Author Archives: Vince Cable

Vince Cable writes: Why are Brexiteers so scared of the people?

Liberal Democrats are united on Europe. We strongly believe that Britain is better off as a full member of the European Union. I am proud of this stance, and continue to argue for an ‘exit from Brexit’. The European Union has been a project of huge economic and social success, fostering prosperity and maintaining peace on a continent historically ravaged by division and war. I want Britain to remain. The Liberal Democrats are the party of Remain.

Meanwhile, even the spectre of leaving is doing great damage. Parliament has been asked to confer huge new power on Government – far from ‘taking back control’ as the country was promised. Already our economy is being jeopardised by the huge devaluation in the pound, which is pushing up prices and leaving British companies vulnerable to takeovers. An exodus of highly skilled European workers puts public services at risk too.

As a party, we acknowledge the result of the 2016 referendum, which gave the Government a mandate to start negotiations to leave. Yet it becomes clearer by the day that we were absolutely right to argue the negotiations would never deliver the promises of the Leave campaign. When the true scale of that failure is known, the public must get a first referendum on the facts. I believe they will demand it. And there will be no deal on offer which is better than staying in the European Union.

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Vince Cable writes: What Brexit means

 

I appreciated the large response to my post-referendum blog on the 48 Movement.  The Bank Holiday Sunday press reminds us that this issue will very soon return with a vengeance as the politicians come back from their holidays.  The Brexit hardliners in the Tory party are already preparing their narrative of betrayal by Remainer ministers and sabotage by civil servants.

When I wrote my note there was agreement on many points, not least the negative impacts which still await us, but two things I said triggered a negative reaction.  One was my argument that the result was final and could not be wished away by legal subterfuge or attempts to reverse the vote.  I see that  Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest is arguing for a re-run through a second referendum and that position appeals to many in our own party.  There will be debate on this issue at Conference. Since, unlike Labour, we have nothing to prove on the EU issue I hope we can be more realistic.  The most recent polls show that almost all Brexit voters and half of Remainers accept the result however much we deplore it.  Shock, anger and remorse are very understandable but not if these harden into the conviction that the majority of voters are gullible fools.

The second point of controversy was my view that the free movement of EU labour should not be regarded as an inviolable principle, but is now politically unsustainable and of questionable merit when at the expense of non-EU migration.  There are better ways of being liberal on immigration: opposing the self-harming stupidity of the current ‘crack-down’ on overseas, non-EU, students to help Theresa May meet her absurd target; defending the position of EU nationals who are already resident here; promoting a less pusillanimous approach to refugees, as Tim Farron has been doing.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Vince Cable writes…The birth of the 48 movement

For our party and its supporters in the country the last few years have brought one defeat after another:  local councils, devolved government, national government, AV referendum, now the EU referendum.  There is a limit to the number of times a boxer can climb back up off the floor.  What fortifies me is the adage that winners are losers who never give up.  And perhaps we should think bigger: not as a small party with an 8% core vote but the centre of gravity of a broad movement of 48% of voters who chose Remain.

The first step in responding to defeat has been to look for scapegoats: the people who led a poor and failing campaign.  Cameron has gone and (hopefully) Corbyn and Osborne are going.   But in truth the Remain campaign as a whole failed to grasp the strength of the opposing coalition: not just conservative pensioners who want the past back but the’ left behind ‘who have suffered declining living standards and public services, the Commonwealth voters who felt Europe was at their expense and many who felt this was the best way to give an unpopular and unrepresentative government a good kicking.

That is why we have to approach the result with some humility.  There is nothing to be gained by denial: crying foul. We wuz robbed, ref.  I see petitions demanding a re-run, legal challenges and appeals to parliament to ‘do something’.  Dream on.  Of course the Leave campaign was mendacious; of course the referendum shouldn’t have happened; of course parliament was negligent in not building in thresholds. But the public was clearly told by both sides that the result would be final. And there was a big turnout.  That is it..

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 132 Comments

Vince Cable writes…Where we can all agree on Syria

The political debate on Syria has produced a bewildering array of people proceeding from the same premises to opposite conclusions and from different premises to the same conclusions.   We have an ‘anti-war’ coalition which unites Nigel Farage, David Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP, the Greens and the Mail and the ‘pro-war’ camp includes the Tory government, a sizeable chunk of the parliamentary Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Financial Times and the Indy.

At recent party events I have attended there is disquiet and confusion.  I see that two thirds of Lib Dem Voice readers oppose the British air strikes. Veterans of Iraq war marches ask why we are not marching again to recapture one of the party’s finest hours.  I share some of the confusion no longer having the benefit of participating in discussions amongst parliamentary colleagues. I have had the benefit of Cabinet-level briefings, which led me to endorse air strikes 18 months ago; but much has changed since.

It would be useful to identify a series of propositions on which I believe most reasonable people, on either side of the debate, can agree.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 40 Comments

Vince Cable writes… Osborne’s deep cuts are damaging and ideological

It is encouraging to be part of a Lib Dem chorus from across the party denouncing Osborne’s damaging, ideologically inspired, proposals for further deep cuts in spending on public services throughout the next Parliament.

Being in coalition means that we have to go out of our way to differentiate ourselves clearly from the Tories on the central issue of economic policy. The Tories want to create an election narrative of Tory competence versus Labour incompetence (with the LibDems portrayed either as marginal to the story or cheering the Tories on). Next week’s parliamentary debate on a fiscal charter makes the issue of differentiation particularly topical.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 35 Comments

Vince Cable writes… Remembering Alan Turing

IMG_0923Today sees the general release of the film The Imitation Game, a dramatic portrayal of the life and work of Alan Turing.

By all accounts the film, with the leading role played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is set to be a great success. Oscars are already being talked about.

But why am I drawing attention to this specific film?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Vince Cable writes…Strengthening confidence in the UK’s takeover laws

London Stock Exchange photo by Jam_90sThe attempted but abortive Pfizer takeover bid for AstraZeneca has triggered a timely political debate in the UK about whether the safeguards in mergers and takeover legislation are adequate – especially when significant research and development assets are at stake.  It is now clear to me that some changes should be made.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 3 Comments
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