Could Labour back May’s deal?

Jeremy Corbyn is about to run out of road. He has to pick a side now. Does he go with the majority of his party and back a People’s Vote or does he enable a Tory Prime Minister to inflict a hard Brexit on the country by backing her deal.

Theresa May’s tweet about her meeting with Corbyn yesterday was interesting:

The 29th March date now looks to be a bit fluid as senior Conservatives seem to be coalescing around a delay of a couple of weeks. But if May doesn’t deliver Brexit in short order, she’s toast. And Corbyn wants it over as quickly as possible so his party stops banging on about a People’s Vote.

And when May met Lib Dems, it was Vince, Tom Brake and Alistair Carmichael who were in those meetings. Because it makes sense to have your Brexit spokesperson involved.

But Corbyn didn’t take Kier Starmer for his meeting with the PM. He took two members of his inner circle. HIs direction of travel is clear – out of the EU. And his mindset in not punishing those who voted with the Government when pro single market shadow ministers had to resign in earlier votes shows where his heart lies.

Robert Peston seems to think Corbyn could whip Labour MPs into backing a Brexit deal:

For what it’s worth, my understanding is that Corbyn sees the failure to secure a majority yesterday of the Cooper and Grieve motions – and Labour’s own one, which explicitly mentions the possibility of a referendum – as proof that MPs really don’t want a People’s Vote.

Even more striking is that those close to Labour’s leader tell me they can indeed envisage a moment in the coming weeks when it will be official Labour policy to vote for a Brexit plan.

Those at the top of Labour, and in the grassroots, who want a referendum should fear they are being properly outmanoeuvred.

If Theresa May can’t get the ERG onside, she will need more than the 14 Labour MPs who voted with her on Tuesday night. The hard core of Corbyn loyalists might just pull her through, even if the moderate Labour MPs defied the whip.

Those moderate  MPs might just think they have nothing to lose if they chose country over party. According to Steve Hawkes of the Sun, Labour is in purging mood. Sitting MPs face reselection fights, which would be used as an excuse to provide Corbyn with a parliamentary party that actually supported him.

May is also making overtures to Labour MPs, getting the pork barrel out and making overtures about workers’ rights and environmental protections.

But Jo Swinson is rightly sceptical about the Tories’ commitment to workers’ rights:

All MPs will need to have a long hard look at their options. The Deal or any future version of it that doesn’t involve the single market and the customs union is really bad. No deal would be catastrophic, although I suspect it is being talked up to intimidate MPs into backing the deal. No responsible government would plunge us into that sort of chaos, surely?

It seems unlikely that Labour MPs could be whipped to support a deal, but it could happen. However, Corbyn and May could just rely on Labour’s Brexiteers to do the job for them. And the deal they would be backing, with the ERG and DUP on board, would be really bad news.

But they could be beaten. There will be MPs, both Labour and Conservative who have followed their whips with increasing reluctance over the last 2 years, from the votes on Article 50, to the EU Withdrawal Bill to the Deal and the various amendments. If they took the sensible course and backed a People’s Vote, they, along with us and  Caroline Lucas, the SNP and Plaid could still win the day.

Let’s hope that common sense prevails.

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • We should have expected Labour’s endgame to be more byzantine than that of the hapless Conservatives. A party that sees John Mann as leader of one of its own factions is in serious trouble. If they decide on Brexit collusion with Mrs May, knowing that her deal will make the poorest poorer, every Labour MP who goes along with it should be named and shamed at every opportunity, should they be standing again at the next General Election.

  • Phil,
    MP’s are elected as representatives of the electorate not delegates. I fear you fail to understand that. Perhaps the quote by Edmund Burke might help

    Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion. Edmund Burke

    If you require any further help in understanding a representative democracy please just ask.

  • Corbyn is a protectionist and a socialist little Englander. And he is reliant on the Hoeyite Northern seats – where many voters are simply nationalist social conservatives – but would never vote Tory and hate free markets, liberal economics and globalisation.

