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Heidi Allen won’t stand in General Election after experiencing ‘nastiness and intimidation’



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Heidi Allen, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, will not stand for re-election after suffering abuse and intimidation.

In a letter to constituents, Ms Allen, who joined the Liberal Democrats in early October, says: “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.”

Heidi Allen opening the Allyance Mental Health Conference at the Fisher Building, St John's College in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Heidi Allen opening the Allyance Mental Health Conference at the Fisher Building, St John's College in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

She also expresses frustration with the “Brexit impasse” and how it led Parliament into a “purgatory” where MPs have “changed almost nothing and improved almost nothing”.

Ms Allen says she is “heartbroken” by the decision but knows it is “the right decision”.

She was elected as a Conservative MP in 2015 and re-elected in 2017.

Angered by the Tories’ approach to Brexit and the move away from one-nation approach, she joined a growing band of independents in Parliament in February, before becoming interim leader of Change UK.

In June, she left to return to the benches as an independent, saying that Change UK had “put party interests above the country’s during the European elections in May”.

Announcing her move to the Liberal Democrats on October 7, she said: “Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that the best way to serve my constituents and country, is to join the Liberal Democrats.”

Ian Sollom will stand for election for the Liberal Democrats in South Cambridgeshire, having previously moved aside to make way for Ms Allen in the constituency.

He said: “Heidi has worked tirelessly to represent the interests of the people of South Cambs and this has clearly been a really difficult decision.

“Her journey to the Liberal Democrats is one many constituents have taken in recent years thanks to the incredible efforts of Lib Dem activists and campaigners in South Cambs and I know they are ready for the coming election.

“It’s an immense privilege to be leading that team again and I’m looking forward to making the case to stop Brexit and winning in South Cambs.”

MPs are due to vote today (Tuesday) on holding a General Election in December. It now looks likely to happen, after Labour came out in support of an early election.

Mark Lunn, the chair of the local Liberal Democrat party, said: “It has been a privilege to work with Heidi stopping Brexit and to support her campaigns on social issues like the impact of Universal Credit. Heidi has been a fantastic MP and I am very sad that she cannot continue.

“It is a terrible indictment of the current political atmosphere that a decent person like Heidi cannot engage in open and honest debate about the future of our county without suffering abuse and threats which drive her out. This is an attack on our democracy which must be resisted.”

The full text of Heidi Allen’s letter to constituents

Heidi Allen
Heidi Allen

When I became your Member of Parliament in May 2015, I could not have been more proud. Since then, I have worked hard every day, listened to your concerns, worked with others to fix problems, celebrated our area’s incredible achievements and represented you to the best of my ability in Parliament. I have loved being your Member of Parliament.

The children in our schools have energised me with their questions when I have visited them, their teachers humbled me with their passion and determination to develop the next generation, despite unacceptable funding pressures. I have seen our healthcare professionals care day in day out for our ever-growing population and our public sector workers make every pound count as they deliver the highest standards for local communities. I will never forget the shifts I spent with our police, ambulance and fire services; my gratitude for allowing me a window into their world of bravery and courage. The brains of South Cambridgeshire have tested my grey cells with their ground-breaking science and academic research. I have tried to keep up!

But for the last eighteen months or so, the Brexit impasse has made business as usual impossible. Brexit has broken our politics and it is my firm belief that only a confirmatory public vote will bring an end to this sorry chapter and bring healing and light at the end of the tunnel. Without it, we will continue to see the Conservative and Labour parties going round and round in circles, putting themselves ahead of the national interest.

And while Parliament has been in purgatory, we have legislated for almost nothing, changed almost nothing and improved almost nothing. I became an MP because I wanted to make a difference, but while Brexit continues to captivate Parliament, that just hasn’t been possible. The reports I help to create as a member of the DWP select committee fail to arouse the attention of Government, debates about industrial productivity or funding our health service and social care don’t happen and the system has ground to a halt.

I have been your representative for four and a half years. During that time, we have had an unprecedented two general elections, a referendum and unbelievably a third general election is now on the near horizon.

Heidi Allen at Girton Glebe School. Picture: Keith Heppell
Heidi Allen at Girton Glebe School. Picture: Keith Heppell

But more than all of that, 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. In my very first election leaflet I remember writing “I will always be a person first and a politician second” - I want to stay that way.

So, 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. I am proud of the significant improvements to Universal Credit I achieved, that I helped secure the passage of more unaccompanied refugee children from Europe and proud to have played my part in abortion reform in Northern Ireland. I am especially proud of my team who have supported me throughout. They have provided an exemplary service to my constituents.

And ahead of the next General Election, I will conclude the important work of bringing together a remain alliance through the “Unite to Remain” initiative I started after the European Elections. To change the trajectory of our country, I believe it is vital that both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are denied a majority. I will work cross party in that endeavour with remain parties who are prepared to stand aside in the national interest.

In the meantime and until the final day, I will continue to work hard to represent you. But when the election comes, I will pass the baton on and dearly hope it will be to a new Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.

To every constituent, whether you voted for me or not, thank you for giving me the greatest privilege of my life – to serve as your Member of Parliament.

Read more

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South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen: ‘I left Change UK because it put party above country’

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