While Stewart supports departing the EU under the terms of the deal secured by Theresa May, Liberal Democrats have been concerned about blocking a no-deal Brexit to consider pacts with MPs that don’t share their ultra-pro EU stance.
The Times reported that senior Liberal Democrats are in talks with several now-former Conservative MPs expelled from the party ranks by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who backed emergency legislation to block a no-deal Brexit, with an eye to potentially forming a ‘non-aggression’ pact in an ensuing General Election.
Downing Street has made clear there is “no way back” for the rebels, and six of the 21 expelled have announced their intention to stand down at the next election. Several have indicated a desire to stand as independents however, while others have mooted the idea of forming a new informal political grouping, under the label ‘Independent’ or ‘Liberal’ Conservatives.
Whether such a faction comes to pass, it’s been reported former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is helping to broker a deal between Rory Stewart, an expelled Conservative, and the party’s new leader Jo Swinson, under which Stewart – whose constituency neighbours Swinson’s – would stand as an independent MP at the next general election but vote in line with the Liberal Democrats on certain votes in exchange for the party not fielding a candidate against him. The Green Party is also said to be willing to stand aside in Stewart’s Penrith seat.