17 November 2018 – today’s press release

Davis’ self appointment ‘farcical’ – Brake

Responding to reports that David Davis has spent several days in Washington speaking to US Trade Officials about a free trade deal with the UK, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Having failed to negotiate properly with the EU, the idea that David Davis is now touting himself as Britain’s self-appointed ‘man in Washington’ is farcical. The Prime Minister must confirm he has not been acting in any official capacity or with her blessing.

David Davis and his Brexiter colleagues have got us into a huge mess, with Britain now facing a damaging and disorderly Brexit deal, the people must be given the right to reject the deal and remain in the European Union, through a people’s vote.

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  • Roger Billins 18th Nov '18 - 10:06am

    So Corbyn doesn’t know how he would vote in another referendum and opposes one. Despite that Labour are now ahead in the polls and we are back at 8%. Just as David Davis famously called that by election I call upon Sir Vince to do the same now..to have a people’s vote in Twickenham but perhaps with David Milliband as a unity remain candidate.

  • I believe Benny Hill was very popular in the States, I suspect the Benny Hill tribute act is going down a storm.

  • Bill le Breton 18th Nov '18 - 1:23pm

    Why on earth is the Party not using the Fixed Term Parliament Act to table a vote of no confidence in HM Government?

    Let’s have a look at what would then happen. The Tories would have to decide whether to vote against this. Those Tories so critical of May would be ‘outed’. In the soup would also be the DUP. Supporting May at the moment is to support the Draft Agreement.

    And what price would the DUP extract for supporting HMG?

    And the SNP and Labour? Labour would either have to support our initiative or abstain and so by omission give support to Mrs May’s Government and run chicken of an election. Ditto SNP.

    In the present febrile atmosphere there is a also good if slim chance that the motion would carry.

    Parliament would then have to find some combination that could carry a vote of confidence within 14 days. 14 further days of embarrassment and choice for our political rivals. How would the Tories stay united trying to chose a candidate to form such a proto-GOvernment?

    Ditto DUP, SNP or Labour in supporting or not that person. And what an internal debate they’d have.

    Of course if fourteen days passed without someone + their team carrying a vote of confidence a general election would be triggered.

    Mr Brake – table it tomorrow. I have a feeling the office to accept such a motion opens at 6.00am.

    Be there or be square.

  • Yeovil Yokel 18th Nov '18 - 1:54pm

    Bill le Breton – tabling a vote of no confidence might or might not work but it would certainly get us noticed!

  • Bill le Breton 18th Nov '18 - 2:42pm

    I should fess-up. I actually think the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) should be supported.

    But I spent twenty or so years as a political adviser where the job was to use my experience to advise on a particular course of action but when that advice was not taken to advise on the best course for my political masters and mistresses to achieve what they desired.

    The Party sent me an email yesterday that said the WA was “rubbish”. How weak was that?! You may disagree on balance with the WA but it isn’t rubbish. I replied to the email to that effect only to receive a reply saying that the address from which the email had been sent was not monitored. Now that is in Liberal terms ‘rubbish’: to preach but not to engage.

    The Liberal Democrats are feeble at the moment. They could be a greater force for stopping Brexit but haven’t the campaigning nous or political courage. I’ll take that back when they do table a motion of no confidence under the terms of the FTPA.

    The Party has failed to take courageous action since the Spring of 2011 and before that they failed to use the lessons learned by Councillors and MSPs and WAMs and made a mess of their first 100 days in Coalition. So really it is not surprising that the timidity and feebleness and errors continue.

  • Bill,

    would a no confidence motion not be tabled as an early day motion and no obligation on the speaker to call it for debate unless it was tabled by the official opposition?

    It has seemed to me that the only sure way to get a 2nd referendum on the table is a lib-con pact along the lines of the Lib-lab pact of 1978-79 that is based on a binary accept deal/remain referendum with each party supporting opposing positions.
    Labour would have to come off the fence at that point.

    If the conservative party were to lose the referendum on Mrs May’s deal, it is highly probable that a leadership contest and general election would follow.

  • Alex Macfie 18th Nov '18 - 4:58pm

    Bill le Breton: So what you’re saying is, in your opinion we cannot currently be an effective opposition so we shouldn’t even try?!?!? This is surely the Jeremy Corbyn approach. Surely the fact that we are (unlike the “official” opposition) unequivocal in our opposition to Brexit and not afraid to say so shows that it’s not us who are “timid” and “feeble”. You talk about errors made in Coalition. But the Coalition was 2 leaders ago, and the party’s composition has changed a lot since then, as has our approach to politics. Supporting the government on Brexit would be the “timid” and “feeble” approach. It would just make us look like we were back in coalition with the Tories. Imagine the field-day Momentum would have over that. The fact that we are opposing the Tory government shows how different we are now.

