Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire, will not seek re-election CHRIS MCANDREW/WIKIMEDIA

Heidi Allen has announced that she will not seek re-election as South Cambridgeshire’s MP, on the same day that parliament is due to vote on whether to call a December general election.

Her announcement comes less than 3 weeks after joining the Liberal Democrats. She had previously been an independent and part of the fledgling party Change UK after leaving the Conservatives in February.

Allen’s decision to leave Change UK in June 2019 came after its poor performance in the European Elections. She said that joining the Lib Dems would be the best way “to serve [her] constituents and county” and that she could be “stronger and more effective…[as] part of a team.”

Her decision today to stand down follows Labour’s announcement that it will back a December general election after the EU agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until 31st January 2020, reducing the threat of a no-deal Brexit. Both the Liberal Democrats and the SNP support a general election.

On Monday, the House of Commons backed the government’s election motion by 299 to 70 but fell short of the two-thirds majority of all 650 MPs needed to trigger an election under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is putting the general election motion to MPs again, this time through a one-page bill where just a majority of one is required for it to pass.

In light of these new events, Allen stated in a letter to her constituents that:

“...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.”

“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.”

Allen also cited personal reasons behind her decision: “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.”

The abuse faced by female MPs has been highlighted in recent months with Labour MP Paula Sherriff’s speech about Jo Cox and the threats she receives being dismissed as “humbug” by PM Boris Johnson.

A Financial Times analysis of more than 2 million tweets posted about that particular debate show a direct correlation between the language used in parliament and the volume of tweets directed towards MPs.

The FT report also found that female MPs were disproportionately affected by the wave of toxicity. Excluding party leaders, 45 percent of the 20 largest increases in toxic tweets were directed at women, despite their constituting only a third of all MPs.


Mountain View

Divergent views from Cambridge’s Brexit and Lib Dem candidates at Selwyn hustings

Allen stated that her decision has left her “heartbroken” but that “it is the right decision because I am no longer delivering the change that drove me into politics in the first place.”

In her letter, Allen stated that she will continue to bring together a “Remain Alliance” through the “United to Remain” initiative that she started after the European Elections.

Allen said, “I will work cross party in that endeavour with remain parties who are prepared to stand aside in the national interest.”

18.01 29 October 2019: Updated to clarify that Allen left Change UK in June 2019 and had been sitting as an independent prior to becoming a Liberal Democrat. 

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