Labour has forgotten its eurosceptic heritage and left the working classes behind

Labour’s autumn political broadcast Our Town told viewers “we lost control” and “we’ve been sold short by a political and economic system that has been unchallenged for far too long.” Labour’s bait-and-switch broadcast was a clear attempt to reconnect with blue-collar Leavers in marginal English seats. Yet these voters are amongst those most alienated by Labour […]

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Labour’s autumn political broadcast Our Town told viewers “we lost control” and “we’ve been sold short by a political and economic system that has been unchallenged for far too long.” Labour’s bait-and-switch broadcast was a clear attempt to reconnect with blue-collar Leavers in marginal English seats.

Yet these voters are amongst those most alienated by Labour as it cartwheels over the horizon to the left, turns its back on 70% of all Labour constituencies and elopes with the elitist ‘People’s Vote’ campaign.

Indeed the neglect of Labour’s Eurosceptic tradition shows the party has left its erstwhile working-class supporters behind.

Activists at Labour’s Annual Conference in Liverpool who agitated for a ‘People’s Vote’ seemed oblivious to their party’s history of opposition to the European Project.

The first post-war Labour government opposed participation in the European Coal and Steel Community. Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin said: “If you open that Pandora’s Box you never know what Trojan Horses will jump out.” Labour Deputy Prime Minister Herbert Morrison said of the Community: “It is no good, the Durham miners will not wear it.”

Former Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee summed up Labour’s antipathy to ‘ever closer union’ when he observed: “The idea of a politically integrated Europe is historically looking backward… We have always looked outward, out to the new world, and to Asia and Africa.”

Attlee’s successor Hugh Gaitskell told the 1962 Labour Party Conference the aim of the founding fathers was federation” and “if we go into this, we are no more than a state, as it were, in the United States of Europe, such as Texas or California.” This meant “the end of Britain as an independent nation state” and the “end of a thousand years of history”.

Tony Benn called for a referendum on entry in 1970 and wrote to his constituents: “It would be a very curious thing to try to take Britain into a new political entity… by a process that implied that the British public were unfit to see its historic importance for themselves.”

Harold Wilson was forced to seek a renegotiation of Britain’s Community membership and called the European Communities Referendum of 1975. The Parliamentary Labour Party had previously voted against joining. Labour’s Conference had split two-to-one against the Common Market. Seven Cabinet members campaigned as ‘Antis’ and Wilson’s wife Mary voted out.

And under Michael Foot, Labour advocated leaving the Common Market without a referendum, a policy that subsequently became a manifesto pledge.

Fast forward to the present and the Sunday Times reported recently that Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Member of Parliament for 58% Leave-supporting Hayes and Harlington, had held secret talks with the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign and has hosted Alastair Campbell and ‘People’s Vote’ Communications Director Tom Baldwin in his House of Commons office.

National director of Momentum Laura Parker attended a rally in November in support of a second referendum.

Then The Times discovered a motion that is being circulated among Constituency Labour Parties calling for a Special Conference with one motion on the agenda for a ‘People’s Vote’ with Remain as an option.

It is ironic that the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn is slowly moving towards their third-way Blairite doppelgängers on a second referendum.

Then again, why wouldn’t they? They are equally worlds apart from these totemic figures of post-war Labour history in having no attachment to parliamentary sovereignty and little real connection to Britain’s working-class communities.

Labour is now a very different party from what it once was. The very notion of Labour as a party for blue-collar voters is a social, cultural and electoral anachronism.

Firstly, when Labour talks about “Our Town” it doesn’t really have in mind the sociology of Leave-voting Macclesfield or Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. Labour’s imaginary ‘town’ is the parallel universe of ‘high status city dwellers’ and faux left opinion formers living in metropolitan London.

Labour is politically dependent on the metropolis. In the six months following Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, 81,000 Londoners joined his party, double Labour’s total membership in Wales. Corbyn, Starmer, Thornberry and McDonnell all sit for London constituencies (two in the London Borough of Islington alone).

They share the same geographically narrow worldview as that of Stronger In whose four principle staffers grew up in London within two square miles of each other. Two went to the same school. One was the son of a Labour Home Secretary and another was Lord Mandelson’s Godchild.

