WATCH: Extraordinary moment Liberal Democrat candidate tells voters to back his opponent
A full-blown Liberal Democrat mutiny appears to be underway as a second candidate is dumped for backing an unsanctioned tactical voting pact.
Guy Kiddey, the Liberal Democrat for High Peak said the "tactical" move would ensure the Conservatives would not win the seat from Labour incumbent Ruth George who is defending a slim 2,000 vote majority.
It comes after fellow Liberal Democrat candidate, Tim Walker, stepped down in Canterbury, saying he could not face the "nightmare" of allowing a Conservative MP to be elected by splitting the anti-Brexit vote.
Mr Kiddey responded with fury to the decision by his party's leadership to replace Mr Walker, saying he would resign from the party and vote Labour unless they apologised to Mr Walker and dropped an internal disiplinary process against him.
In a statement on Twitter, he wrote: "I was, and am, appalled at this response. So is my now former election agent, who has resigned from the Lib Dems. This means that I am, in the absence of a replacement, not legally able to stand as a candidate in High Peak in the comming election, as I do not wish to be my own agent.
"I will not seek this replacement unless they party retracts its implicit threat to candidates, drops its intended disciplinary proceedings against Mr walker, and apologises unreservedly. I doubt it will, in which case I too will stand down and resign my membership, and I will vote Labour."
He added: "How many times do voters have to say they are sick of this style of politics before anyone listens? In all the campaigning I have done so far, the thing people want more than anything else is for the tirades and the aggression to stop."
But in an explosive BBC interview, Mr Kiddey openly urged voters in the marginal seat to back his Labour rival, adding he was only standing to soak up votes from those who refused to back Ms George.
"I will stand, I will encourage people to vote for the candidate, the Labour candidate who has the best chance of beating the Tory in High Peak," he said.
"But I will stand there still.... because there are people still who will not vote for the Labour candidate come what may... and it is far better that their votes come to me than go to the Tory which is the only other option in my constituency."
He added: "I am serious about this, and Tim Walker is serious about this. And actually I think lots of Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates are facing the same dilema."
And Mr Kiddey urged Jeremy Corbyn to reconsider doing a deal with the Liberal Democrats in order to boost the number of pro-Remain MPs in Parliament.
But the party were quick to respond, dumping Mr Kiddey and pledging to find a new candidate who would "stand up to Brexit".
A party spokesperson said: "Guy Kiddey is not our candidate for the High Peak. The local party will be urging voters to Stop Brexit by voting Liberal Democrat."
Party bosses will be hoping they can contain the row ahead of the final deadline to submit candidates at 4pm on Thursday.
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