By Friday, we should be talking about revoking Article 50

Dangerous moments are like buses. You have decades free of them and then loads come along all at once. And every day our country’s future is in the hands of a gruesome coalition of extreme right and left  – the ERG, DUP and the Corbynistas – it gets more and more dangerous as Brexit day just a week on Friday looms.

We’ve kind of running out of road as far as Brexit is concerned. As things currently stand, we crash out without a deal in 10 days’ time.

That’s right. The biggest economic catastrophe ever will be underway next week unless someone does something.

We have constantly been demanding a People’s Vote pretty much since the referendum.

Theresa May has made it clear that isn’t happening.

Our policy passed in York last Saturday was clear:

Conference calls for the Government to revoke the Article 50 notification if the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving (relating to) the negotiated withdrawal agreement one week ahead of the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU.

So, this Friday, we have to start talking about revocation, assuming nothing else changes.

And we have to be quite loud about it. It is a nuclear option, but we’re in the most dangerous moment for our country in 80 years.

I would prefer the democratic symmetry of a People’s Vote. I know that many of my friends are sceptical about it and I loved Alisdair Calder McGregor’s rousing speech in the Europe debate on Saturday when he said that we just had to make this all stop.

I think a People’s Vote could be won.  Without the restraining influence of No 10 and the lack of enthusiasm of the Labour Leadership, the Remain campaign would be free to portray a  hopeful and optimistic alternative to Brexit and after the last two years, boy does the country need that. If we get a long enough extension it is still possible.

But we have to lead the calls to revoke if we are still in the same situation by Friday. It is a mark of incredible shame that this Government could be prepared to lead us into a dangerous no deal situation. They have already conducted themselves with a level of irresponsibility that demeans this country and makes them unfit for office.

I think that if we revoked Article 50, most people would just be relieved it was all over. You might get a few idiots causing trouble, but since when was pandering to the extreme right good or sensible policy?

We need to bring this Brexit story to a close, stay in the EU, and then sort out politics.

That’s quite the to do list, but it’s what our country needs and Liberal Democrats need to step up to it.

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

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  • I started early…

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 11:35am

    There’s little or no sign of any panic in the financial markets. Yields on 5 yr Government bonds are less than 1%.

    This is the price paid by Govt to ‘borrow’ money. So why would anyone lend at that very low rate if there was even a 10% chance of economic disaster?

  • Since most people (remainers and leavers) don’t want May’s deal and the MP’s don’t want to leave without a deal, I think Caron is right. However, “if” Article 50 is revoked, don’t think it’s over, it will be very interesting at the next GE. We will have the Tories, having failed to succeed on what is basically their only policy and a Labour party that is all over the place on Brexit. At last there could be a strong third party and possibly a fourth. Make no mistake the new Brexit party will have massive support and the LibDems could well gain large support from the more moderate Labour and Conservative voters. If you do as well as I think you will in the local elections, you should start pushing for a GE.

  • William Fowler 19th Mar '19 - 11:53am

    I agree Article 50 should be revoked and no more talk about leaving until their is a solution to the NI border but you then have to offer the Leavers something positive to balance the damage done by the hugely inflated population of the UK…

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Mar '19 - 12:30pm

    “The most dangerous moment for our country in eighty years”?
    More dangerous than the days in 1940 when Britain faced the probability of imminent invasion?
    More dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis?
    More dangerous than the worst days of the Northern Irish troubles?

  • John Marriott 19th Mar '19 - 12:32pm

    @Caron Lindsay
    For “we” read the Liberal Democrats. Now, if you change the verb to “postpone” we might something to hang our arguments on. “I think a People’s Vote could be won”. By that remark I assume you mean that another referendum with Remain on the ballot. Yes, it could; but at what cost? ‘Malc’ is right. The campaign could turn out to be very ugly. There are more than just “a few idiots” out there, who have not changed their mind and no amount of fear mongering is likely to convert them. In fact, many are getting pretty sick of the whole thing. So, I’d still rather see whether a soft Brexit comes forward. If not, THEN we may have to ‘ask them people’ AGAIN. As you said, it all depends on where we are “by Friday”, when we might have an idea of what the EU leaders think.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Mar '19 - 12:35pm

    Or how about Lib Dem MPs at least considering the possibility of voting for the deal, as the least worst option?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Mar '19 - 12:40pm

    I’m sure I don’t need to point out that the questions in my first comment are meant to be rhetorical, but the sad thing is that I’m sure some people will reply “yes” to each one.

