Mr Gauke was one of 21 MPs kicked out of the party in September after they backed a plan to take control of the Commons timetable to pass legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.
He told the PA news agency he understands some voters are not pleased about his decision to run as an independent but said he had been getting positive responses from most of those he met in the constituency.
“There are lots of people coming forward… these are people who feel a bit homeless and welcome the opportunity to vote independent,” he said.
“The response so far has been much more positive than I expected.”