And whereas in the 1970s less than a third of Labour MPs were graduates, now 90% are. When the mask slips, it reveals a prejudice about working-class Leave voters such as when Huddersfield’s Labour MP Barry Sheerman claimed “better educated people” voted Remain and when Owen Jones talks about ‘gammons’.

Secondly, Corbyn’s bien pensant ‘Global Villager’ values don’t resonate in the Brexitlands of Wales, the Midlands and the North. Harold Wilson told Bernard Donoghue: “I don’t want too many of these Guardianisms. I want my speeches always to include what working people are concerned with.”

Yet the modern left’s disillusionment with the workers has become a post-Brexit antipathy. The social democracy of earlier generations has given way to identity politics, a political style that increasingly inflects the voice of Continuity Remain.

Consequently, the pro-EU left can’t understand blue-collar political interest in sovereignty and democratic oversight of our laws, borders, trade and money.

Thirdly, the ‘peak Corbyn’ electoral coalition was beaten by the Conservatives in C2DE vote share, prompting the New Statesman to write of Labour’s middle-class populism: “the property tycoons of Chelsea must be congratulating themselves for having seen off a threat to their children’s inheritances.”

Former Vote Leave Co-Chair and former Labour MP Gisela Stuart did her party a service when she said Brexit was a “wake-up call” to Labour. But the party’s Remainist ‘People’s Vote’ tendency would re-empower the ‘lobbyists, multinationals and Brussels elites’ Labour Leavers voted to dispossess.

Indeed, according to the British Social Attitudes survey, before the Brexit victory, nearly one in two workers felt ‘people like them’ no longer had a voice in the national conversation and Brexit won in 140 heavily working-class and historically Labour districts.

Flirting with the elitist ‘People’s Vote’ is therefore potentially disastrous for many Labour MPs. A recent IQR survey for Global Britain of the 25 most marginal Labour seats found 19 Labour candidates would face defeat if Labour attempted to frustrate Brexit and 63% of voters said MP’s decisions in Parliament should respect the result.

Labour should heed the advice of UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis who recently told Labour’s leadership to “never, ever forget your base.” Supporting a coup against five million or so of the party’s Leave voters would reinforce the perception that those who voted to take back control in the referendum would stand to lose the most control, in the political and cultural sense, from a Labour government that will only speak for Remoania.

Ironically, Labour’s Eurosceptic tradition was channelled by Vote Leave in its referendum broadcast featuring images of Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan in which voters were asked to “imagine our money being spent on out priorities”, which we could do if we voted to taken back control.

By contrast, Labour’s Our Town is part of the “give back control agenda” of a party that has long forgotten the people it was founded to represent.

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Could the Scottish Tories back a #peoplesvote?

The Scottish Tories could be about to back a People’s Vote says the New Statesman’s Chris Deerin.  He cites a “prominent” Conservative MSP as saying: “When I look at what’s going on down south, I feel appalled and embarrassed,” one prominent MSP tells me. “I hate the English party. I’m horrified at the support for […]

The Scottish Tories could be about to back a People’s Vote says the New Statesman’s Chris Deerin. 

He cites a “prominent” Conservative MSP as saying:

“When I look at what’s going on down south, I feel appalled and embarrassed,” one prominent MSP tells me. “I hate the English party. I’m horrified at the support for no deal being expressed by party members. I’ve stopped reading ConservativeHome.”

And they might back a second referendum if it is clear that Mrs May’s deal can’t get through Parliament:

Senior Scottish Tories believe the UK is on a trajectory to crash out of the EU without a deal, and that this could be fatal for the unity of the United Kingdom. I understand that they will back any measure that prevents no deal, and could publicly express support for a second referendum – if May’s deal can’t pass parliament – as early as next week. I’m told both Davidson and her stand-in Jackson Carlaw are signed up to this position. “No deal would be disastrous and jeopardise the union so we will reluctantly have to go back to the country and ask them,” says a source.