  • I see no reason to wait until Friday.

  • Mick Taylor 19th Mar '19 - 1:11pm

    Never mind least worst option, May’s deal will be a disaster for the UK. We would be betraying all our futures to vote for such a shambles. The best deal we’re ever going to get is the one we have. Get your head out of the sand Catherine. The referendum was fraudulent, tainted by foreign money and is simply not valid. I hate referendums, but given parliament’s total inability to put Britain first some more democracy is necessary. Let’s remember democracy is a process, not an event. Above all democracy allows people to change their minds. Revoke article 50 NOW. Parliament must use the power it has and save this pathetic government from its own folly.

  • Richard O'Neill 19th Mar '19 - 1:12pm

    Politics is the art of the possible. Where are the votes that will pass revocation through the commons?

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 1:16pm

    Catherine is quite right to pick up on Caron’s comment.

    “but we’re in the most dangerous moment for our country in 80 years”

    80 years ago was March 1939 and we all know what was to follow shortly afterwards.

    I don’t think Caron really means this. I’d put it down to a simple mistake. But it’s not for me to say. If Caron really doesn’t mean it then she should say so herself and correct what she wrote.

    If she doesn’t do this, and after the ‘mistake’ is pointed out, then the implications of what she’s written are just appalling.

  • Peter Watson 19th Mar '19 - 1:25pm

    “Without the restraining influence of No 10 and the lack of enthusiasm of the Labour Leadership, the Remain campaign would be free to portray a hopeful and optimistic alternative to Brexit …”
    The Remain campaign has shown no sign of doing that in the years since the Referendum – even on this site (frankie! 😉 ) – so why should we trust that it would ever do so.

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland “Or how about Lib Dem MPs at least considering the possibility of voting for the deal, as the least worst option?”
    Why? Parliament has already rejected it, twice.

    The least worst option is to withdraw our notice of withdrawal, as it maintains as much of the status quo as is possible after the fiasco of the last few years. It also means the Conservatives fail to deliver and are likely to be much reduced as a political force in this country for years. As has also been pointed out malc, Labour won’t come out unscathed either, so British politics could be in for some interesting times and an opportunity to make some reforms and changes to the way Westminster conducts business.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Mar '19 - 1:37pm

    Every contribution from Catherine is as sensible as can be, even when I do not agree with her, a rare thing, she is measured and responsibility is at the core of her comments.

    Thus Mick is out of touch with the essence of her character and commitment here saying what is said to Catherine, head in the sand, is the approach odd in this party and not common, of people out of touch , Catherine is far from that. She is in touch with people i the real world, as an elected councillor of great respect and understanding of people.

    She is , though Peter Martin might be correct , in that Caron might not mean it to seem this way, correct to point out the overblown rhetoric as to the dangerous state of affairs.

    We have witnessed a horror in New Zealand, contrast that with Brexit, one is farce , the other tragedy. Brexit is stoppable in this sense, it is a decision, and can be changed if the view is there to do so. We can and should get a grip, of ourselves as a nation, and it as a process.

    I would not support the deal, but would support a new approach that honours the referendum desire to take more control of some areas, in a compromise, but this party needs to step up to that or else we are left with business as usual, the duopoly.

  • Interesting observation from Marc. Next GE featuring Brexit Party and a “Moderate” Party. Sounds a bit like the way things have gone in France and Italy in recent years where the “traditional” parties have imploded. Maybe it’s time … ?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Mar '19 - 3:17pm

    David Raw shows, and , though we both disagree strongly from a similar values but different view points, and can rub each other up the wrong and perhaps misunderstood , way, that unity if with diversity, is better than division, but to agree to disagree can be done and with good attitudes to the disagreeing.

    There is far to much at stake in the extremes of our society , to show just the extent of petty antagonism and how little they count for compared to a reach for friendship and cross – party approach, rather than a cross, party approach, always feeling angry with colleagues.

  • Paul Barker 19th Mar '19 - 4:52pm

    I presume that the Financial Markets aren’t spooked by NO Deal because they assume that its been cancelled. The PM solemnly promised The HoC that she will be asking The EU for a delay of several Months at the least & she wouldn’t go back on her word would she ? Business types find it hard to grasp the passion & madness that can seize Politics, they just assume that something will be worked out to avoid disaster.

