The Cumberland Councillor for Stanwix Urban, Brian Wernham, has been selected to become the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Carlisle.

Elected to Cumberland in 2022, Cllr Wernham received 96 per cent of the vote from local members and will now take on Conservative, John Stevenson, Labour’s Julie Minns and Gavin Hawkton from the Green Party in Carlisle at the next election.

Carlisle last elected a Liberal MP in 1918 and the Liberal Democrats have never finished higher than third in a general election in the city, but despite recent history, Cllr Wernham is confident of pulling off a shock victory in Carlisle.

“I think the votes for Conservative incumbent John Stephenson MP have evaporated,” said Cllr Wernham.

“We've been doing lots of door knocking recently and in areas where you'd expect there to be very strong, traditional Conservative support, they're basically saying that now they're going to vote Liberal Democrat as the best option to keep Labour out and beat the Labour candidate.

“They'd rather vote Lib Dem than Conservative.

“I won in Stanwix and Stanwix had been Conservative for at least 50 years with 60 per cent at least the vote being blue.

“For me, it was the other way round at 60/65 per cent voted for me and the Liberal Democrats in Stanwix.

“So basically, I'm just extending that same idea of knocking on doors, listening to people's concerns and trying to talk sense rather than rather talking about things these distractions like the Rwanda Scheme and the Bibbi Stockholm debacle.”

Cllr Wernham claimed that from conversations he's having on doorsteps, support for the Conservatives and their candidate John Stevenson is waning.

“John Stevenson is going to get less than 10,000 votes," he predicted.

“There's maybe a hard rump of 20-25 per cent, who will always vote Conservative, but the middle ground where he was getting votes before, he's lost.”

Liberal Democrats have struggled since exiting the coalition government in 2015, with the electorate punishing the party over their broken pledge regarding university tuition fees and their involvement with austerity.

But the party has had a good set of local election results over the past few years and have picked up parliamentary seats in by-elections.

“The coalition is a long time ago, 13 years, and a lot of lessons have been learned,” said Cllr Wernham.

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“There were good and bad sides of that coalition. I've joined since and I think the party has changed a lot.

“Labour shifted to the right of the Liberal Democrats that made that quite clear in terms of social issues, and on taxation there is not a whisker of difference between what Keir Starmer is saying and the Conservatives - he's just setting himself up as an alternative for Conservative voters, and he will lose a lot of votes for that reason, both from people who are on the far left and also people who think that things are unfair.

The date for the next general election has yet to be confirmed but it must be held before January 2025.