With Theresa May’s days already being numbered, the prospect of an ultra-Brexiteer as leader is not an endearing thought to her party north of the border:

Scottish sources say that if the UK party elects an English nationalist leader – ie someone from within the ERG group – it would strain the bonds to breaking point. It would also undermine the 2021 campaign – “if the Westminster Tories are as divisive and newsworthy at that point then it doesn’t matter what we do, we’re fucked,” according to a key member of Team Davidson.

That’s kind of where her opponent, Murdo Fraser, was in the leadership election Ruth Davidson won back in 2011.

I will believe the backing of the People’s Vote when I see it, not least because this is a very Holyrood-centric article. There is no sign of the Conservative MPs backing this approach although some of them are already opposed to the deal. However, it would be a very significant development if it did happen.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

13 December 2018 – (not just) today’s press releases

You’d think that putting the day’s piece to bed after 11.30 p.m. should cover everything. But no, the Press Teams both in London and Cardiff had one last shot in the dying moments of yesterday, so I’m including them with today’s batch. Enjoy… Theresa May Must Give the People the Final Say – Welsh Lib […]

You’d think that putting the day’s piece to bed after 11.30 p.m. should cover everything. But no, the Press Teams both in London and Cardiff had one last shot in the dying moments of yesterday, so I’m including them with today’s batch. Enjoy…

  • Theresa May Must Give the People the Final Say – Welsh Lib Dems
  • PM must now change course and offer people the final say
  • Soaring numbers of children trapped in temporary accommodation is shameful
  • Welsh Lib Dems Welcome Prostate Cancer MRI Scans
  • Govt must set out plans to avoid NHS winter crisis
  • Lib Dems demand MPs holidays are cancelled to vote on Brexit
  • Cable: May running scared of meaningful vote
  • Local government finance hits poorer communities the hardest

Theresa May Must Give the People the Final Say – Welsh Lib Dems

Following Theresa May’s victory in the confidence vote in her leadership, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Prime Minister to give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.

Conservative Party rules mean that once a leader has survived a no confidence vote, they cannot face another vote for at least another 12 months.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

Theresa May has survived the no confidence vote, but this is hardly a glorious moment for her and her Premiership. The fact Theresa May even had to face this vote speaks volumes about how even her own MPs feel she has mismanaged Brexit.

However, this victory also presents an opportunity for Theresa May. Now she cannot face another confidence vote for at least 12 months, Theresa May should use this opportunity to do what is in the national interest and call a People’s Vote. In doing so, she would have the support of MPs from across the House.

The Prime Minister may have survived this confidence vote, but this doesn’t change the fact there is no majority for her deal in Parliament and the EU is unwilling to renegotiate. The only solution to this Brexit crisis is to give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.

PM must now change course and offer people the final say

Responding to the 1922 confidence vote on Theresa May, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Having seen the Conservative backbenches will not support her deal the Prime Minister must change course.

Her deal is doomed to defeat in the Commons, so she should show real leadership by putting this question back to the public in a People’s Vote.

The EU is clear that there is no more negotiating to do, so it’s this deal or No Brexit. That is the choice on which every voter should now have a final say – and Liberal Democrats will campaign vigorously for the UK to remain a full member of the EU.

Soaring numbers of children trapped in temporary accommodation is shameful

Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse has accused the Conservative Government of a “shameful dereliction of duty” as office figures show the number of children in temporary accommodation reaches an 11-year high.

Wera Hobhouse said:

It is an absolute disgrace that hundreds of thousands of children are trapped in temporary accommodation. The Conservative Government’s failure to look after these vulnerable families is a shameful dereliction of duty.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Every child deserves the best possible start in life. Conservative Ministers cannot stand by and ignore this tragedy.

Liberal Democrats would build 100,000 new social homes every year, ensure that housing benefits are sufficient for covering rent and bring the thousands of vacant properties across the country into use.

Welsh Lib Dems Welcome Prostate Cancer MRI Scans

The Welsh Lib Dems have welcomed the decision of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to approve the use of non-invasive MRI scans to detect prostate cancer.

The scans have been piloted in three areas of Wales, but their approval paves the way for their use by health boards across Wales.

The decision follows a policy motion on Improving the Detection Rate of Prostate Cancer in Wales, passed by Welsh Lib Dem Autumn Conference this year.