  • Colin Paine 31st Jan '19 - 9:32pm

    Totes agree with Stimpson, great post!

  • Why are you constantly blaming Corbyn ? He wants out of the EU and has dedicated his whole political life to this end. At least he is being true to his beliefs. Why should he support Remain ? He is philosophically against the EU and sees it as a capitalist imperialist club.

  • Arnold Kiel 31st Jan '19 - 9:38pm

    If one wants Brexit, then May’s “deal” is entirely ok. It just buys entry to and blocks exit from the real negotiation phase (extendable) without specifying anything. The NI backstop is a blown-up problem, especially given Labour’s Brexit-plan. It is therefore logical that Labour’s critique of the withdrawal agreement is unconvincingly artificial and besides the point. In consequence, it is also ineffective. What surprises me is that Corbyn has either given up on becoming PM (preferring Brexit instead), or sees his best chances after March 29. I think he would be wrong here and still believe his best chance of becoming PM is by derailing May’s government (neccessarily incl. Brexit) now. Here is why:

    Once the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the HoC, the chance for a snap election falls significantly (no more Tory rebellions, and a temporary economic stabilisation). The remain-motive will not support Labour anymore, and leavers will continue to trust the Conservatives to deliver. I also doubt that compounding economic hardship during the phase 2 negotiations in a global downturn will lift Labour’s poll ratings. The main reasons will be irreversible or external, and embarking on a debt-financed spending-spree will increasingly lose credibility with voters. Once Brexit is irreversible, the Torys can rebuild their reputation for competent economic management quickly, while Corbyn and MacDonald continue to undermine theirs. Peak Corbyn is already behind us and will continue to fade until 2022.

    His only chance of ever becoming PM is in the coming 4 weeks.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Jan '19 - 10:53pm

    @ LibDemer,
    “Why are you constantly blaming Corbyn?”

    Because the Liberal Democrats are now a party of Conservative facilitators and enablers.

  • It would be an interesting position for a Labour leader to back a deal which the Trade Union Congress has said today comes “nowhere close” to offering the safeguards desired for working people.

    To back a deal wanted by arch-right-wingers such as Rees-Mogg while they salt their money away off-shore.

    To back a deal that rather than supporting public services, today it was revealed is already costing them £17 billion a year.

    Perhaps he needs to find a backbone. Has anyone seen one? Maybe on a bus, or a bookshop or in a café?

    We now need to be campaigning hard in our constituencies against both Labour and Tory MPs. It is outrageous that we now have a Tory health secretary boasting of spending unnecessary billions on things like fridges rather than curing people of cancer.

  • Short answer. No. Longer answer. Not backing the Tories is almost a defining characteristic because of who votes Labour. The Lib Dems made the mistake of thinking seats with lots of low income voters they picked up in the Blair years who get clobbered every time the Tories are in power would be amenable to the coalition. The Lib Dems have got to get over the idea that Labour and the Tories are really part of a club. Brexit/Europe is not the big issue for Labour whereas it is the defining issue of The Conservative Party’s internal struggles. People with not much money vote labour. The Blair years were the high watermark of the “centrist” end-of-history global consensus. The banking collapse, austerity and an unpopular set of wars killed it stone dead. We’re back to the politics of the haves and the have nots. I suspect Labour are calculating that if May scrapes a win it will resurrect UKIP or something like it and split the Tory vote but not the Labour vote. You can win a general election on around 35-37% of the electorate
    Youngsters did not vote Labour last time as a proxy for Europe. They did it because student debt, rent, the gig economy, low wages and other day to day concerns trump it.

  • The Lib Dems must campaign against both parties as both parties are a threat to our global liberal values. If Labour was to ditch Corbyn, back Remain, ditch left wing economics, support migration and jettison the trade unions, then we may be able to work with it – say if Chukka was leader and the party became centre right economically, Europhile, global and socially liberal.

    Until that happens Labour are just as much of a problem as the Tories.

