WILL Forster, the Liberal Democrat leader on Woking Borough Council, will fight Jonathan Lord for the parliamentary seat in the general election on 8 June. UKIP is also fielding a candidate, local businessman Troy de Leon.
The Lib Dems announced that Mr Forster was their candidate this week, with Mr Lord reselected last weekend at a special general meeting of the Woking Conservative Association. UKIP named Mr de Leon on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Labour Party announced its candidate as Fiona Colley, the Southwark Council cabinet member for Finance. Ms Colley is a former pension fund manager with a Masters in Economics from the University of Cambridge. A Labour Party spokesperson said that her parents live in Woking.
Mr Forster said: “I am delighted to have been selected as the Lib Dem candidate for Woking. I have lived in Woking for more than two decades and been a councillor for the last eight years. I know Woking so well and see the problems residents face on a daily basis. I love this town and this borough, and I want to be its voice in Westminster.”
Europe is likely to feature heavily in the Woking campaign with Mr Forster saying: “I know so many people, including lifelong Conservatives, are very unhappy with the current MP who backed Leave in the recent referendum and is backing the Government’s Hard Brexit agenda, despite Woking voted overwhelming to Remain.
“As Woking’s MP, I will always back local residents and represent their views in Parliament.”
Mr Lord said: “It has been a great privilege to have represented the residents of the Woking constituency since 2010 and I am honoured that our local Conservative Association has re-selected me as their candidate for the election.
“Under Conservative leadership both locally and nationally, I think that Woking has gone from strength to strength. There has been a real transformation of our town centre over the past few years and our villages and communities continue to be wonderful places to live and to raise a family.
“Business is good, local employment is at an all-time high, and our young people are doing outstandingly well at our schools and colleges.
“But we must never be complacent. I believe that it is only Theresa May and a Conservative Government, supported by our excellent local Conservative councils, who can help deliver the continued growth and prosperity we need to flourish into the future.”
Mr de Leon has had connections in Woking for about 25 years and has lived in the town for around ten years. He is standing in the county council elections today for the Knaphill and Goldsworth West seat, where his chief opponent is also a Conservative, Cllr Saj Hussain.
Mr Lord had a 20,810 majority over second-placed Labour in 2015. The Lib Dems put up a strong fight in the 2010 general election coming second with a gap of less than 7,000 votes. But in the nationally disastrous election five years ago, the party finished third in Woking, 174 votes ahead of UKIP.