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Why Rob Castell is standing aside for Dominic Grieve?

November 1, 2019 11:13 AM
By Rob Castell in The Times

Rob has explained why in The Times article .

Dominic and Rob campaigning cut

Time to meet the Tory rebel. Friday afternoon. A quiet pub. Well I wasn't gonna meet him in a Greggs was I. And he didn't walk in whilst doing a selfie video. No this was the other rebel. Grieve.

I order a pint. He goes for an orange juice, immediately getting the upper hand. We find a couple of armchairs away from the non elites. I'm not sure whether to whisper or maybe even pass a note across the table. Disappointingly, he just starts talking openly at a normal volume and tells me everything he's thinking and what his position is. 'This is easy' I think, I've got him exactly where I want him. And then I realise that actually he's got me right where he wants me - agreeing to stand aside and support his efforts to be re-elected as MP for Beaconsfield. All so devastatingly logical.

He offers me some crisps. I accept.

Why? Why step down at the start of my political career? Well that's one reason right there - I am at the very beginning of my political career and he is close to the end of his, possibly very close. Dominic's wealth of experience, legal knowledge and ability to employ devastating parliamentary jujitsu are all much needed in these strange times. You don't get given a lengthy training programme to become an MP, you get thrown into the deep end and I did not want to risk immediately drowning while Dominic looked on wearily. I was also responding to near hysterical pressure from constituents who couldn't believe that the Lib Dems were about to pit their own little Remainer newbie against the Meryl Streep of the People's Vote campaign. To top if off, my own local party members asked me at the hustings if I would consider standing aside - who's side are these idiots on? The Remain side it turns out. For me, at this point in time, the only side that matters.

So does that make me an immediate convert to all things Grieve? No. And it doesn't have to either. But the system is the system. First past the post serves to frustrate the most. That's a rhyme I just made up. Proportional Representation would be better for the nation. See I'm on a roll now. If the last three and a half years of inertia have taught us anything it's that parliamentary arithmetic is vitally important. You simply cannot make a change unless you have the numbers to do it and in Beaconsfield the arithmetic strongly suggests that the best chance for a Remainer to represent us in parliament is for me to stand aside. So I am standing aside.

I reach for my phone. An enormous number of tweets responding to my announcement. One of my favourites - 'Lib Dems in bed with the Tories again'. I respond, 'Except it's the Lib Dems supporting an Independent AGAINST the Tories'. He comes back, 'He's still a Tory.' Except he isn't. This could go on for a while. I order a pint. And some crisps.