    Personally I wish Vince would stand up and denounce the far left economic policies that Corbyn is putting out – for example renationalisation, rent controls, trade union power and protectionism. The Lib Dems cannot win whilst significant sections of the electorate actually think that rail renationalisation is a good thing, think house prices are too high and think that the likes of G4S, Uber, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are evil.

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '19 - 7:28am

    @Stimpson “if Chukka was leader and the party became centre right economically, Europhile, global and socially liberal …”
    … then why would even 9% of the electorate want to vote Lib Dem any more?

  • I suppose a lot of pantomimes continue into February. The evidence is that we are going to get some version of the Prime Ministers plan one way or another. The withdrawal agreement, or lack of agreement will be followed by a negotiation on our future relationship with the EU. If there is chaos caused by the events after the end of March there will be huge pressure for quick agreement. So we will have the present plan, and whatever detailed long term arrangements which have been written over the last two years on the table. Everyone will agree.
    In the meanwhile decision making in government has been put on hold for two years, and the Prime Minister has survived one month at a time. It would make a good farce on TV but is not the best way to run a country.

  • Stimpson, I was nodding at the start of your comment, and absolutely we shouldn’t be afraid to call out the Tories or Labour for their more troubling policies, but by the end you want to turn Labour into the Tories. I agree, we’d need Corbyn to go and for them to be more outward looking etc, but you think they need to ditch the trade unions?

    While I’m not happy with the entirety of Labour’s relationship with all trade unions (mainly those such as RMT), I’m a member of a union myself, as are many sensible voters, existing LibDem members and those we could attract if we were better at getting our message across. Done well, unions are an important and useful means to improve how businesses work, and aren’t just about workers’ rights, although that is no bad thing.

    And house prices are far too high in comparison with wages, and there are some considerable problems with how organisations such as Uber operate.

    Perhaps you are operating on a different left-right scale to me, and it’s not a particularly helpful description of the entirety of political views, but IMO, the core of the Tory party is usually Centre-right. I know the extreme Corbynista’s think that anyone who isn’t in exact agreement with them is a Tory, but the reality is that most moderate Tories are already in favour of things like the NHS, gun control and anti-capital punishment and the various other values that aren’t shared with those further to the right. I describe myself as centre-left, albeit with a variety of caveats, so as much as I do respect the likes of Chukka right now, I wouldn’t be voting for him if he were to lead a centre-right party.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Jan ’19 – 10:53pm…Because the Liberal Democrats are now a party of Conservative facilitators and enablers…………

    Maybe not the whole party but, certainly, LDV…I wonder if the authors of these threads actually read what they have previously written?
    Days ago Corbyn was wrong for not meeting May; today he’s wrong for meeting her. As for her statement giving any sort of an insight to what was actually said at the meeting? In what way was ‘it interesting’? A more bland, non-committal statement would be hard to find.

  • “Why are you constantly blaming Corbyn?” Because he is constantly wrong – as most of my Labour-voting friends agree. Labour should be way ahead in the polls, but would likely lose a GE tomorrow under his leadership.
    Criticising Corbyn doesn’t make anyone a ‘Tory enabler’. Corbyn is the best enabler they have as he will guarantee the Tories stay in power.

  • Cassie 1st Feb ’19 – 9:02am………………“Why are you constantly blaming Corbyn?” Because he is constantly wrong – as most of my Labour-voting friends agree. …………

    Your post reminds me so much of my ‘Leaver’ friends’ arguments about the evils of the EU; generalisation. What, apart from his not following every nuance of LibDem policy on Brexit, do you dislike; his policy on homelessness, housing, welfare (UC), schools, taxation, etc.?

    I’m sure your Labour friends are those who didn’t want him as leader, tried to remove him and, in the run up to the 2017 election, spent as much time criticising him as did the Tories? Strange how, with everything against him, this ‘Tory enabler’, cost May her majority and came within a whisker of a win; just imagine what he might have achieved with their support?

    BTW…After the LibDem stint in the coalition, how anyone could mention ‘Tory enabling’ is beyond me.

  • Not sure where to put this, but terribly sad to record the death of Jeremy Hardy. A breath of fresh air and radical honesty in an often cruel world.