  • If we were to have another referendum Remain should not be on the ballot paper.
    The choice should be
    (a) Leave with no deal
    (b) Leave with deal.

    You all seem to be forgetting that the reason that we had the referendum in the first place was because the UK REJECTED the so called Deal that David Cameron negotiated with the EU to try and keep us in the EU and prevent us from holding a referendum on our membership in the first instance.

    Time to stop trying to rewrite history, people know what they voted for and it was to leave the EU.

  • David Allen 19th Mar '19 - 7:15pm

    “Politics is the art of the possible. Where are the votes that will pass revocation through the Commons?” Agreed!

    Campaigning for revocation is simply posturing. It won’t happen. But the Lib Dems could go on record as the people who called for it. That would be portrayed by opponents as contempt for the democratic process.

    The EU don’t want No Deal, and May doesn’t want No Deal. The EU is pressuring May to get Brexit sorted. If May cannot get an extension, Cabinet will dump her. May will have to choose between a referendum, a GE, or (at minimum) a customs union. I’d bet on the GE, to be fought as a campaign against “traitor” Bercow and “Brexit sellout” Corbyn. The worst of the three options, in other words. That would of course be typical May!

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Mar '19 - 7:35pm

    People do indeed know how they voted. I have 1500 survey results to look at from Huddersfield and they reflect the actual vote in the area quite well, pretty much in line with the national vote. But we took the trouble to ask the same people how they would vote now, and the result would be 55-45 for Remain. That is exactly in line with the national polls. We also asked about the “best Brexit option”. Overwhelmingly this was to stay in the Single Market, including Freedom of Movement, which we mentioned in the question. The average person wants either Remain or a significantly softer Brexit than the current Labour position. This would be EEA membership which is the waiting room for rejoin. I would accept that, but I am also just booking my ticket to London for the march on Saturday.
    Many people have changed their minds. We should respect that more than opinion on a single day in June 2016. But I am not a fan of revoke. That is a nuclear option only to be deployed in the absence of an extension. Once the destination decided by Parliament is clear (not currently the case), the British People should be asked to confirm their decision. The idea that Remain should not be on the ballot paper, given the considerable evidence that most people now want it, really would be undemocratic.

  • @Andrew McCaig

    ” 55-45 for Remain. That is exactly in line with the national polls”

    Andrew, isn’t that the kind of lead that remain was showing in the polls last time before the referendum? I wouldn’t be taking much comfort from that.
    People vote very differently on the day compared to “snap shot” polls

    “The idea that Remain should not be on the ballot paper, given the considerable evidence that most people now want it, really would be undemocratic.”
    It would be equally undemocratic not to have leave without a deal on the ballot paper wouldn’t you say…..And yet, that’s all we keep hearing from remainers

  • The problem Brexiteers have is they don’t realise they don’t get to pick what Brexit they get, neither would they get to pick what options go on a new referendum. As to putting forward a positive case for Europe, well it tempers the stupidity of our polticians. Now given the stupidity we have endured for two years that is actually a positive thing. Will withdrawing article 50 stop the Brexit bile, no it won’t but passing May’s deal will actually make things worse (round 2 trade talks awaits) and no deal would he even worse. Brexit was a stupid idea to keep the Tories together, there is nothing positive about it, it was a classic case of self harm and we should stop it.

  • I don’t have to point out a case for remain, the case for leave is such a shambles that anything else would look positive in comparison. Brexit has done great harm to this country, justify the damage it has done, alas that is a task beyond anyone. Brexit has made us a laughing stock, no ifs, no buts, tis a fact. Now people might want to tagalong with this clown show, personally I want it stopped. If you don’t stop it well the clown show will go on, wheels will fall of the clown wagon and we will all end up much poorer and angrier.

  • I don’t mind no deal being on the ballot, perhaps the shock of what that decsion would do would be worth the pain. I would however expect a period of silence afterwards from our brave Brexiteer as the cost came due. Cries of they have ruined the NHS, my benefits have been slashed, my pension is worth nothing, I have no job would not be well received from that particular circle.

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 8:08pm

    @Andrew McCaig

    “Many people have changed their minds. We should respect that more than opinion on a single day in June 2016.”

