Nick Perry is in an upbeat mood and it wasn’t just the fine weather in Alexandra Park when we met today that was cheering him up writes Stuart Bailie.
Perry has endured some tough times as a Liberal Democrat and his three bids to become the Liberal Democrat MP for Hastings and Rye have come at a time when his party’s fortunes have not been in the ascendency.
…the 2016 referendum started a ‘national reflection’ that has now become a ‘national crisis’.
All that though, could be about to change. Perry’s mood has been particularly buoyant since his party’s success in the European elections earlier this year. They were clearly the leading party in this area for those voters who wanted to be represented by a political voice that was calling for the UK to remain part of the European Union.
When his plan to stand again as the parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye was announced earlier this week some eyebrows were raised; he had after all said he wouldn’t stand again, so why is he? “I am absolutely, passionately a pro-Eurpoean,” he tells me.
“The best deal the UK can have is EU membership. For my kids I want the opportunities that an outward looking, international, pro-European country can give them,” he says.
According to Perry the 2016 referendum on the country’s future in the EU started a “national refelection” which he says has now become a “national crisis”.
In Hastings he says EU membership is important for the fishing industry, for transport – specifically rail – and for ensuring the local NHS is properly staffed; he warns: “This constituency will lose out big time if we crash out without a deal.”
He says he has seen a real step-change in Liberal democrat support in Hastings in the last few months. He says party membership is up, canvas returns are showing rapidly growing support that is being won over from the Labour party and he talks again about the European election results which saw his party achieve a larger share of the vote in the Hastings and Rye constituency than they have for many years.
In addition local polling carried out this month suggests that 43 per cent of local people see him as the most likely candidate to galvanise pro-EU support and that’s work done by the same organisation and on the same size sample that predicted Labour’s surge in the 2017 General election.
“It’s only one poll, but it is a very specific poll. I just hope that people can see that the Liberal democrats can represent them fairly,” he tells me.
So what about the prospect of the parties that support remaining in the EU coalescing around one remain candidate?
“I’m open to a remain alliance,” he tells me, “The Liberal Democrats have a history of not being tribal, we are willing to work with other parties. My door is always open,” he says.
And he’s not so sure that all leave supporters will necessarily vote Conservative and for Amber Rudd. He believes the Brexit party will take a chunk of the leave vote in Hastings and Rye and he says that local voters don’t necessarily see Labour as a party of remain and expects many leave voters might still choose Labour.
To listen to our full interview recored earlier today then simply click on the link below.