    To those who say we haven’t learnt from the mistakes of the Clegg era, I say this: under Clegg, our candidate was ordered to stand down in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election caused by David Davis’ vanity resignation. If we were taking the same approach to politics in 2016, we should have stood aside for Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park. The fact that we are no longer letting Tories play us like that shows that how different we are now from the Clegg-era Lib Dems.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Nov '18 - 8:36am

    Alex, no. I think there are real dangers in our present policy. I can see why we take it. But I think it is irresponsible.

    Joe, that is not a reason NOT to table the motion. If the Speaker were to ignore it in the present situation that in itself is a campaigning and newsworthy initiative. We could also liaise with the Green, and the SNP.

  • William Fowler “It is the people who voted for Brexit and then did not give Mrs May a majority in the election who have created the chaos.”

    What? I think you need to explain your reasoning. I thought it was abundantly clear that May’s problems stem from the Brexiteers in her own party, all of whom it appears like to talk-the-talk but run away when asked to walk-the-talk; probably because walking-the-talk means having to be in the real world and not the alternative reality of their personal Brexit.

  • Alex Macfie 19th Nov '18 - 5:27pm

    joeb: I know we’ve been through this debate before, but your suggestion shows exactly the sort of Cleggite political naivety that got us into such dire straits in 2015. A Confidence & Supply deal with the Tories would be the worst possible way to get a People’s Vote.
    1) It would not be an assured way of getting a People’s Vote because the ultra-Brexiteers like JRM could not be relied on to vote for it, while Labour Remainers would not be inclined to support a Tory government proposal.
    2) even if we got the referendum, if achieved the way you suggest the Remain side would most likely lose because the Remain campaign would be associated with our party, and many Labour figures would campaign against it and use it to spite us, the way they did in the AV referendum. Consider the sort of people currently in charge of Labour. They hate us more than they hate the Tories, and would jump at the chance to give us a kicking, and with us propping up the Tories we would be an open target.
    3) It would mean the end of the Liberal Democrats as an independent party.
    4) And anyway why would the Tories agree to a time-limited deal with us when they have an agreement with the DUP for the full Parliamentary term?

    We cannot afford to be seen to be propping up the Tories in any way in the present circumstances, and I’m shocked that people like JoeB and (perhaps even more surprising) Bill would think it was a good idea. And before you say anything about me supposedly wanting us to be a party of “protest not power” (a specious characterisation of Lib Dem campaigners anyway), just for the avoidance of doubt, I believe that going into coalition in 2010 was the right thing in principle (but the practice fell well short of expectations), but in 2017 it refusal to go into coalition was right in principle, both before and after the election. Horses for courses.

  • Alex Macfie 19th Nov '18 - 9:44pm

    JoeB: I am not one of those who ascribes “any and all party ills to Nick Clegg”. But I do think he has poor understanding of how to play politics in the real world, as opposed to a parlour game or debating society type setting where everyone plays nicely. It was by this political naivety that he allowed us to be played by David Davis in the 2008 Haltemprice & Howden by-election, and by David Cameron in the Coalition. Once again, the problem wasn’t that we went into coalition with the Tories, but how it was done.
    I’m also not one of those naysayers who seem to think that we’re doomed, that we’re still making the same mistakes as in the Clegg era, and who hanker after the party of Charles Kennedy (RIP). Not that Charles was a bad leader, but the political landscape of 2018 is not that of 2000–2005; the party membership is different, and the strategies used then would not necessarily work now. I agree about the need for a core vote, as discussed in another thread, so that there is less chance of our vote collapsing like a house of cards as in 2015. But gaining a core vote requires hard work and patience, and also requires us to have a distinctive identity. Propping up the Tories is the exact opposite of this, and if we are seen to be doing this, we will lose many voters that we shall need to make up our core vote.
    So voting with the Tory government in a no-confidence motion is absolutely out of the question, under any circumstances. If we did, then when the Tory government collapsed, we would fall with it.
    Like it or not, Momentum is part of the political landscape, and we have to deal with the politics as it is, not as we would like it to be. And Momentum have a reputation for not playing nicely. So we cannot afford to give them ammunition, like, for example, actually propping up the Tories. Currently when Momentum say we are, we can rightly say we are not. This would not be the case if we were in a Confidence & Supply arrangement with the Tories.
    I have no illusions that Lib Dems would be able to change the Labour leadership’s position on a People’s Vote. That would be for Labour to do, either by forcing a change in policy, or a change in leadership. But the same is true wrt the Tories. But there are far more Labour MPs than Tory who are likely to support a People’s Vote, and far more Labour activists than Tories who would support Remain in such a vote. What better way to alienate them than by aligning ourselves with the Tories?

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