    But would you be saying that if it had been 52:48 the other way? I doubt it !

    The EU establishment, and those who side with them, don’t like democracy very much.

    Especially when it doesn’t go their way!

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 8:18pm

    @ Caron,

    Earlier I just assumed (maybe wrongly?) that you’d blundered badly when you wrote:

    “but we’re in the most dangerous moment for our country in 80 years”

    As both Catherine and I pointed out this, you’re saying that Brexit is now more dangerous for the country than WW2 was at the time.

    Do you really mean this? Yes/No ?

  • @frankie

    “i don’t have to point out a case for remain”
    Indeed, I have never seen you make a single coherent positive case for remain once on here. All you do is resort to childish insults about unicorns and fairies. Do you think your tactics does your cause any good at all, do you really think you will reach out to anyone and change their mind? I am not suggesting for one moment you would change the mind of someone like myself, or Peter, though I am always open to listen to reasoned arguments and debates and am always open to educate myself from other people’s knowledge, however, I am referring to other silent observers of these forums who might stumble across this site looking for answers and opinions.
    What do you think they would be taking away from your comments? I very much doubt they would be forming part of the 55% who Andrew is referring to.

    I for one would be really interested to read a positive post from you, making a passionate, positive and coherant case for staying in the EU detailing what the EU does for the Average Joe in the street and the small business that make up 95% of the UK’s businesses….Over to you…..

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 8:28pm

    @ Paul Barker,

    “I presume that the Financial Markets aren’t spooked by NO Deal because they assume that its been cancelled.”

    Do you? Since when have hard headed finance types tended to work on the basis of assumption. Another explanation is they aren’t much bothered one way or the other. They might consider all this ‘fire and brimstone’ preaching is much more a political issue to sway the masses than an economic one. If they thought their money was at risk they wouldn’t be quite so sanguine about it all.

  • Matt
    Young Francis is just scared and venting his spleen. He seems to genuinely believe economic Armageddon is a about to happen and this mingles with a desire to see who he imagines to be leave voters punished in someway or other. What I find interesting is that some EU supporters sort of gloss over the colossal economic, social, and political failures to arrive at something much worse the plainly failing project is not adhered to!
    Here’s the thing the era they think is worth preserving resulted in their own complete political collapse!

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Mar '19 - 9:45pm

    No. The polls showed a tiny lead for Remain on average on the eve of the referendum, with a big divergence between Internet and phone polls. Many polls during the campaign showed Leave in the lead. Between the referendum and the General Election the polls showed Leave continuing to be in the lead, but since the General Election only two polls out of sixty-three have put Leave in the lead. Referendum polling is much more reliable now than bdfire the referendum because samples can be weighted by referendum vote.
    Alot of the shift is of course younger people coming onto the register. How exactly is their “will” being respected by sticking to a result they could not vote for?

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Mar '19 - 9:56pm

    If Remain had won and Leave voters had immediately campaigned for another referendum (as we know Farage would have done, because he said so) , I certainly would never have accused them of being “undemocratic” or “Enemies of the People”.

    There is however a big difference between continuing a status quo and undergoing radical and disruptive change. People should be really sure they want such an upheaval. Once we are out we will be out for a long time and it is the opinions of the young that we should be paying most attention to because they will be most affected by the decision

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Mar '19 - 9:59pm

    If Leavers can manage to agree on a version of Leave to go on the ballot paper then I am happy for that to go on the ballot paper. Can you tell me what that is?

  • @Andrew McCaig

    “Alot of the shift is of course younger people coming onto the register. How exactly is their “will” being respected by sticking to a result they could not vote for?”

    Andrew. I was born in 1975. Until 2016, I have never had a say on whether I want to be a part of the European Project or not. I am 43 years old and have lived my entire life as a part of a union that is becoming ever closer and in my opinion more dangerous and unstable. I want no part of it. At 43 years old, I am “hopefully” only half way through my life. At this half way stage, I have finally been given the opportunity to vote on what I believe our future should look like, fortunately for me I was on the winning side. So I would ask you, How exactly is my will being respected by not sticking to the result I voted for.
    Is my will worth any less because I am now half way through my life?

