Vince Cable provides road map for “exit from Brexit”

Vince Cable has set out how the process of Brexit could be stopped, saying that there was a “strong possibility” of a further referendum on the facts. The FT has the story from an event they ran this weekend:

In a debate at the FT Weekend Festival held at Kenwood House in North London on Saturday, Mr Cable said: “I think there is more than a possibility that Brexit may never happen.” He added: “The balance of probability is still that it does, but there is a strong possibility of it being stopped because tensions within and between major parties are so large, that one or other may want to let the public decide on the facts whether this is something they want to go ahead with.”

He was speaking after Theresa May’s visit to Japan in pursuit of a trade deal:

The Lib Dem leader said that prime minister Theresa May was struggling to prove Britain could strike good trade deals with non-EU economic powers. “We’ve just seen in the last few weeks how absurd this is,” he said. “The PM has gone off to Japan to negotiate some special trade deal and they have said they would much rather deal with the EU.” Mr Cable said that the government had asked India for a special deal on whisky and financial services, and that India had asked for more visas. “To which [Mrs May] said, ‘sorry we can’t, we are trying to keep people out,’ and the Indians said, ‘get on your bike’,” Mr Cable said.

The article highlights Vince’s reputation as “one of the most financially literate critics of British Governments since 1997.” That authority and credibility could prove crucial in the months ahead.

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36 Comments

  • The trouble for the Cable thesis is that the Europe he so desperately wants us to opt back into come 2019 or later is not going to be the one we voted to leave in 2016.

    Already the idea of having a common Euro zone finance minister is becoming a very real prospect, while the move for a common military organisation is already moving on apace. Take away the British rebate, meaning massively higher net contributions, as well as existing opt outs from Schengen and the Euro and the equation of re-joining the European Union would be entirely different.

  • Laurence Cox 3rd Sep '17 - 11:31am
  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '17 - 11:33am

    Let’s not get into the Article 49 arguments quite yet. Other things need to happen first.
    As parliament returns the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 has provided interviews with Keir Starmer (Labour) and David Davis (Tory). The commitment to balance continues to exist, so we look forward to an interview with the Liberal Democrat leader, perhaps on the Daily Politics, and soon.
    The EU reform bill (not ‘great’, that is unparliamentary language) was an issue on which David Davis could have been asked about the omissions which Green co-leader Caroline Lucas MP highlighted. Air pollution is an important example. Installing the same policy after Brexit is inadequate if the Tory government disallows enforcement mechanisms.

  • Bill Fowler 3rd Sep '17 - 12:07pm

    the bottom line at the moment is that Merkel et al, expect the British people to accept the consequences of their actions (ie the referendum), which will be a unique concept to many in the country.

  • Mick Taylor 3rd Sep '17 - 1:32pm

    @RC. We haven’t left yet. So it may not be a question of rejoining, but simply tearing up the article 50 notice and staying on current terms. The window for this still exists even if it is a small one. I for one favour that course of action because the reality of leaving the EU, on whatever terms this omnishambles of a government can get, will be significantly worse than the current position and without any influence on the EU at all. So I agree with Vince and want #exitfrombrexit

  • Peter Martin 3rd Sep '17 - 2:35pm

    @ Laurence Cox,

    Didn’t the even Littler Irelanders have their own Ir-exit some 100 years ago?

    Maybe they just missed the point of the UK union?

  • Peter,
    As an economist you must be aware what the effects of Irexit where. Trade crashed between Dublin and Belfast. The Irish government made draconian cuts, including the Old Age Pension and Ireland’s biggest export up until joining the EEC was people. Only after joining a much bigger economic market did the Irish economy boom. Now given this please explain why leaving a bigger market is good for us?

  • Vince Cable is completely out of touch with the people who voted to leave. These people wanted to get their country back – control of borders and making our own laws. We shall also make our own trade deals and the future will be much brighter outside of the EU where all the major growth is taking place.

    Leavers did this for the benefit of their children and grandchildren, what better than to leave them with a free, democratic, self governing nation with the world as a market place?

    How awful if we were to leave them with no control over anything, ruled by Brussels and locked into ever more integration in an undemocratic, failing political experiment.