Chair of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats and prostate cancer survivor Andrew Lye said:

I have spent most of 2018 dealing with my own diagnosis of prostate cancer and got the all clear in October, but I am still on treatment. We must remember 1 in 8 men will catch prostate cancer and every year 550 men will die of it in Wales. We now see more men dying of prostate cancer than women dying of breast cancer.

It is a sad indictment that Wales currently has fewer multi-parametric (mpMRI) facilities than available to men in England. This has to be rectified urgently. We have to improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer and reduce the large numbers that die from it.

It was a pleasure for me to bring this matter to the Welsh Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference in October, at Aberystwyth. We supported this petition to the Welsh Assembly. I am proud the Welsh Liberal Democrats gave their full backing at Conference to the motion I proposed from the Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire Local Party. We need better facilities in West Wales as well as in North Wales.

Govt must set out plans to avoid NHS winter crisis

Responding to NHS England’s first weekly report of the winter which shows hospitals are so overcrowded care is being put at risk, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

It is intolerable to think that patients are being turned away at their hour of need. These reports bear all the hallmarks of yet another Conservative NHS winter crisis. People deserve better.

It’s essential that Ministers urgently set out plans for tackling the challenges facing our NHS and social care. That starts with ensuring hardworking NHS staff have sufficient resources to provide the care people need.

The Liberal Democrats would deliver a dedicated NHS and Care Tax to guarantee that the system has sustainable funding for the future.

Lib Dems demand MPs holidays are cancelled to vote on Brexit

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has written to the Leader of the House demanding Parliament doesn’t rise for Christmas unless MPs get a vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The call follows the publication today of the business in the House of Commons for next week. The business confirms the Conservative Government has no intention of moving a vote on the Brexit deal before Christmas.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said:

At a time of so much uncertainty caused by this Brexit mess, it is an insult to the British people that Theresa May is happy for MPs to go on holiday without voting on the biggest issue in generations. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.

Liberal Democrats do not believe Parliament should rise for the Christmas recess until Theresa May does what the people expect and give MPs a vote on her deal. Now more than ever MPs should be working to help their constituents, not least by giving them a final say on Brexit with the option to remain in the EU.

Cable: May running scared of meaningful vote

In Brussels today, Vince Cable met with leaders from other liberal parties across Europe, including prime ministers, where he led a briefing on Brexit.

Updating them on the changing political mood in the UK, the growing support for a people’s vote, and the Government’s failure to bring forward a meaningful vote in parliament on her deal.

Commenting on the meeting in Brussels, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

From meeting with liberal leaders and prime ministers today it is clear Theresa May needs to change course.

Substantial changes are not going to be on the table and she is running scared of giving parliament a meaningful vote.

The only way forward is to offer the public a people’s vote with the option to remain.

Local government finance hits poorer communities the hardest

Responding to the Local Government Finance Settlement, Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

This settlement does nothing to address the growing inequalities across our country. The highly regressive council tax system means that, as the Conservative Government continue to underfund local government, subsequent council tax rises hit poorer communities the hardest.

There must be a reform of council tax to prevent the places with the highest demand for services for vulnerable people, struggling the most to fund it.

Liberal Democrats demand better than the sticking plaster that has been presented today. The Tories are once again kicking the can down the road, instead of setting out a long term financial package that provides security for our local services.

Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson for the House of Lords, Baroness Pinnock added:

The local government funding settlement that was released today is a drop in the ocean. The offer of £650 million for social care in 2019-20 falls drastically short when the funding gap is expected to reach £3.5 billion by 2025.

Social care should not be a post code lottery.

The hunt for certainty

Theresa May has been telling MPs that they need to vote for her deal to give certainty. That has always been hogwash because the Withdrawal Agreement kicks so much about our future relationship with the EU down the road as to be virtually meaningless. In fact, the very existence of the much maligned backstop is […]

Theresa May has been telling MPs that they need to vote for her deal to give certainty.

That has always been hogwash because the Withdrawal Agreement kicks so much about our future relationship with the EU down the road as to be virtually meaningless. In fact, the very existence of the much maligned backstop is proof that it resolves very little and leaves us worse off.

