20th February 2019 – Briefings

Radical changes are afoot in UK politics
– Cable

Responding to news that three Conservative MPs have left the party to sit with the Independent Group, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“There is clearly some very radical changes now afoot as both the Conservatives and Labour have being taken over by militant groups, driving out more moderate MPs.

“We will hold out the hand of friendship to the independent MPs with whom we already have a good working relationship.

“In the short term we will be concentrating on securing a People’s Vote, with an option to stay in the EU.”


Davey: Sajid Javid has big questions to answer on Shamima Begum decision

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has secured an Urgent Question in the House of Commons this afternoon on the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive Shamima Begum’s British citizenship.

Responding to the Speaker’s decision to grant his application for an Urgent Question, Ed Davey said:

“The decision to strip someone of their citizenship is a very serious one, and the Home Secretary has big questions to answer.

“It’s hard to see how a 19-year-old mother and her new-born baby boy constitute a serious threat to national security. Simply making her somebody else’s problem is an appalling abdication of the UK’s responsibility.

“Ms Begum should be prosecuted in the UK for her crimes and interrogated so that we can learn exactly how ISIL recruits young British people like her.”


Extension of no-fly zone will not prevent future drone chaos

Responding to the Government’s announcement that the no-fly zone for drones around airports is to be extended following the disruption at Gatwick, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

“Extending the no-fly zone to prevent further drone incidents is futile on its own. The drone chaos in the run up to Christmas was caused by someone deliberately flying a drone in the current no-fly zone, showing that what is needed is a complete wholescale reform to regulate the Wild West drone market.

“The Liberal Democrats are clear that there must be compulsory registration for all those owning a drone. It is good that the Conservative Government are finally taking some long overdue action, but a piecemeal approach is not the answer.

“Extending the no-fly zone for drones will not prevent future chaos. We have been raising the dangers that drones pose for years; it is now time the Government did not rely on the airports preparing themselves but enacted significant change with sufficient resources behind it.”




* Cllr. Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner and Op-eds.


  • Vince could do change and us a favour and step down.

  • The Liberal Democrats should be very wary of the Independent Group…how more ground can the party afford to give up.

  • Agree that IG is now more viable than yesterday though still doubt that it would survive an election – yet. Remember the advice about the SDP at birth!! Centrists are not necessarily Liberals, and Liberal Democrat’s fared badly after a centrist spell in government. And Liberals are not all centrists either. That said, if IG comes to benled by someone like Sarah Wollaston it could be much more credible – focused agenda on NHS, infrastructure, education ? All places LDs are not exactly claiming successfully alas

  • David Becket 20th Feb '19 - 4:37pm

    @Silvio. We do not have much ground to give up. Unless we become more inspirational the new group will overtake us, look at today’s picture of 3 ex Tory females and 1 ex Labour looking excited and fresh. What can we offer to match that?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Feb '19 - 4:48pm

    We can offer our individual membership as it starts, we can join as one party as a part of it, be Liberal s and Social Democrats, and One Nation groups in a party to win and govern, it could be possible, see the conference earlier, they, we , have three cheerleaders for progress and mainstream politics, hugely exciting …

  • Richard Underhill 20th Feb '19 - 4:51pm

    Ian 20th Feb ’19 – 3:51pm
    Are you wanting to stand yourself?
    If so, have you ever been chief economist of shell?
    Have you ever fought with Theresa May in Cabinet?
    Could you double the membership again?

  • nigel hunter 20th Feb '19 - 5:25pm

    Javid is just passing the buck and appeasing populism, it makes good headlines.To bring her back will open up the faults made in Prevent etc and cause the Conservatives problems.

  • Paul Barker 20th Feb '19 - 5:40pm

    The situation we find ourselves in now has a lot in common with 1981, then too there was the imbalance between The SDP – new faces to most voters, instant News for the media & the old, familiar Liberals with Members, organisation, experience, lots of Local Councillors. The SDP, with few Members (even fewer with any experience) & little organisation needed The Liberals & The Liberals (on around 12%) needed The SDP. Together they grew very rapidly.
    So do we try to repeat that strategy or do we sign a mutual suicide pact by putting our tiny hands round each others throats ?

  • Absolutely no need for the Independent Group to seek deals with the Lib Dems..the new party will be flush with donor cash and have tonnes of coverage..have people learnt nothing from the last couple of years.. everything has changed..the perception that the Lib Dems are tired and weak has taken hold..worse of all the party has no coverage whatsoever..The Independent Group will be very very bad for the Lib Dems.

  • It looks increasingly likely that radical changes could be afoot – but it is still far too soon to tell whether these developments will ultimately lead to a major realignment in U.K. politics. Many of us have seen this promise evaporate before, so aren’t yet ready to get too excited!

    However, whether the emergence of the TIGs constitutes an opportunity or a threat for the Lib Dems is not necessarily the central question … even for Lib Dems! Surely, the actual values which drive any change – which must be liberal, progressive and internationalist – are more important than the choice of vehicle. So, let’s remain open to the possibilities – but, for now, maintain a watching brief and not get too carried away.

    In the meantime, though, there is an obvious immediate danger that all this feverish speculation about TIGs, etc, provides a massive distraction from the urgent cross-party discussions which should be, and hopefully still are, taking place to stop the U.K. falling off the cliff edge on 29 March. These coordinated efforts must therefore be the top priority for all responsible MPs (including Lib Dems) until the imminent threat of a “no deal” Brexit has been firmly removed.

  • Silvo,
    What could the Lib Dems bring to the dance. Well members, structure and councillors. Forgive me if I fall for the fantasy that this has been long planned. I could of cause be delusional, it happens to us all.

