GP parliamentary candidate Dr Louise Irvine has received support from the local Liberal Democrats party in her bid to defeat the health secretary in tomorrow’s general election.
Jeremy Hunt remains strong favourite to hold his South West Surrey seat, but Dr Irvine – standing for the National Health Action Party – is now second favourite, and way ahead of the Labour candidate.
Dr Irvine’s chances have been boosted by the suspension of the local Liberal Democrat Patrick Haveron from his party, while he faces a police investigation in relation to electoral fraud claims.
She said local Liberal Democrat candidates are now unofficially urging supporters to vote for Dr Irvine instead, as any vote for Mr Haveron will be void.
Dr Irvine, who chaired the successful ‘Save Lewisham Hospital’ campaign, which overturned the decision to close the local A&E, said: ‘The suspension of Patrick Haveron means I am now the only candidate able to beat Jeremy Hunt.’
She said the election has become a ‘straight choice’ for voters, between ‘more austerity, more NHS cuts and chaos’ or a ‘party that knows how to fund and fix the NHS’.
Dr Irvine added: ‘Since the Liberal Democrats announced they no longer recognise Patrick Haveron’s candidacy, I have been receiving support from their members. I would urge all Liberal Democrats, and all voters in this constituency who care about the future of our NHS and the future of our country, to back me on 7 May.’
Although the party was unable to make an official endorsement, the treasurer of the South West Surrey Liberal Democrats Chris Hyland said: ‘I would urge Lib Dem supporters to vote for Dr Louise Irvine of the National Health Action Party. I’ve seen Louise in action at local hustings and have been really impressed by her and what she stands for. She has the best chance of defeating the sitting MP, Jeremy Hunt. Given there is now no chance of a Lib Dem winning this seat, I’d want her as my MP.’
The Liberal Democrat Party said in a statement that Mr Havering ‘has been suspended by the party pending the outcome of investigations into his nominations papers for the Waverley Borough Council election’.
It said it could not comment further as it understands ‘this is now a police matter’.
Dr Irvine was voted number 28 in Pulse’s Power 50 list of the UK’s most influential GPs in 2014 and has previously stood as a National Health Action Party candidate for the European parliament, winning 23,000 votes.