But now, Theresa May’s quest to get her deal through the Commons is even more blighted. When she told Conservative MPs that she intended to step down ahead of the next election, she was probably thinking maybe sometime in 2021. The way some of her MPs, even those who supported her, are talking tonight, she’s got until March.

That adds even more uncertainty into the mix. We have no idea who will lead the negotiations shaping our future relations with the EU. Just imagine that Tory members elect Boris who thinks the chaos of no deal is just what this country needs? At least now we can revert to our membership of the EU but after March 29th we won’t have that safety net.

Leaving the EU under this deal, or any deal that involves future negotiation is like jumping out of an aeroplane with no parachute.

Not exactly strong and stable.

The way out is for May to look not to the right of her party, but across the Commons to build an alliance the other way and put the final decision to the people. If MPs can’t come to a conclusion, it surely has to be up to the people to mark the Government’s homework.

A People’s Vote to remain gives us enough certainty to get on with our lives and start work on the things that really do need fixing – sorting out  public services, tackling devastating poverty and inequality, making sure everyone having somewhere safe and warm to live, dealing with a mental health crisis.

Let’s hope that May sees sense. The 117 ERG obsessives were the tip of the iceberg. All the Tory Remainers who wanted the deal thrown in the sea voted for her today.

There is most likely a majority for a People’s vote to be had. It’ll need Corbyn to get on board.

He really should get on with moving his motion of no confidence. Any competent leader o the opposition would have done so ages ago. If that fails, he will surely have no option than to agree to a People’s Vote…

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Why a People’s Vote enhances democracy

Of course we should have a vote on the final Brexit deal.  Because otherwise, we’re giving a free pass to the Brexit campaign of 2016 to say whatever they want, regardless of whether it’s achievable. The Brexiteers could have promised 100% employment, free homes for everyone and class sizes of 10 if they wanted to. […]

Of course we should have a vote on the final Brexit deal. 

Because otherwise, we’re giving a free pass to the Brexit campaign of 2016 to say whatever they want, regardless of whether it’s achievable.

The Brexiteers could have promised 100% employment, free homes for everyone and class sizes of 10 if they wanted to. And then when the public voted for Brexit and none of this occurred, they could just say it’s too late. Brexit means Brexit. Anything else is frustrating the result of the referendum.

There comes a point when, if what was promised before the referendum is nothing like what has been achieved in reality, that mandate needs to be held to account. We need to know if the public support the actual Brexit which is staring them in the face – rather than the one which was pitched to them two years ago on completely different terms.

We clearly reached that point a long time ago. 

The Brexit campaign was based on a vision of Brexit which just hasn’t happened. £350 million to the NHS per week? A generous trade deal with the EU? An economically more prosperous country? None of that has happened. 

If the Leave Campaign had campaigned for May’s Brexit Deal, or for No Deal, they would clearly have lost under either circumstance. That’s why I don’t like it when people justify a People’s Vote by saying that the public have a right to change their mind. This isn’t about changing minds. This Brexit was never voted for in the first place. 

Our Prime Minister doesn’t support Brexit. Our Parliament doesn’t support Brexit. The only reason that we are pursuing this policy is because it is “what the people want”. When so much has changed since the vote in 2016, shouldn’t we at least check that this really is “what the people want”? What’s the harm – from a democratic point of view? If the public really do want this version of Brexit then they will vote for it. No one is overturning anything. The public will get their way.

It’s so easy to feel uneasy about the accusations that we are trying to subvert the will of the people, or tell the public that they got it wrong, and that they should try again. The Brexiteers argue that MPs voted for the referendum to take place in the first place, that no one ever mentioned another referendum during the 2016 campaign, and that the supporters of a People’s Vote care more about staying in the EU than actual democracy. 

But these arguments are just a mixture of ad-hominems and criticisms of past positions of MPs who could never have known how far the Brexit campaign would diverge from the reality of what could be achieved. 

They can’t escape from this basic democratic principle. If you say that you are going to deliver something, and deliver something completely different, then that needs to be held to account. Otherwise we make a sham of democracy.  

