A former Conservative minister who defected from the party to join the Liberal Democrats in 2019 has urged Labour and Green Party candidates not to stand in the upcoming Chesham and Amersham by-election.

Dr Phillip Lee, a former justice minister in Boris Johnson’s government and a pro-remain former Bracknell MP, suggested that by not having a Labour or Green Party candidate in the by-election, the Tories would have a better chance of losing due to a lack of what he called a split opposition vote.

He tweeted on Sunday, a day after the Buckinghamshire Council election results were announced: “Interesting Bucks CC #LocalElections21 results.

“Lib Dems clearly in 2nd place in Chesham & Amersham. Usual story of split opposition vote allowing Tories to hang on.

“If Labour and The Green Party want Tories to lose, don’t stand in the upcoming by-election.”

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He seemed to suggest that if Labour and the Green Party did not have candidates in the by-election, those who would have voted for them could, instead, vote for the Lib Dems because those voters did not want the Conservatives to be elected.

Dr Lee, a part-time GP and the son of former Wycombe district Cllr Tony Lee, was rumoured to be standing in the by-election for the Lib Dems but Sarah Greene was announced as the party’s candidate on Saturday.

It comes after the Liberal Democrats did well in Amersham and Chesham Bois in the Bucks Council elections last week – with Jason Keeler, Dominic Pinkney and Mark Roberts all getting over 1,000 votes each – but the Conservatives still took the win.

The Lib Dems did have a victory in the Chiltern Ridges – in a surprising turn of events, Mohammed Fayyaz, who was not present at the count, was one of three councillors elected alongside Patricia Birchley and Jane MacBean, both Conservative.

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Mr Fayyaz was followed by Lib Dem Alan Bacon, who got 1,604 votes – ahead of the third Conservative candidate for the area, Vanessa Martin, who got 1,453 votes.

The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Green Party have all announced their candidates for the by-election to replace late MP Dame Cheryl Gillan, which could take place in June if reports are to be believed.