  • David Raw. Unlike you, I do know Catherine. Indeed I was her election agent last May. I respect the view she holds, but think it has not taken account of the very real change since June 2016. I believe that like those remainers who think the referendum should be honoured, Catherine hasn’t accepted the wholly dishonest nature of the leave campaign, its finance by foreign enemies of the UK, which in most democratic countries would have had the result struck down in the courts.
    No disrespect here, just hard hitting disagreement.

  • @Andrew McCaig
    “If Leavers can manage to agree on a version of Leave ”

    But Andrew, the same could be said for remainers. Some Argue that the EU needs no reforms, some argue that we should have ever closer union, join schengen, euro etc.
    Lets remind ourselves what even the great Vince Cable said after he lost his seat in the 2015 election
    “There is no great argument of liberal principle for free EU movement; the economics is debatable”
    Of course, he soon had to change his line once he won his seat back and had to tow the party line once more…

    Remainers are not all united on what the EU should look like, just as leavers are not all united on what their version of Brexit is.

    If people were going to be 100% honest with themselves, they would admit, with all the problems that they EU are faced with, there are just as many risks of staying in the project, as there are leaving.
    After weighing up all the pros and cons, I have come to the conclusion that the UK would be best served out where it can work on a global scale, rather than being part of a protectionist group were the loop is getting ever tighter…

  • David Becket 19th Mar '19 - 10:27pm

    A very small country with a record of very poor productivity, an incompetent government and broken political system cast adrift on the global sea with China, USA, Russia, Europe calling the odds better served.
    I suggest not.

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Mar '19 - 10:41pm

    Well, obviously the version of Remain currently on offer (as established by the ECJ) is the status quo, with all the current opt-outs. The EU may evolve in the future and we would have a say in that. Experience shows we would also be able to opt out of things we did not like. “What we like” would be determined rather imperfectly by our undemocratic FPTP system, I concede.
    So I repeat, which version of Leave on the day after we leave are you guys going to agree on?

  • Andrew.

    I cannot comment on what version of leave other brexiters are going to agree on, I can only state what my views are, what I voted for.
    But what I will always maintain is, people knew very well that brexit meant leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, even though some try to profess otherwise..

    Btw, is there a reason you did not respond to my question @ 19th Mar ’19 – 10:02pm in regards to, is my is my will worth any less?

  • @Peter Martin, saying “the biggest crisis since 1939” is not the same as saying “a crisis that is as big as that in 1939.” Think about it.
    @Caron, a serious question: If LibDem policy from Friday is revocation rather than peoplesvote, does that mean we should not go on the PV march on Saturday? Vince urged people from the conference platform to attend the march and there will no doubt be many nice big LD banners and a visible LD presence. But should we cancel our presence, as this is no longer party policy?

  • Peter Martin 20th Mar '19 - 2:57am

    @ Tom,

    I suppose you could argue along those lines. If that is what Caron had said. Your problem is she didn’t. The wording in your quotation marks is yours rather than hers. Your quote isn’t a quote.

    The period of the last 80 years included the start and finish of WW2. There were times too, during the cold war, when we all came much closer to nuclear obliteration than any of us realised at the time. There were several near accidental starts to what would have been WW3. Such as a case of a radar operator in USSR being court-martialled for not reporting what looked like an a number of incoming missiles. It turned out that the blips on the screen were caused by a meteorite shower. He hesistated because he was aware of what doing his job according to the letter of the training manual could actually lead to.

    Sure, there are good arguments for the UK being a member of the EU. Just like there are good arguments for Canada joining up with the USA. But there are arguments the other way too. But some EU-ophiles just can’t see the question in any kind of reasonable perspective. They blow it up out of all proportion.

  • Peter Martin 20th Mar '19 - 3:28am

    @ Matt,

    “But what I will always maintain is, people knew very well that brexit meant leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, even though some try to profess otherwise.”

    That’s correct. It was said often enough. Having said that, there was also an expectation that leaving the EU would mean that we would have to negotiate a new trading arrangement with the EU. This could well have included allowing the UK access to the EU Single Market and at the same time it would have required the UK to maintain similar standards and possibly align tariff rates. No-one would have had any problem with that if it had been part of a wider FTA.

    But we haven’t even started discussing a FTA. The Withdrawal agreement, with the exception of the ‘backstop’ isn’t at all about trade. This is the big problem and it has been completely the EU’s decision to not even start to talk about the details of a FTA. The Govt has been so inept in not standing up to the EU. If the EU didn’t want to talk about trade then that was their decision to make. It should have been our decision to not to want to talk about anything else either.