* Ben is a Councillor in Sutton, and has been a member of the party since the 2015 election. He used to work for the Sutton Liberal Democrats as a volunteer organiser, but now works for a charity focusing on poverty and inequality in London. He is particularly interested in inequality, mental health, political reform and criminal justice.

Tom Brake MP writes: About that “split” with People’s Vote…

To keep up to date with Brexit developments these days it is best to have social media on a drip-feed. News of resignations, plots, and leadership bids leak out there first. It was no surprise, then, that social media was the first to pick up last week on an apparent split between the Lib Dems […]

To keep up to date with Brexit developments these days it is best to have social media on a drip-feed. News of resignations, plots, and leadership bids leak out there first.

It was no surprise, then, that social media was the first to pick up last week on an apparent split between the Lib Dems and the People’s Vote campaign. The ‘split’ was a small disagreement over the best way to maximise the prospects of securing a Final Say on the Deal through a People’s Vote.

But social media’s unsurpassed ability to pick up stories as they break is matched by an uncanny capacity to blow them out of all proportions just as quickly. Rarely has a greater storm been whipped up in a tinier tea-cup.

What caused this restlessness? Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment to the Prime Minister’s motion, in favour of a People’s Vote. Hardly a breach of the campaign objective!

There is total agreement between the Lib Dems and the People’s Vote on the need to maximise the chances of winning any vote on a People’s Vote amendment. But we can’t choose on Tuesday whether or not that is the moment to maximise support if the whole issue is left off the order paper. As things stand, we can choose whether to move it, based on changing circumstances.

Our amendment is a safety net. With the Government likely to be scouring Erskine May for the obscurest of Parliamentary loopholes or arcane procedural wheezes, no one can predict by Tuesday what will or won’t still be in play; the PM, her deal, No Deal, a vote of No Confidence, a General Election or a People’s Vote.

In a hugely volatile situation, we cannot reserve our arguments in the hope that the Labour frontbench suddenly comes to its senses. While Corbyn cynically hopes the costs of Brexit will push voters into his arms – more grist for his vision of socialism in one country – Liberal Democrats are clear that Brexit is wrong, the deal is dreadful, and both must be stopped. If we had not provided an opportunity to debate a People’s Vote amendment during Tuesday’s historic and final day’s debate, many millions of supporters – looking to us for a lead – would surely have felt betrayed.

The odd slight difference of opinion won’t stop us working across party lines to win a Final Say for the people of the United Kingdom.

* Tom Brake is Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, and the Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesman

Why is the People’s Vote campaign sidelining Lib Dems?

It’s fair to say that some party members have been expressing concern on social media about a perceived detachment between the Liberal Democrats and the People’s Vote campaign. Why is it that Caroline Lucas is representing the campaign on the Channel 4 debate tonight? Why was Vince missing from the petition event in Downing Street? […]

It’s fair to say that some party members have been expressing concern on social media about a perceived detachment between the Liberal Democrats and the People’s Vote campaign.

Why is it that Caroline Lucas is representing the campaign on the Channel 4 debate tonight? Why was Vince missing from the petition event in Downing Street? It’s not a great way to treat the party who kicked off the campaign for a final say on the deal in the Summer of 2016.

Late last week, Liberal Democrat MPs were criticised by the campaign for putting down an amendment to Labour’s amendment calling for a People’s Vote.

The People’s Vote campaign is not backing the move because they want to wait until the deal is rejected because they think that they will have a better chance of securing a referendum then.

They may be right. But in a febrile and unpredictable environment, why wouldn’t you make sure that you have the option of putting it on the agenda?

Paul Waugh is wrong in this report when he says that:

Crucially, it adopts the prime minister’s proposal and just makes it conditional on a second referendum. Unlike other amendments, it does not reject May’s deal.

It doesn’t. It is an amendment to Labour’s amendment so if both were passed, the motion passed by the House would read:

This House declines to approve the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship because itfails to provide for a permanent UK-EU customs union and strong single market deal and would therefore lead to increased barriers to trade in goods and services, would not protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, allows for the diminution of the United Kingdom’s internal and external security and is likely to lead to the implementation of a backstop provision in Northern Ireland that is neither politically nor economically sustainable; declines to approve the United Kingdom’s leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement; and therefore resolves to pursue every option, including a public vote as endorsed by the Labour Party Conference 2018, that prevents the United Kingdom’s either leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement or leaving on the basis of the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House.

