CANTERBURY, England (Reuters) – Caroline Hegey and Emma Kelland both want to stop Brexit but will back different parties in the medieval city of Canterbury when they vote in Britain’s election next week.
Rosie Duffield, the Labour Party candidate for Canterbury, and Emily Thornberry, Labour candidate for Islington South and Shadow Foreign Secretary, meet activists at a rally in Canterbury, Britain December 1, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Hegey, a 64-year-old health service administrator, will back the left-wing Labour Party, which wants a second referendum on Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Kelland, a 42-year-old shop worker, will support the centrist Liberal Democrats who want Brexit cancelled.
The decision by the two big opposition parties to run against each other in Canterbury, rather than field a single candidate, makes it more likely the candidate for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives will be elected on Dec. 12.
It is a scenario that could be repeated in dozens of voting districts, known as constituencies, across the country, increasing Johnson’s chances of gaining a majority in parliament and winning its approval for a deal on leaving the EU.
By contrast, the newly created Brexit Party has agreed not to run against Conservatives in about half the constituencies, including Canterbury, to avoid watering down the pro-Brexit vote.
“This election could be decided by very fine margins and I am worried that we are spending time attacking each other when our positions on Brexit are very similar,” Hegey said in Canterbury, close to Britain’s southeastern tip.
She regards a vote for the Liberal Democrats, a much smaller parliamentary force than Labour, as a wasted vote.
But Kelland says she cannot vote for Labour, Britain’s main opposition party,