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Dr Sarah Wollaston moves to the Lib Dems

Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Commitee, has now joined the Liberal Democrats, making it the third political party she’s been part of this year. 

Dr Wollaston, who spent over a decade as a GP, trainer and RCGP examiner, credited healthcare as a reason behind the move. In an open letter to constituents, she said: ‘As a doctor for over 24 years, I try to base my decisions on evidence, and as that emerges, to be open to changing course.

‘As the economic facts unfolded, I found myself unable to support a version of Brexit with consequences that I know would hurt so many individuals, businesses, families and communities’.

She also referenced the ‘careful thought’ that had gone into deciding to represent Totnes, Devon as a Liberal Democrat, and described Brexit as sucking the ‘all the political oxygen from Government’.

Initially a Conservative, Dr Wollaston quit the majority party in February, over Brexit. Having originally supported efforts to leave the EU, she changed her mind and also cited her experiences working in the NHS in her resignation letter on this occasion. 

During her time as a Tory, Dr Wollaston urged then-Prime Minister Theresa May to apologise to GPs for scapegoating them for the A&E crisis.

However, she later gained a place among the eleven MPs who united from various parties to form Change UK, previously known as The Independent Group. But Dr Wollaston rescinded her membership after just four months. 

Jo Swinson, who took over as Liberal Democrats leader last month, applauded the news, stating on social media: ‘Delighted to welcome Sarah Wollaston to the Liberal Democrats! She is a fantastic MP, a great person to work with and a huge asset to the team. Can’t wait to continue to fight to stop Brexit and build a fairer society with an economy that works for people and the planet.’

The sentiment was echoed by Chuka Umunna, who, like Dr Wollaston, swapped from Change UK to the Liberal Democrats this year. He commented: ‘Sarah joining us is a huge issue… She is widely respected in the House of Commons and throughout the country’.