UPDATE: Stephen Lloyd will not seek re-election in Eastbourne
Former Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has this morning (Monday) announced he will not be seeking re-election as the town’s MP.
Mr Lloyd, who lost the seat to Conservative Caroline Ansell in the General Election in December 2019, was expected to remain as the Liberal Democrat’s prospective parliamentary candidate in any forthcoming elections.
But today he said that after a ‘great deal of thought’ and after 19 years as both a parliamentary candidate and MP, he will not be seeking re-election at the next General Election.
Mr Lloyd was the long time parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats and Eastbourne and Willingdon’s MP during the coalition years, and again from 2017 to 2019.
He said, “After a great deal of thought I have finally decided that, after 19 years serving as Eastbourne and Willingdon’s parliamentary candidate and MP, I will not be seeking re-election at the next General Election. The job has been a huge privilege and I have loved every minute of it.
“I will continue doing what I have always done and what still remains incredibly important to me - playing an active role in our community. I love Eastbourne and have got to know thousands of residents over the years. I’ve been touched by the kindness and generosity of so many people, by their tenacity in times of trouble, their humour and absolute passion for our community. Bricks and mortar are important but it’s people who count, and this town is brilliantly served in that regard.
“Moving forward, the local Lib Dems will be proceeding with a selection process to find a new parliamentary candidate. As the party’s chair and former MP I shall remain neutral throughout the process, and I am very confident a brilliant new candidate will emerge.
“My one piece of advice to whoever this will be is ‘to work hard for the people of Eastbourne and Willingdon, put them and the town first above all things’. They will reward you with their affection and appreciation which is worth far more than any political bauble, of that I am sure.
“Thank you Eastbourne and Willingdon. It’s been an honour to serve you all.”
Eastbourne council leader and fellow Lib Dem David Tutt paid tribute to Mr Lloyd.
He said, “I am very sad to learn that Stephen has decided not to stand for Parliament again, but having discussed this decision with him, I understand and respect his reasons.
“His record as our MP was second to none. He spent every waking hour fighting for Eastbourne and supporting individual members of our community in their campaigns for justice. Stephen achieved a great deal - from his apprenticeships drive which led the way across the UK, to bringing back our carnival, lifting the town after the awful Eastbourne Pier fire, steadfastly supporting the DGH - to all points in between. It was crystal clear to me where Stephen’s political heart lay.
“I am also well aware of the number of people who have told me that they want him back and just how much he, as our MP, is still missed. Stephen and Cherine will be staying in the town and I know he’ll continue to contribute to it’s wellbeing. Frankly I’d expect nothing less of him.
“For the local Liberal Democrats it is now time to move on and build on Stephen Lloyd’s legacy. We will commence the process of selecting a successor with the chosen candidate being announced later in the summer. Our town deserves an MP who puts it first. I am confident the new Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, once chosen by our local members, will win back the seat at the next General Election.”
Jenny Eldridge, a local charity volunteer, said, “I am very sad to learn that Stephen Lloyd is leaving politics. As Eastbourne’s Member of the House of Commons twice since 2010 he fought, and won, so many battles for the town and individual constituents. One of the factors I also admired about him so much was going against his Party Whip and sticking to his word, in representing the wishes of the majority of his constituents. I was genuinely disappointed when he lost the 2019 General Election.
“Stephen was such a stalwart to Eastbourne and many charity and community groups, of which one of them is the Eastbourne Dementia Action Alliance where I am the volunteer coordinator. Despite being incredibly busy as the MP, whenever I asked him to join in some bag-packing to raise funds he was always there for us. I know there are many other local charities who would say the same.
“In my opinion, Stephen Lloyd is the best MP Eastbourne has had and I’m saddened he won’t be standing for us in Parliament again. However, from what I know of him, as a lovely, caring person, he will still be beavering away behind the scenes to help the people of the town he loves so much. Farewell Stephen, but definitely not goodbye. I’m proud to have you as one of my friends.”
Deputy leader of Eastbourne council Stephen Holt said, “I originally worked as Stephen’s casework advisor and later chief of staff for five years. He taught me the importance of public service whilst never losing sight of your principles or values; of working - often ridiculous hours - for a common purpose: To do the best for Eastbourne and its residents.
“As our MP he dealt with thousands of cases, from potholes to benefits, immigration to the DGH. Stephen also worked tirelessly to support new businesses and bring new investment into the area. Simply put, Eastbourne was his passion and it was a privilege for me to see that in action, day in day out, when he was our MP.
“Stephen and his partner Cherine have become close personal friends of mine. I wish them both the very best in whatever the future brings.”
The process of selecting the next Liberal Democratic parliamentary candidate is expected to take around three months.
Officials say Eastbourne is viewed as a leading and winnable target seat for the party, and they anticipate candidate applications from across the UK who are on the Lib Dem approved parliamentary list.
These applications will be whittled down to a shortlist of four by the local party’s selection panel. Each will then conduct their own campaigns over a period of weeks amongst local members, who will decide on the best candidate. An announcement will subsequently be made.