We don’t know yet if our amendment will be debated or even put to the vote but we have at least got a People’s Vote on the order paper so that the House has a chance to get it into the mix.  I think we need to trust our people to know what they are doing. They are the ones having the conversations in Parliament and they will know what is possible. 

It may well be that waiting is the best option. Last week in the Times, Matthew Parris said that Tory Remainers would be much more likely to back a People’s Vote once the deal has been rejected. He may be right.  But our amendment doesn’t secure a People’s Vote. It is very cleverly worded. It just calls for it as an option to be explored. If passed, it would be a stepping stone to a future motion. If rejected, it doesn’t stop a further specific motion for one.

There are all sorts of twists and dramas that could happen before Tuesday night and I think that the People’s Vote campaign maybe needs to talk to us a bit more to understand what we are doing and why.

While we obviously support the People’s Vote campaign, we need to be aware that its Director of Communications is Ed Miliband’s former spin doctor, Tom Baldwin. He is not a fan of the Lib Dems and will not instinctively offer us a platform or give us the time of day.

People’s Vote needs to be careful that it is as inclusive as possible to all its supporters. We are so close now to achieving our common goal and we need to keep together. The lessons of the Scottish independence referendum are there in all their horror to be heeded. The awful Better Together campaign kept us pretty much out of the loop and made some disastrous decisions. It may have won the vote, but lost the campaign.

700,000 people marching on the streets of London 7 weeks ago weren’t wrong. We are winning the argument. We have the momentum. Let’s make the most of it together and secure that referendum.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

The Economist backs a People’s Vote

A Leader article in this week’s Economist argues for a referendum on Theresa May’s proposed deal: Today’s paralysis is the result of Britain’s inability to reconcile its tradition of representative democracy with its more recent experiments in the direct sort. Many argue that MPs should shut their eyes and vote for what they believe to […]

A Leader article in this week’s Economist argues for a referendum on Theresa May’s proposed deal:

Today’s paralysis is the result of Britain’s inability to reconcile its tradition of representative democracy with its more recent experiments in the direct sort.

Many argue that MPs should shut their eyes and vote for what they believe to be a damaging plan, out of respect for the referendum. They are wrong. Their argument rests on a flawed assumption: that the majority for Leave in 2016 means any resulting deal reflects the will of the people. It is far from clear that Mrs May’s plan does. It breaks many of her own negotiating red lines, never mind the promises made by campaigners in the run-up to the vote. The government has largely given up arguing that its deal will be good for the country, instead insisting that it is what democracy demands. Yet no one can claim to intuit what the people want. The only way to know is to ask them.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Party identifies 14 key MPs who could swing People’s Vote

Christine Jardine has written to party supporters asking them to email 14 key Tory MPs who the party reckons could swing a vote for a People’s Vote in the House of Commons next week. The 14 MPs voted both remain and leave in the 2016 EU referendum and are: Leave: Theresa Villiers Adam Afriyie Stuart […]

House of Commons 2010

Christine Jardine has written to party supporters asking them to email 14 key Tory MPs who the party reckons could swing a vote for a People’s Vote in the House of Commons next week. The 14 MPs voted both remain and leave in the 2016 EU referendum and are:

Leave:

Theresa Villiers
Adam Afriyie
Stuart Andrew
Steve Baker
Bob Blackman
Crispin Blunt
Maria Caulfield

Remain:

Ed Vaizey
Greg Clark
Alex Chalk
Jeremy Wright
Bim Afolami
Andrew Bowie
Steve Brine

Please get involved in this important action by clicking here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

7 December 2018 – today’s press releases

I’ve spent my evening helping Colchester Liberal Democrats to select their new PPC, which is why this is a bit late in the day. I’m hoping that we’ll have their press release tomorrow, which is why I’m not telling you who won… So, without further ado, here are today’s press releases… Davey: Brexit gambling UK’s […]