  • Arnold Kiel 20th Mar '19 - 3:49am

    It is clear now that Brexit must be defeated. Not only is it a destructive act in itself; it would result in a Trumpian UK, led by the worst characters this political system has produced. They will join Trump and Bolsonaro, enter into an even tighter symbiosis with right-wing media, further beat the BBC into submission, and give a free pass to all the world’s thieves, tax evaders and murderers whose money will become the only grease that lubricates the UK’s ever more London-centric economic engine. Social security, broad home-ownership, and universal healthcare will melt away at an accelerated rate. Unlike the US, the UK’s democratic institutions have few structural defences, and are likely to be subverted. The likelihood of a left-wing experiment under Corbyn is rapidly diminishing, unlikely to do much good, and would probably just be a short bump on the road sketched above.

    The political and constitutional collapse we are witnessing now looks like an unavoidable side-effect of the political system sweating-out the Brexit-virus. In reality, it is the survival-fight of your democracy. In contrast to what leavers will tell you, the fight is now Brexit vs. democracy. It is looking better by the day.

    Compared to revocation, a People’s vote is less effective, more costly, more risky, and collides with the European elections. It has the only advantage that it requires less courage from politicians, which, unfortunately, makes it more likely to be happen.

    In any event, go to the march.

  • All of our brave Brexiteers have their own personal Brexit. Glen’s is run away to his little village where the world never enters, Matt’s is what ever gets Brexit over the line, Peter has some weird Lexit which the majority of his new party hate with a vengeance. The only thing that unites them is a rage to get Brexit over the line. They are consumed with Brexit it is the only thing in their lives. The positive case against Brexit is simple, before it consumed all, we could fight for a better NHS, fairness for the oppressed and being a force for good in the world, afterwards all this was gone as Nelly did the Brexit tango over everything. If Brexit passes we face next as Ivan Roger’s said the hard negotiations on trade and our relationship with the EU and the world. Brexit was a mistake and those pushing it have not the wit to see that. Hash on them perhaps but that is how history will see them. As to changing the mind of a Brexiteer, only experience can do that and when it does my how they will squeal, in the mean time they will claim they knew what they voted for but they are in the main delusional.

  • Arnold is of cause right, Brexiteers all have their personal Brexit but they won’t be getting that, they will be getting the Brexit of May and the rest of the Tory party. A hard right Brexit where the poor suffer to bring forth a Ayn Rand wet dream. Many of our Brexiteers are dependent on the generosity of the state, well forget about that under the Empire 2 Tories ad they try to make us a global player. I know they don’t like to accept the truth but all they are, all they have become I’d the handmaidens of Boris et al.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Mar '19 - 9:23am

    Richard O’Neill 19th Mar ’19 – 1:12pm “Politics is the art of the possible”
    No, it is not.
    Consider Labour’s attitude to the Eastbourne bye-election. There had been a Tory majority of 12,000 at the general election. Labour decided to offer a candidate and wanted to save their deposit, but did not expect to win. Our regional executive put £5,000 behind our candidate, a county councillor, HQ did more fundraising promising where it would be spent, the Liberal Democrat News supported strongly and experienced canvassers arrived from across the southeast and beyond. After the result Michael Heseltine challenged Margaret Thatcher for the Tory leadership and she was out.
    Or consider the Ribble Valley bye-election. The Tories had a majority of 19,000 at the general election and advised PM John Major that they could not lose. Labour sent up Shadow Cabinet member John Smith, but a Labour win was considered incredible. “Lancashire folk are not daft, they don’t vote Labour round here.” The press asked our candidate for an interviews and as our new MP he pointed to the size of our majority.
    This is not unique to the Lib Dems. Caroline Lucas became an MEP under PR and an MP under FPTP and provided a unique voice in the Commons.
    Butskellism? Goodbye!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 20th Mar '19 - 9:36am

    David Raw and Lorenzo, thank you so much for your supportive comments.
    I’d just like to make it clear that I was not actually offended by Mick’s comment. I know he did not mean to be discourteous. And in response to David’s comment about Stephen Lloyd, I’m sure Mick would have said exactly the same thing to Stephen Lloyd, or to anyone else expressing similar views, not just me!
    As Mick mentioned, we do know each other in “real life”, and Mick very kindly agreed to be my agent in the Calderdale elections last year, for which I was very grateful. David Raw, to set the record straight I’m afraid Mick did not actually “get me elected”. I’m currently a Councillor on Hebden Royd Town Council, but did not get elected to Calderdale Council. But this was certainly not Mick’s fault. Unfortunately it was a ward, like so many others, which once had three Lib Dem Councillors, but lost the last during the coalition and we now have no immediate chance of regaining it.
    I should mention that in “real life”, Mick has never been in any way discourteous to me. Though we do avoid discussing Brexit in real life! It’s probably the only issue on which Mick and I seriously disagree.

