By James Moules
AN ANTI-BREXIT party leader has announced that he will stand in an upcoming south-east London by-election – with the backing of London independence activists.
Richard Hewison, leader of the Rejoin EU Party, has declared his candidacy in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election, where voters are set to go to the polls on December 2, 2021.
Hewison previously finished eighth out of 20 candidates in this year’s London mayoral election, standing on a single-issue platform of the UK renewing its membership of the European Union.
[WATCH: Debate: Should the United Kingdom rejoin the European Union?]
He said: “Over the last few months, the carnage Brexit is wreaking has been seen throughout the country.
“From empty shelves in supermarkets and truck-driver shortages to sewage being dumped in the sea and childish spats with our closest neighbours, the effects are far worse than anyone suspected.
“The so-called Project Fear that Remainers were accused of peddling is fast becoming Project Reality.”
The by-election was called following the death of Conservative MP James Brokenshire in October, who had held the seat since 2010.
The constituency voted to leave the European Union in 2016 by around 63 per cent of the vote.
The Tories have historically dominated this constituency, never falling below half the vote since the 2010 General Election.
Last time out the Conservatives achieved 64.5 per cent of the vote, with Labour on second with 23.5 per cent. The latest odds for the December by-election give the Tories the best chance of winning the seat at 1/16.
This is not the first time the Rejoin EU has stood in a leave-voting seat, having previously contested the Batley and Spen by-election in July.
[READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Brendan Donnelly talks about his journey from Tory MEP to Rejoin EU candidate]
However, this time the Rejoin EU Party have the backing of another smaller party called Londependence, which calls for the capital’s independence from the rest of the UK.
Londependence Leader Tom Foster said: “We wholeheartedly back Rejoin EU in this election, particularly knowing Richard’s commitment to proper devolution for Greater London, which would so benefit everyone who lives here.
“Bexley, Sidcup and the whole of London are being levelled down by this corrupt government and neither of the major parties have an answer that will bring power back to the people.
“Rejoining the EU is by far our best option for the future and we strongly urge everyone in Old Bexley and Sidcup to get behind Rejoin EU and send parliament a message it can’t ignore.”
[READ MORE: Londependence? Meet the candidates trying to draw more autonomy to the capital]
Hewison echoed the calls for greater autonomy to London, calling for greater economic flexibility for the city in its relations with Europe.
He said: “With Northern Ireland still able to benefit from single-market access, why not London?
“It’s clear the Greater London area needs far greater autonomy in its affairs, at least on a par with Scotland, to restore its crucial trade links with the EU.”
The Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election will be held on December 2, 2021.
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