IT is 3.30pm on a December afternoon, not yet dark though the light is dwindling before our very eyes.

The streets are almost deserted, with most residents at work and retired people warm and safely indoors.

The only people outdoors braving the bitterly cold weather are a hardy bunch of political activists.

Julia Aglionby’s yellow hat and scarf indicate which party she is standing for.

The Liberal Democrat candidate and a group of party volunteers are in Wetheral.

A number of her party colleagues live there – and although it’s represented on the city and county councils by Conservatives she hopes it could still prove fertile ground for her, particular given the present Tory leadership.

She gets off to a good start. The first door they knock on is home to a couple of firm and enthusiastic supporters.

“We are very concerned about the lack of choice in this election,” the man says.

Brexit comes up very often, and it is clearly going to be a decisive factor for many.

“I couldn’t vote Lib Dem at the moment because I’m a leaver,” says one elderly resident.

He admits, though, that he is attracted by their other policies. “In general it would be a better menu for me.”

A contrasting view comes from one of his neighbours. “You’ve got our vote,” says a woman just arriving home with her children. “Brexit’s going to be very damaging for youngsters.”

“I now vote Lib Dem,” says another man. “I want to avoid Brexit at all costs.

“I would rather put ‘none of the above’ though.”

People are polite, whether or not they agree. One house has a Labour poster in a window. “I’ll still give them a postcard,” Julia says.

But the resident opens the door as she is there and they have a brief but friendly conversation.

“My objective is to put myself out there as a choice and people can decide who they want to vote for,” she explains.

“Our approach is not to try to convert people.

“It’s about people feeling comfortable with the candidate.

She and the party activists have already spent three days in Stanwix, and Dalston is next on the list. What she is finding is that there are already converts.

Most of them are remain-minded Conservatives who don’t like the party’s Brexit stance and shift to the right.

“Four out of five people who are moving to us are coming from the Tories,” she says.

“They have been traditional Tories in the past but they now feel more comfortable voting Liberal Democrat.

“They often bring up the fitness of Boris Johnson to be prime minister.

“If you’re a compassionate Conservative you wouldn’t vote for the current Tory party.

“When you have Tony Blair saying he can understand people voting Lib Dem, and Michael Heseltine actually telling people to vote Lib Dem, then we are in quite an extraordinary position.

“Most parties would hope their former prime ministers or deputy prime ministers would be wholeheartedly behind them.

“It’s a fascinating election to be involved in.”

Another factor she hopes will be in her favour is that she is a local person – something she has in common with the other three candidates to be Carlisle’s next MP.

Last time the Lib Dem candidate was from outside the constituency and the party’s campaigning was minimal.

“People ask: ‘Are you related to Susan Aglionby?’ and I say: ‘Yes, she’s my mother.’

“Or they’ll ask : ‘Are you anything to Judge Aglionby?’ I say: ‘Yes, he was my father.’

“We are a small city and people are keen on someone with local roots.”

However, Carlisle has long been a two-horse race between Conservative and Labour.

At the last election John Stevenson only had a slim majority over Ruth Alcroft and Ms Aglionby accepts tactical voting may squeeze the Lib Dem vote this time.

“With the first past the post electoral system that’s inevitable,” she concedes. “There are people who are going to vote tactically.

“But there are also those who don’t believe in it.

“For everyone who says they are voting tactically I think there’s someone who says they are going to vote for what they believe in, not for who they think is the least worst option.”

And she points out: “There are a couple of weeks to go and I expected more people to be certain by now.

“But a lot are undecided. There is still a large number of floating voters.”