I’ve spent my evening helping Colchester Liberal Democrats to select their new PPC, which is why this is a bit late in the day. I’m hoping that we’ll have their press release tomorrow, which is why I’m not telling you who won… So, without further ado, here are today’s press releases…

  • Davey: Brexit gambling UK’s safety and security
  • Liberal Democrats lead the march to a people’s vote
  • Labour must guarantee a people’s vote
  • The Economist backs a people’s vote
  • Brexit would put the brakes on Britain, F1 bosses warn

Davey: Brexit gambling UK’s safety and security

Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee Report on the Home Office and Brexit, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Security co-operation with the EU – from Europol to the European Arrest Warrant – helps to put criminals behind bars and keep our communities safe. Brexit would throw all that away.

Theresa May is asking us to bet the safety and security of the British people on her ability to negotiate a brand-new treaty within the next two years. Based on the evidence of the last two years, that’s not a gamble anyone should be prepared to take.

And on immigration, Ministers keep repeating their mantra of ending free movement, but still refuse to spell out what they will actually do.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must publish its immigration white paper now, before MPs vote on the Brexit deal. And the people must have the final say, with the option of an Exit from Brexit.

Liberal Democrats lead the march to a people’s vote

Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Brexit Deal motion calling for a people’s vote with an option to remain in the EU.

The amendment, supported by all Liberal Democrat MPs, will seek to ensure that the UK will not crash out of the EU nor be forced to accept a bad deal.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Liberal Democrats have led the campaign for a people’s vote. We are proud to have tabled an amendment which, if passed, would ensure the people get the final say on Brexit.

Whilst we have heard warm words from Labour MPs, including the shadow chancellor, Labour seem unlikely to support a final say despite it being popular with their voters and members. However, if Labour MPs and others who are concerned about the country’s future want to join us, Liberal Democrats would welcome their support.

The Conservative government have brought a deal back that nobody wanted nor voted for. If Theresa May thinks the country is with her she must put it to the test by offering a people’s vote with an option to remain in the EU.

Labour must guarantee a people’s vote

Responding to the disagreement between John McDonnell and Len McCluskey, the Unite leader, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Whilst we appreciate that McDonnell has dismissed Len McCluskey’s nonsense and joined the Liberal Democrats in saying he would back staying in the EU over the Prime Minister’s deal in a people’s vote, this is not the time for just warm words.

The shadow chancellor and the rest of the Labour leadership must get off the fence and join their members of the Labour Party in supporting a people’s vote. The public will never forgive Labour if the frontbench lose their bottle on Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats can guarantee we will fight for the people to have a final say on Brexit, including the option to remain, at every opportunity. Labour must give that unequivocal guarantee too.

The Economist backs a people’s vote

Responding to the endorsement of a people’s vote by The Economist, Brexit Select Committee Member and Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said:

It is great to see that with each day, more and more people are backing our call for a people’s vote. We welcome all those who wish to join us in the fight against this Brexit chaos created by the Tories.

The Conservative government have brought back a deal that nobody wanted nor voted for. It is time the people were given a final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU.

Brexit would put the brakes on Britain, F1 bosses warn

Following concerns from Formula 1 team bosses, reported by Autosport magazine, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has warned that Brexit would “put Britain into the gravel trap”.

Seven of the ten current F1 teams, including world champions Mercedes, are based in the UK.

Jonathan Neale, Chief Operating Officer of the Woking-based McLaren team, told Autosport that after Brexit “It would cost us more time and be more difficult to recruit” and that border restrictions will mean higher costs, as well as “more paperwork, more administration”.

Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes, which has its F1 factories in Northamptonshire, described Brexit as “not a very pleasant development”.

Meanwhile, Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has suggested that his team will gain as EU staff leave the UK. “I suspect in the near future we will find a lot of people that are knocking on the door of Maranello,” he said, referring to the team’s factory in northern Italy.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Right now Britain is leading the race, but Brexit would put us into the gravel trap.

Our homegrown F1 teams rely on European talent to build winning cars and rely on our frictionless border to get them to the track. New restrictions will only hold them back.

Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand that the people get the final say, with the option of an Exit from Brexit.

It’s time to put the brakes on Brexit and get the UK back on pole position.