    Those who voted to leave were well aware of short term financial risks. The positive vision of the future far outweighs any short term Project Fear scenarios.

    Leavers put country first, not their wallets.

    There are some who see rule by Brussels as the preferred option. Most patriotic Brits would reject that view.

  • @ Peter “Vince Cable is completely out of touch with the people who voted to leave.”

    And you, dear Peter, are “completely out of touch with the people who voted to remain.

    The rest is what the Scots call blether.

  • This is a game of poker and we want the best outcome: no one is sure of what that is yet, even though people had simple preferences. No one really knew the consequences when they voted although some said they could manage horrid outcomes. The UK may want to stay closely
    Associated with the EU, possibly in if it costs the country less than out, to keep the UK safe in a perilous world – better the devil you know. People are scared of the tensions in the country and of the effects of cheap products from the Far East. The UK has not adjusted to the latter and should be addressing that as leaving the EU will not solve it. If anything, UK pls could be squeezed more and services like the NHS and social care put at serious risk. The LibDems believe in services for our communities, funded by taxes. Is it right that people have to crowdfund healthcare? Why isn’t there enough housing for vulnerable people? Why do carers only visit for 10
    Minutes and leave people alone for so long? The Tory Government looks on silently and has no policies to put things right. Labour Isn’t sure how to proceed. The LibDems will give the public a chance to review the Brexit deal to obtain their opinions. Greater consideration of the issue sis necessary. It isn’t black and white.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Sep '17 - 4:01pm

    Good points, Sue A, and the only black and white point I see is the date of March 2019. As Mick Taylor says, we haven’t left yet, and we should not. Brexit-exiters R us! We must surely aim to have the decision made by March 2019, preferably by another referendum, otherwise by Parliamentary decision. The proposed Transition period only kicks the ball into the long grass, as our Leader has said, and in fact would ensure that we had to accept terms worse than we have now at the end of it, since we would have left the EU.

  • Peter. Please explain why, as members of the European Union, you say we are “ruled by Brussels” or why in your opinion the UK’s political institutions are magically more democratic. Actually, we in the UK elect MEP’s just as we elect our Westminster MP’s, except of course they are elected through STV and multi member Constituencies, a notably more democratic electoral system than Westminster’s lower House of Parliament, and altogether more representative than its upper house, which is elected by nobody. Get real man, the UK is in no position to lecture other people about democracy.

  • Anthony 5th Sep ’17 – 10:46pm:
    Please explain why, as members of the European Union, you say we are “ruled by Brussels”…

    Here’s a succinct explanation…

    ‘We cannot afford to be apathetic about the EU’ [December 2003]:
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/dec/08/eu.politicalcolumnists

    Probably half of all new legislation now enacted in the UK begins in Brussels. The European parliament has extensive powers to amend or strike down laws in almost every conceivable area of public life.

    […]

    Nick Clegg is a Liberal Democrat MEP for the East Midlands.

  • Please explain why, as members of the European Union, you say we are “ruled by Brussels”

    Well, inside the EU we’re ‘ruled by Brussels’ as much as Massachusetts, California or Texas are ‘ruled by Washington, D.C.’: the fact that they send members of Congress, just like we send MEPs, doesn’t change the fact that they are not independent countries in their own right, managing their own militaries, foreign relations, and so on, but are subservient states which can be overruled by a federal government — a government which can also directly tax their citizens.

    Such is the EU’s ambition for the UK; and that’s unacceptable to most people in the UK.

    It works for the USA because the USA is one country. But Europe is not one country.

  • So, irrespective of “the EU’s ambitions for the UK” (your words), how do “countries” become “countries” (which is not an eternal concept, you know, it has evolved as a way of managing things? I can tell you, the usual way has been via conflict and conquest. Tell me why that is more legitmate, or even less harmful, than an evolutionary process that adapts to prevailing conditions? I just don’t follow your logic – in fact I believe these ideas are driven by emotional reactions, not by what is objectively an adaptive approach to a smaller world, many more people and huge cross-border issues that need solving pretty quickly.

