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Labour’s Daniel Zeichner says his General Election campaign has been boosted by Jeremy Corbyn’s referendum pledge

Daniel Zeichner says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to hold a confirmatory referendum has given his campaign a boost.

The party’s candidate for Cambridge, who is hoping to retain his seat, told the Cambridge Independent acknowledged there was plenty of campaigning still to do but said he would “settle for a count tomorrow’.

Labour's Daniel Zeichner with his team on the campaign trail in Arbury. Picture: Richard Marsham
Labour's Daniel Zeichner with his team on the campaign trail in Arbury. Picture: Richard Marsham

But Liberal Democrat Rod Cantrill said he has had a positive response on the doorstep too.

Mr Zeichner, who has held the seat since 2015, said: “It’s interesting because it is a much stronger and more positive response than I think I envisaged because a month ago it would have been difficult for Labour.

“It all changed the weekend the story broke that [Lib Dem leader] Jo Swinson was pushing for the early election and now it’s really improved because Cambridge people are sophisticated. They get that we had [Tory Prime Minister] Boris Johnson on the ropes.

“He should not have been let off those ropes in my view because we had the numbers in Parliament for the People’s Vote which, of course, is what most people want in Cambridge.

“Who knows what will happen over the next four weeks? It is clearly volatile but I would settle for a count tomorrow.”

The race for the city seat is expected to be tight, and Mr Cantrill said people’s biggest concern is Brexit, which he suggested would benefit the Liberal Democrats due to their clear position.

He told the Cambridge Independent: “That’s the issue that defines this election. I’m on record that I want to stop Brexit and that’s an absolute must.

“I think that’s why a lot of people are attracted to us in Cambridge, because Labour’s position has not been clear.

“I had a Labour member on the doorstep who said they were going to vote for us and the reason was because Labour’s position was still not clear on Brexit; we didn’t have to be in this position as Labour could have taken a very clear position 12 months ago, we would have had the referendum.

“We’re in this position in part because of Labour’s inability to have a clear position around Brexit and ultimately, we are the strongest Remain voice in the city in terms of wanting to stop Brexit.”

He continued: “I’m a big believer in doing politics differently. I think some of the issues we have around Brexit are an illustration of where the politics of the past, this tribal politics, has in part got us into this position and I think we definitely need to do politics in a different kind of way, do politics in a positive way, with a positive proposition to the electorate.”

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Cambridge, Rod Cantrill. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Cambridge, Rod Cantrill. Picture: Keith Heppell

But Mr Zeichner said Brexit is not the only issue people are raising to him on the doorstep.

“It’s a mix,” he said. “Climate is coming up a lot. Johnson barely gets a mention. I think I have come across one person who said something positive about him, it’s pretty clear he is not popular in Cambridge. Public services came up a bit and a bit around policing and security. It depends which part of the city you are in.

“I suspect as the campaign goes on, they will come up more but Brexit is coming up quite a lot as you would expect.

“I have never seen the vote so volatile in that people are clearly open to hearing the conversation. I think the big game changer for me was [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn committing to a People’s Vote because that’s what people want.

“Of course the Lib Dem alternative is Jo Swinson bravely saying she is going to be Prime Minister. You have got to be a real believer to think you can go from 12 to 326 seats, so if it’s remain you want, I’m very confident I can make the case with absolute clarity that the only way we are going to get it is if Labour become the largest party. And if Labour doesn’t win Cambridge, Labour is not going to be the largest party and Brexit will happen.”

He added: “The road to remain is through a People’s Vote. I think people understand why Labour won’t take a 100 per cent remain position because in that case, remain loses.”

Mr Cantrill added: “One of the problems we have had in the past three years is that we’ve been stuck in this Brexit vortex, which has sucked all the resources, all the political willpower into this one issue, and the reality is we’ve got a number of big issues we have to address as a country: climate change, the climate crisis, issues around funding our public services – the NHS and schools – we’ve got the issues specifically to Cambridge, which is building a fairer city and ensure that at the end of the day everybody can afford to live here.

“Those are issues that haven’t gone away, but Brexit has sucked all that political effort into the one issue.”

The full list of candidates for Cambridge is:

  • Jeremy Caddick - Green Party
  • Rod Cantrill - Liberal Democrat
  • Peter Dawe - The Brexit Party
  • Keith Garrett - Rebooting Democracy
  • Miles Hurley - Independent
  • Russell Perrin - Conservatives
  • Jane Robins - Social Democratic Party
  • Daniel Zeichner - Labour

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