  • Paul Barker 20th Mar '19 - 9:53am

    With May now asking for a delay of 3 Months & The EU demanding a concrete reason for delay another General Election now seems a lot more likely.
    The last Election saw our average support fall from 11% to 7% or possibly lower, the worry is that the same thing might happen again.
    Most of the factors are beyond our control but I can see a couple of things we could do to help ourselves :
    first – position ourselves as the Stop Brexit Party, campaign for immediate revocation of Article 50; the Peoples Vote was only ever a means to an end.
    second, urge TIG to get on with it & urgently hold talks on an Electoral Alliance.

  • Revoking Article 50 should never have been a “nuclear option” for the Liberal Democrats—once it became clear it was legally possible, it should have been the first and only option. Unfortunately too many of us have been blinded by ideas about the sanctity of the Referendum and the propaganda that you can’t challenge the Vox Populi. But referenda are not voces populi, and vox populi is not vox Dei in any case.

    What should be done is that Mrs May should revoke Article 50, resign, and call a GE. If she is unwilling to do this, she should resign in favour of a temporary PM who will revoke Article 50 and call a GE. If she won’t do this, Parliament should pass a no-confidence vote and put in its own temporary PM who will do this.

    The likelihood of any of these things happening is admittedly low, but that does not mean we should not support them.

    We all ought to start by admitting that the likelihood of a crash-out, no-deal Brexit is already well above 50% and is the most likely outcome, and that it is going to take a lot of work across parties in a very short period of time to avert it. Unfortunately, I see almost no evidence that anyone in any party has correctly gauged the danger; everyone seems to hope that ‘something will turn up.’ At this late date, any such “something” would already have been long in evidence.

  • Peter Martin 20th Mar '19 - 1:59pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “Brexit must be defeated……. it would result in a Trumpian UK, led by the worst characters this political system has produced………….Social security, broad home-ownership, and universal healthcare will melt away at an accelerated rate”

    Some (maybe?) obvious points.

    1) The next election possibly won’t be until 2022. So we are stuck, Brexit or no Brexit, with the present Parliament until we elect a new one. Brexit may or may not make a difference to the timing of the election.

    2) The next Parliament will be decided by the UK electorate. Again Brexit may or may not make a difference. We could have ‘Trumpian’ leaders if we stay in. We may not have Trumpian leaders if we leave. Or vice versa. It’s down to the electorate to decide.

  • Yeovil Yokel 20th Mar '19 - 2:14pm

    Methinks it’s time for Brignitas.

  • Peter Hirst 20th Mar '19 - 3:08pm

    I see revocation of Article 50 as keeping in control of the Brexit process as otherwise we risk being sucked into a no deal Brexit. The eu and others are sick to death of how we are dealing with the referendum result. We really need to have another go some years into the future when hopefully we will have learnt the lessons and introduced a constitution that amongst other things will codify how, why and when we conduct referenda.

  • David Allen 20th Mar '19 - 3:30pm

    David-1 said:

    “What should be done is that Mrs May should revoke Article 50, resign, and call a GE. If she is unwilling to do this, she should resign in favour of a temporary PM who will revoke Article 50 and call a GE. If she won’t do this, Parliament should pass a no-confidence vote and put in its own temporary PM who will do this.

    The likelihood of any of these things happening is admittedly low, but that does not mean we should not support them.”

    Well, it’s not just unlikely, it’s totally implausible, that May will revoke or help someone else to revoke. But David-1’s third step suggestion – that Parliament should now pass a no-confidence vote – is a lot more credible. Why don’t we scream at Corbyn that he needs to call a NC vote and that we will support it?

