Lib Dem switches allegiance to stand for new party for Yorkshire

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THE husband of former Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis has defected and will stand for a new party at the forthcoming European elections campaigning for a Parliament for Yorkshire.

Stewart Arnold, who two years ago became embroiled in a nepotism row over plans to succeed his wife as one of Yorkshire’s MEPs when she stood down through ill-health, is one of three candidates standing for the Yorkshire First party on May 22.

Mr Arnold, who ultimately did not take up his wife’s seat, said he let his membership of the Liberal Democrats lapse at the end of 2012 and is now following-up his long-term belief that Yorkshire should have its own elected body to better represent the region’s interests.

“The thing that has driven me for 12 to 15 years has been devolution and spreading power away from London and the South-East to other parts of the country, especially Yorkshire,” he said.

Mr Arnold said he had become disillusioned with the Lib Dems’ approach to devolved power and the decision of Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable to press ahead with plans to abolish Yorkshire Forward along with other northern regional development agencies.

He added: “Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, you have to make the case, and the best way to do that is outside mainstream political politics.”

Mr Arnold said Yorkshire First hopes to win one of the six seats available to the Yorkshire region at the European elections.

Depending on the level of success, the party will then consider fielding candidates at forthcoming local and national elections.