  • John Chandler 20th Feb '19 - 8:34pm

    Looking at the early polls to include the IG, it’s clear the centre ground has a lot of room. Rather than competing with us for votes, they’ve taken a chunk out of Labour, and (interestingly) the Conservatives. Given the polls were conducted before today’s Tory defections, it’ll be interesting to see if they now take another chunk out of the Consevatives.

    There are, of course, arguments to be made about whether those voters should/could have been better engaged by us; whether the polling is a reflection of the novelty of the group; and whether those voters will remain with the IG or it becomes a first step towards exploring other options outside the Red-Blue duopoly (as seems to have happened with some UKIP voters in the past).

  • Chris Rennard 20th Feb '19 - 8:38pm

    I would have us say to all MPs who leave the Lab & Con Parties and join the Independent Group that (providing they are unequivocally pro-EU, and unequivocally pro-constitutional reform), we would ask our local parties to not to oppose them at the next general election.

  • Nom de Plume 20th Feb '19 - 9:12pm

    Not oppose? A bit early for that. If this group establishes itself in areas where the LibDems are not well represented then some sort of agreement, as with the Greens, will be needed for areas where the LibDems are stronger. If the group does not establish itself, the MPs will simply lose their seats – all the more reason for the LibDems to campaign in those areas.

  • Peter Watson 20th Feb '19 - 10:11pm

    John Chandler “Looking at the early polls to include the IG, it’s clear the centre ground has a lot of room. Rather than competing with us for votes, they’ve taken a chunk out of Labour, and (interestingly) the Conservatives.”
    Quoting myself from another thread …

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Today’s YouGov poll shows Lib Dems going from 10% to 7% with a significant transfer of voting intention to TIG while the hit to Labour’s (and the Conservatives’) voting intention seems to be largely to “Don’t know”. (https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/02/20/14-would-vote-independent-group)
    The field work for this poll precedes Conservative MPs joining TIG’s ranks, so I’m sure there’ll be more to come!

  • Nom de Plume 20th Feb '19 - 10:33pm

    @ Peter Watson

    Do not read too much (or anything) into a single poll. On that data, Thresesa May should hold a general election ASAP 🙂

  • Richard Underhill 20th Feb '19 - 11:18pm

    The Independent Group have said that they are not tribal.
    On BBC tv Newsnight today, 20/2/2019, Anna Soubry was asked whether they would approach the Liberal Democrats.
    She said “No, they have to come to us.”
    Tribal? or what?

  • Richard O'Neill 21st Feb '19 - 12:08am

    I’d like to see Cable call for them to stand in by-elections before considering any sort of pact . It would allow them to:

    1) increase their democratic legitimacy (otherwise this will be a constant embarrassment hanging around their necks. Particularly given that the two Tory defectors to UKIP famously did go back to the voters, and won incidentally)
    2) It would allow them to fight these by-elections on the specific platform of holding a second referendum. If there has been the genuine groundswell of support towards the People’s Vote campaign that is claimed, these by-elections would demonstrate it.

    If a cluster of by-elections were held on the same day, it would have the effect of a mini-election not unlike Super Tuesday in the US.

    But not to risk by-elections because they fear they might lose them undercuts their claim of a new politics. Until the TIGs become clearer on this, Cable should avoid making any rash promises.

  • With weeks to go before B-Day and with Brexit being the glue that holds TIG together, forcing parliamentary byelections that would likely happen in the middle of April would just disperse their energy and remove them from having any parliamentary voice, all while making it easier for a hard brexit to be nodded through.

    Regardless of what the Lib Dem response to TIG should be, the idea of them calling byelections in a hurry is entirely counter to what they are trying to do and is being hawked around solely in an attempt to neutralise their momentum.

  • @Jen: well said! However, Richard O’Neill clearly has his own – poorly concealed and strongly pro-Brexit – agenda.

  • Richard O'Neill 21st Feb '19 - 10:04pm

    That’s what baffles me about the timing of this breakaway. Three months ago, it would have made sense. Now it has become a sideshow, drawing focus away from Brexit when the main objective should be preventing a no-deal.

    But having done so, it is vital for them to stand and seek a fresh mandate from voters. For all I disagreed with them, the two Tory defectors to UKIP did stand in by-elections. They won as well, which suggests it isn’t impossible for defectors to retain their seats. But not to do so because it is risky or inconvenient is the sort of thing that adds to the distance between Westminster and the electorate.

    @Sean Hagen
    “However, Richard O’Neill clearly has his own – poorly concealed and strongly pro-Brexit – agenda.”
    Huh? I voted remain last time and, despite my doubts about the wisdom of having a second referendum without any new offer by the EU, would gladly do so again. Any Brexit deal I’d support would be the very softest of exits, with Single Market, and Customs Union, freedom of movement (etc.)

  • @Richard O’Neill:
    Sorry, I obviously misinterpreted the motivation behind your original comment at at 12.08am yesterday.
    I agree with you about the somewhat baffling timing of this breakaway – but, whilst I recognise the democratic case for holding by-elections, I honestly feel that this would be a highly counter-productive distraction any time soon. In your own words (at 10.04pm yesterday evening in reply to Jen), a cluster of premature TIG by-elections would also “become a sideshow, drawing focus away from Brexit when the main objective should be preventing a no-deal”.

  • As they are claiming that they have not left their parties but the parties have left them, which is possibly true, it is not them who should be calling by elections but the rest of the party who should be doing that.
    I note that in a recent Opinium opinion poll 70% of those who claimed to have voted Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru in 2017 think there should be a new centre party compared to 46% who voted Conservative or Labour, 50% who voted UKIP ! and 56% SNP.

    I wonder what those people actually mean by new centre party, especially those who say they voted Liberal Democrat or SNP . We live in interesting times and this will run and run.

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