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MEP Catherine Bearder senses ‘huge opportunity’ for Liberal Democrats in KCC elections

PUBLISHED: 13:45 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:45 12 April 2017

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder

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The yellow party only currently has seven seats on KCC but key political figures are predicting a “resurgence”

A Liberal Democrat MEP has admitted she would take “great pleasure” from seeing Ukip obliterated at the polls in next month’s Kent County Council elections and senses “a huge opportunity” for her party.

Conservative MP for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay told us last week he could see an “absolute wipeout” of his former party’s seats on KCC following a string of controversies, including the defection of former Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless.

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem representative for the south east in Brussels, told Kent News her party is ready to capitalise on its opposition groups floundering, as voters prepare to take to the polls on May 4.

“I have not got a crystal ball but we are working very hard,” she said.

“Labour support is melting away like snow in spring, and Ukip has completely gone.

“People haven watched their pantomime shenanigans play out at all levels and have seen what their local councillors are like.

“So there is a huge opportunity for us, especially with the amount of people coming to us saying they didn’t vote for a hard Brexit, which is damaging businesses in Kent.

“So many of our small business’ competitors are on the mainland continent and see us outside the single market and customs union as a huge hit - we are the only party that is speaking up for them.”

Reacting to Mr Mackinlay’s claim Ukip could be totally wiped out next month, she added: “It would give me a lot of pleasure but that’s down to the voters, it’s not for me to say.

“But Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless have gone, and they’re left with Paul Nuttall who doesn’t understand the voters needs and Nigel Farage who is still taking a salary despite saying ‘as soon as we leave the EU, I will go’.”

The Lib Dems currently only have seven seats on KCC but Mr Mackinlay also told us he predicts “a slight resurgence” from the yellow party in Ukip’s place.

The group’s leader on the council, Trudy Dean, told us that fundamentally people vote on the quality of the local candidate, but that the political picture on a national scale also playes a part.

“Voting is always a combination of all sorts of things, even as little as shutting the garden gate on your way out,” Ms Bearder said.

“But this is the first election test after the referendum and we’ve got a lot of young people who couldn’t vote then but now can who are horrified with Brexit and see us as their only hope.

“In by-election results we are consistently winning while everyone else is going backwards.

“People realise we have not gone away, we’re still here, working hard.”

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