  • how do “countries” become “countries”

    History. The UK has centuries of it. the EU has nothing that could compare.

  • @Tim
    As an island nation most of our citizens have a strong feeling of identity and nationhood. We never ever voted to hand over legal supremacy to the ECJ or law making to the EU. That is why we voted to take back these powers at the first opportunity. You may not understand any of this but that is the way it is.

  • @ Peter I think you’ll find there are several nations in these off shore variegated lumps of land – and certainly at least one of those nations voted decisively to remain in the EU – but it’s being dragged out against its will..

    “You may not understand any of this but that is the way it is.”

  • David Raw 7th Sep ’17 – 12:58pm
    …at least one of those nations voted decisively to remain in the EU – but it’s being dragged out against its will..

    They didn’t and they aren’t. The question on the ballot paper was “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”. We voted as a United Kingdom to make a decision for the United Kingdom.

  • David Raw 7th Sep ’17 – 12:58pm
    …at least one of those nations voted decisively to remain in the EU – but it’s being dragged out against its will..

    They didn’t and they aren’t. The question on the ballot paper was “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”. We voted as a United Kingdom to make a decision for the United Kingdom.

  • Re: “ruled by Brussels”… An observation

    What is interesting is how many people seem to have forgotten, overlooked or simply dismissed the UK’s direct participation in the EU, specifically the role of the PM (and their appointees) in the Commission. Likewise, they downplay the growing role of the EU Parliament. Hence fail to see our ability currently to direct, amend and veto proposed legislation.

    Obviously, after Brexit we will have no such involvement and thus given Westminster wants a relationship equal to what it currently has, it will have to consider incorporating EU27 law into UK law – somehow I suspect that EU27 regulation and law won’t be as compatible as EU28 law and regulation…

    Peter is right the fundamental issue is that whilst Westminster and specifically successive executives have happily signed up to all things EU, they failed to take a clear majority of the electorate with them. This was Nigel Farage’s original bone of contention and hence why he originally campaigned for a referendum.

    Translating this into today’s politic’s and the question is what can we do to rein in the Executive and so prevent them misusing their position. To my mind the first step is to vote down the European Union Withdrawal Bill, in it’s current form. This would actually force T.May/D.Davis to honour their words about working with the government “in the spirit of collaboration”, rather than use their rhetoric as a cover for a power grab.

  • @ Jeff Oh yes, they did.

    Repeating yourself with and without italics doesn’t alter the fact that Scotland voted decisively to remain in the EU. The rest is just blether.

  • Peter Hirst 7th Sep '17 - 4:38pm

    In my view, it is the voice of middle England that will win the day. Until the polls turn the Government will last it out. When personal advantage wins out over nostalgic emotionality and people finally see the reality of what is proposed, politicians will follow.

  • Repeating yourself with and without italics doesn’t alter the fact that Scotland voted decisively to remain in the EU

    You might as well say that Glasgow voted to leave the UK. Or that one particular street in a Labour constituency voted Tory. It did, but it’s irrelevant.

  • Peter Watson 7th Sep '17 - 5:14pm

    @David Raw “at least one of those nations voted decisively to remain in the EU – but it’s being dragged out against its will”
    Scotland had a referendum on leaving the UK and the Lib Dems very much the took the line that it should not. Ironically, Lib Dems and others stated that Scotland’s position in the EU would be jeopardised by independence. I remember commenting on here during the independence referendum that it would be an ironic (lot of irony about it seems!) slap in the face for Unionists if they won and a future Scottish Remain vote kept the UK in the EU but unfortunately the second part of that scenario was not to be. The Lib Dems wanted Scotland in the UK and an In/Out referendum on EU membership, so the moral is “be careful what you wish for”. 🙁

  • @ Dav and Peter

    Ireland and Wales never voted to be part of the United Kingdom they were conquered. While the Scottish Parliament voted for union (it is often suggested that it only did so because the members were bribed); the people didn’t. The United Kingdom did vote to join the EEC including the Court of Justice of the European Community formed in 1958 and renamed in 2009 to the Court of Justice (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Justice_of_the_European_Union).

