Lib Dems Spy Another By-Election Opportunity Over Tory MP's Bankruptcy Risk

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  • Adam Afriyie
    British businessman and Conservative Party politician (born 1965)
Julian Tisi, the Lib Dem candidate for Windsor, hopes to build on by-election successes in Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire. (Photo: Liberal Democrats)
Julian Tisi, the Lib Dem candidate for Windsor, hopes to build on by-election successes in Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire. (Photo: Liberal Democrats)

They may only have just finished counting their by-election victory in North Shropshire, but the Liberal Democrats have already set their sights on their next Tory “Blue Wall” target seat: Windsor.

The Lib Dems began campaigning in the seat with their new candidate, Julian Tisi, this weekend amid rumblings that another by-election could be on the cards pending the outcome of bankruptcy proceedings against sitting Tory MP Adam Afriyie.

Afriyie, the MP for Windsor since 2005, is being pursued by HMRC over unpaid taxes following the collapse of his IT firm in 2007, the Guardian reported in November.

Under parliamentary rules, a sitting MP who is declared bankrupt can be forced to stand aside if a bankruptcy restrictions order is made against them — potentially triggering a by-election.

Afiyie’s spokesperson told the newspaper that negotiations were ongoing and that his advisers were working towards an agreement. Afriyie said: “I will of course pay any tax that is due.”

Tisi, who stood for the Lib Dems in the 2019 general election, is hoping to build on successes in Chesham and Amersham and most recently in the North Shropshire by-election, where the party overturned a 23,000 Conservative majority.

At the last general election, he increased the Lib Dem vote share by more than 11 per cent. The party also picked up eight council seats in Windsor and Maidenhead at last May’s local elections, which saw the tories lose 15 seats.

Opposition to Conservative planning reforms pushed by then housing secretary Robert Jenrick were largely credited with the Chesham and Amersham win, while in North Shropshire the drip feed of party scandals coming from Number 10 and the resignation of former MP Owen Paterson over paid lobbying loomed large.

In Windsor, there is similar local angst regarding a plan to build a 2,000 home “garden village” in Jealott’s Hill that Tisi believes is incompatible with climate change goals and protecting the green belt.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey told HuffPost UK that the Conservatives were “taking Windsor for granted”.

“As we saw last month in North Shropshire, people have had enough of Boris Johnson and his grossly incompetent government.

“The endless drumbeat of sleaze and scandal coming out from Downing Street is going down a stink in the Tory’s southern Blue Wall.

“Windsor is a winnable Blue Wall seat and it will clearly be a two horse race between a committed local Liberal Democrat team, and an out of touch Conservative party led by Boris Johnson.”

Meanwhile, Tisi said there was a “real sense of anger and frustration in Windsor at how the Conservatives have run the council”.

“The Conservative-led local councils have shown complete disregard for the views of local people and endlessly bulldozer through unpopular decisions.

“The Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fair deal for local people, including battling to save green spaces from unwanted development including the Windsor riverfront and Jealott’s Hill.”

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “The Conservatives are focused on delivering for people up and down the country as we build back better from the pandemic.”

HuffPost UK approached Afriyie for comment but did not receive a response.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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