    The EU seem set to refuse TM her extension, because she cannot provide a justification for one. If the ERG and DUP continue to vote “confidence” in TM but simultaneously vote No to her Deal, their behaviour will be demonstrably wildly irresponsible. At that point, the Ken Clarkes and the Antoinette Sandfords will face a stark choice – Bring down May by voting No Confidence, or let No Deal happen. They could, and should, vote to end May’s government and force a GE. At which point, the EU will grant an extension.

  • Laurence Cox 20th Mar '19 - 5:53pm

    I hope that the Lib Dems, Greens, SNP and PC have an agreed person ready to become temporary PM. We cannot have a Tigger because they would be toxic to Labour or Tories and Corbyn as someone who has espoused Brexit in the past is as untrustworthy as May.

  • Andrew McCaig 20th Mar '19 - 7:25pm

    There is a lot of wild stuff being said on here by Lib Dems (I do not count our resident brexiteers who share our environment for some reason).

    Our policy has been another referendum since 2016. That is because it is the only way a referendum result can possibly be overturned with anything other than small minority support. Revoke to stop a hard Brexit (if that is the only way) is a reasonable position, but only in order to have another referendum.
    But revoke is something that would destroy the Tory Party, which is why there is no way it will happen with the current Parliament. As said above, a General Election could allow revoke, and we could possibly campaign for it, but the most Labour will go for is a People’s Vote, and even that would split the Labour Party, with quite a number of Labour MPs voting against the Wollaston amendment.
    The sad reality is that another GE would be a repeat of 2017 for us, I fear, whatever our policy. A euro election on the other hand would be a great opportunity.

    We should also bear in mind that we are about to go into local elections where any gains in most parts of Britain will depend on the votes of Leave voters. Sticking to our current position of a People’s Vote will be seen as consistent, but hardening to an ultra Remain position will be seen as another broken promise and we know what happens when we do that. The way that you do politics is as important as the end result, and we should have learned that lesson

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Mar '19 - 7:47pm

    @ Matt, @ Glenn,
    If a compromise could be reached, would you, as firm leavers, accept a Common Market 2.0 ?

  • @Jayne Mansfield

    I would need assurances that
    (1) we would be leaving the CAP and CFP
    (2) We would be totally free to strike trade deals with other countries around the world
    (3) The UK had full control to apply the emergency break on immigration and did not have to seek permission from the EU

  • sorry
    (4) That the UK would not have to contribute to bailout the Euro or another EU country should another crisis occur

  • Malcolm Todd 21st Mar '19 - 3:23pm


    When you mean “no”, just say “no”. Your four points amount to a negation of the whole dam’ point of the Common Market, even if rewinding to the 1970s made sense.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st Mar '19 - 3:35pm

    For these berating my analogies, what I was actually thinking about when I wrote this was the abdication.

    However, we should be very wary of the climate of demonising others, claims to represent the will of the people, parliament vs government conflicts etc. There are all sorts of red flags here and we could end up in a very bad place indeed unless we take action to heal the divisions in our society and sort our democracy out.

  • Peter Hirst 21st Mar '19 - 6:32pm

    We need to combine calling for revocation with an understanding and actions to ease the reasons the referendum was lost and an undertaking to consider another referendum in about five years time under improved processes, stricter supervision and enhanced electorate.

  • Edwin Poultney 22nd Mar '19 - 1:48am

    Having signed up for the Article 50 Revocation Petition on Wednesday night when it was highlighted by someone on the Telegraph Website, I wound up a Brexit supporter who said it would be lucky to ever reach 1.74 Million let alone 17.4 Million by saying it would reach a Million by Parliament convening tomorrow and the silent majority would pull the plug on Tory Brexit Fantasy. However I was surprised the BBC gave so much coverage on the Petition the next morning (even interviewing the lady who started it whilst she was on holiday in Cyprus) , the Government Website continually crashed with numbers signing up all day. Disappointed that Green and SNP areas had better numbers than Lib Dem. Even brought up twice by SNP in Parliament, the Leader of the House gave a dismissive response that they would take notice when it reached 17.4 Million. It had passed 2 Million by tonight but the website was no longer counting. I do however agree that a 2nd Referendum would be preferable. I responded to a Telegraph Article on How Mrs May could get a Third Vote on her deal by saying she could always give the Third Vote to the Electorate but they know that Brexit does not now hold a majority and her version was far worse than the status quo and would not get 25% support in the UK.

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