Former Rochdale Conservative candidate defects to Lib Dems

June 2, 2017 2:57 PM

A rising star in the Conservative Party has defected to the Liberal Democrats. Azi Ahmed, who stood for the Conservative Party at the last election, introduced Vince Cable who gave a speech on the economy and Brexit in London today.

Azi becomes the second Rochdale Conservative candidate to join the Liberal Democrats. Robert McLean, who should have been the Conservative Candidate this General Election joined the Liberal Democrats in January.

Azi grew up in Oldham and served in the Territorial Army, contesting Rochdale for the Conservatives in the 2015 general election. She was deputy chairman of the London Conservative Women's Organisation. She decided to join the Liberal Democrats recently after meeting party leader Tim Farron.

Andy Kelly, Liberal Democrat candidate for next week's election said: "To lose one Parliamentary Candidate to us is bad. To lose two is a disaster. Azi will be an excellent addition to our ranks. It's clear that next week we have a choice here. Change with me and the Liberal Democrats or more of the same with Labour.

"Conservatives haven't won on General Election Day since 1951. We now have the 2 most senior Conservatives in our town backing my campaign for change. Every Conservative voter knows it's a wasted vote in Rochdale. They don't need 2 former senior Conservatives to tell them that."

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said: "No wonder sensible, talented Rochdale Conservatives such as Azi are questioning how they could possibly have a future in a Conservative Party hell bent on an extreme Brexit that will wreck the future for you, your family, your schools and hospitals.

"Theresa May didn't have to go for an extreme Brexit - that was her choice, and decent Conservatives such as Azi can no longer stomach it."

Azi Ahmed said: "I stood as a parliamentary candidate in Rochdale for the Conservatives in the 2015 general election, and was proud to introduce Defence Secretary Michael Fallon at last year's party conference. but I have left the party to join the Liberal Democrats because I can no longer campaign for a party which has hardened its line on Brexit.

"I believe Theresa May's approach is completely wrong and the Conservatives are making a terrible mistake; our country is going to pay the price.

"I voted Remain and thought there was still a place in the Conservative Party for people like me, but the way they are fighting this election has made me realise I cannot support a policy which goes against the national interest. A hard Brexit is a car crash waiting to happen.

"The Liberal Democrats are the only serious alternative to the Conservatives; their vision for the future of our country is more attractive and inclusive than that of any other party. Tim Farron has articulated a clear, consistent position on Brexit in contrast to the confusion that surrounds Labour's policy.

"One of the greatest challenges we have as a society is making sure younger voters are engaged with politics and don't feel disenfranchised. Brexit was rejected by 75% of 18-24 year-olds in last year's referendum and one of our priorities should be to find a way of involving this generation in the political process. I believe the Liberal Democrats are best placed to do this."