  • Peter Martin 7th Sep '17 - 6:57pm

    @ Frankie,

    On the Ir -exit: “Trade crashed between Dublin and Belfast.”

    Yes it did. And it is true that Ireland didn’t do at all well for many years afterwards. It didn’t help that they used the pound sterling (directly at first and indirectly afterwards) when they would have been much better having their own floating currency which could have priced their exports back into world markets.

    What’s the point of fighting for your own independence just to be reliant on another country’s central bank for your money supply? The Irish are still making the same mistakes with the euro. An independent country needs its own freely floating currency to do well and prosper as shown very well by the Icelanders. All 300,000 of them!

  • @ Dav So now we know. You think Scotland’s irrelevant. Thus speaks the voice of the Little Englander, and then you say, ” History. The UK has centuries of it. the EU has nothing that could compare.”

    Well, if you took your Little Englander blinkers off you might just remember the Renaissance, the Enlightment and a whole world of cultural, musical and architectural achievement – which we all share. But I guess you don’t know much about that.

  • Mick Taylor 7th Sep '17 - 8:36pm

    Michael BG. If you look at the historical records you will find that the Irish parliament DID vote to abolish itself in the late 18th or early 19th century, although it was again said that they were bribed to do so. See the biography of Castlereagh for details.

  • The Scottish Parliament (1707) and the Irish Parliament (1800) could hardly be said to be bastions of representative democracy for the Scots and the Irish.

  • @ Mick Taylor

    I was aware that the Irish Parliament voted for union, and the people didn’t. However this does not change the fact that Ireland was conquered before this, perhaps finally in 1691, while Scotland was not conquered.

  • Michael BG 8th Sep ’17 – 12:35am………However this does not change the fact that Ireland was conquered before this, perhaps finally in 1691, while Scotland was not conquered….

    Come off it Scotland surrendered in 1302 and 1304 (in fact it surrendered so often that it was almost embarrassing)..The snag was that there were so many claimants to the throne/guardianship, and they seemed to believe that pledging fealty was like changing a shirt, that Scotland was almost always in a state of rebellion; either against England or themselves…

  • @ expats

    Scotland was only a vassal of England between 1174 and 1189. I am not aware of a surrender in 1302 only a truce. It is difficult to see the barons doing homage in 1304 as a surrender, rather than a break in the war. Independence is seen as being won at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and confirmed in the Peace of Northampton in 1328 and made clear during the reign of King David II. There was no meaningful period of time when England had totally conquered Scotland and there were no people thinking about continuing to fight the English.

  • Michael BG 9th Sep ’17 – 1:47pm……[email protected] expats….. and there were no people thinking about continuing to fight the English….

    That includes my time in Glasgow in the1960s…

  • YellowSubmarine 9th Sep '17 - 9:54pm

    Mr Cable said: “I think there is more than a possibility that Brexit may never happen.”

    I wonder what Vince would say to Jacques Delors, The Frenchman, credited as the architect of the modern European Union. In 2012 he said this – “UK would be better off leaving the EU as the eurozone moves towards becoming a federal state. He said the UK could “enter into a LOOSER economic relationship with Europe instead” and “UK could be offered a DIFFERENT form of partnership” also “If the British cannot support the trend towards more integration in Europe, we can nevertheless remain friends, but on a different basis.” – “I could imagine a form such as a European economic area or a free-trade agreement.” – “If Britain did leave, it would still be a “partner”, because it is “strategically and economically important”.

    Wise words there from Mr EU, a shame Vince cannot also see the bigger picture.

  • Ah yellow submarine that sounds just like the sort of talk I’ve had with ex girlfriends of mine. It’s not working out we need to break up but we can still be friends, please take the record collection as a sign of my regard. Strangely enough we did break up but we didn’t stay friends. I think Mr Delours is merely pointing out he wanted rid of us and is trying to sugar the pill, now we have decided to leave the relationship he doesn’t have to sugar any pill at all. He has what he wants us gone and the impediment to the EU he wants gone. I suspect what happens to us is of little consequence we are merely a obstacle removed and no need to give us the record collection as a leaving present.

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