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Brent MP Sarah Teather to stand down at 2015 election

PARTY DIFFERENCES: Sarah Teather (PA)

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT Sarah Teather has decided to quit as an MP at the 2015 national election due to personal disagreements with “aspects of government policy”.

The announcement means she will not contest again for her Brent Central seat, but will stay on for the next two years.

Her party said they are “disappointed” by her decision.

In a statement on her website, Teather said: “For various reasons, to do with some aspects of government policy and the very particular issues that brought me to politics in the first place, I now feel that come the next general election, it will be the right time for me to step aside.

“As with most party members, there have always been a few issues where I have disagreed with party policy.”

She added: “But over the last three years, what has been difficult is that policy has moved in some of the issues that ground my own personal sense of political vocation - that of working with and serving the most vulnerable members of society.

“I have disagreed with both government and official party lines on a whole range of welfare and immigration policies, and those differences have been getting larger rather than smaller.”

One particular policy that seems to have dismayed the MP, who first was elected to parliament in 2003 at the age of 29, was Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s stance on immigration.

His plan to include a £1,000 deposit for immigrants applying for visas made her “catastrophically depressed”, she told the Observer, adding she “no longer feels that Nick Clegg's party fights sufficiently for social justice and liberal values on immigration”.

Speaking further about her party’s association with the Conservatives and its willingness to follow Tory policy on immigration, she also said: “It was an absolutely black moment. I couldn't even move from my seat when I read it. I was so depressed I couldn't even be angry. I was utterly desolate”.

Teather, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on refugees, also was opposed to the Home Office’s recent campaign using vans to tell illegal immigrants to “Go home or face arrest”.

A spokesman for the Lib Dems said: “Of course we are disappointed by Sarah's decision.

“The Liberal Democrats have a proud record in government, including cutting taxes for working people by £700 and lifting the poorest paid out of tax altogether, helping businesses create a million jobs; investing billions more in schools to help the poorest children and introducing radical plans for shared parental leave.”

Also commenting on her decision to stand down at the next election Labour councillor Patrick Vernon said he understood why Teather wanted out.

He said: “She realises that her party has no moral compass on social justice in fighting for the rights of local people in Brent.

“Some people have said that they should be a by election as she may not be committed to Brent over the next 20 months. This is up to Sarah to decide but I do think she does have a duty to organise a public meeting to explain to her constituents her intentions as the current local MP.”

Vernon added that he would put himself forward as a prospective candidate for Labour in Brent.

Operation Black Vote has described minority voters as having a "very significant" impact on deciding who wins Brent Central - the organisation says 57.9 per cent of voters are BME, while Teather won her seat in 2010 with an "ultra marginal" majority of 1,345 votes.

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