    RIP Jeremy.

  • David Raw
    Amen to that. Today’s politicians, especially his fellow socialists, could always learn from Jeremy’s language and sense of fun. A great loss.

  • David Raw 1st Feb ’19 – 10:25am…..Not sure where to put this, but terribly sad to record the death of Jeremy Hardy. A breath of fresh air and radical honesty in an often cruel world.

    RIP Jeremy……

    Hear, hear. A sad loss; 57 is no age at all…

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Feb '19 - 11:22am

    @ Cassie,
    Constantly wrong.

    So your Labour supporting friends were in favour of the Iraq war were they?

    The government that brought us the referendum ( and according a report of a conversation Cameron had with Donald Tusk to Donald Tusk, Cameron did not expect to win the 2015 election and believed that he would once more be in coalition with the Liberal DemocratsLiberal Democrats who would block it.

    ‘Cameron did not think that EU referendum would happen’ The Guardian January 21st 2019.

    And those of us watched the way the Liberal Democrats conducted themselves in that election were in no doubt that the leaders would of course, had the numbers be right, put the “national Interest’ before party.

    I am not a Corbyn fan club member, but I remember a time when it was Conservative philosophy that the Liberal Democrats opposed and a time when it was members of the Young Liberals who were dismissed as ‘Communists’.

    Yes, I am wrong to make generalisations given that I tend to gain information regarding the Liberal Democrats on here. However, when I do read any other articles where your party is mentioned I note the same diversion from a focus on the party of Government who have caused this Brexit mess and its social consequences.

    By criticising Corbyn, what do they hope to achieve? There is a battle of ideas in the Labour Party and it is the fight that is taking place within the party which will determine the ultimate outcome.

  • Joseph Bourke 1st Feb '19 - 12:03pm

    Jeremy Corbyn is doing what the leader of a Labour party should do. I welcome a clear distinction between the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour based on the competing philosophies of Social Liberalism, one nation conservatives and trade union based socialism. There need to be clear and opposing choices in elections rather than slight deviations to the left or right of the centre ground.
    Sad news about Jeremy Hardy. 57 is barely middle-age these days. One of the good guys in modern day Britain.

  • I do not want Labour to become the Tories. The Tories are not socially liberal, have anti-immigration views, are wedded to parochial institutions, and have a deep undercurrent of unpleasantness throughout them. That does not mean that failed economic leftism is a valid ideology.

    As for trade unionism, employees associations are one thing, but unions another. I have no problem with an association working with business when business wants to change things – for example arranging retraining if jobs are offshored. However to oppose the offshoring itself and call strikes is totally unacceptable. And even the more moderate trade unions still take a line that economic liberalism and globalised labour markets are a bad thing – thus making them as protectionist as the militant ones in ideology.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Feb '19 - 12:50pm

    “I have no problem with an association working with business when business wants to change things – for example arranging retraining if jobs are offshored. However to oppose the offshoring itself and call strikes is totally unacceptable.”

    Why shouldd employees, whether in staff associations, trade unions or whatever, not be entitled to oppose offshoring? Or do you start from the position that management of business can never be faulted – and never makes bad decisions?

  • In 2015 the following was said

    At today’s New Statesman fringe at the Lib Dem conference (on what the EU referendum means for workers), TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady observed: “This is the last Lib Dem fringe I’ll be able to address before people who exercise their democratic right to strike in this country are forced to wear armbands, have their Facebook and Twitter accounts trawled and hand over their names and telephone numbers to the police. I’m going to enjoy this while I can but, again, I would like just to put on record my thanks to the Lib Dem MPs and others who have helped us in challenging what is a deeply, deeply illiberal piece of legislation.
    In response, fellow panellist Nick Clegg said he shared O’Grady’s “dismay” at the trade union bill, which he denounced as “gratuitous, unjustified, disproportionate and, from my point of view, recycling lots and lots of measures that I consistently blocked within government.””

    While Stimpson may wish to ban Trade Unions, that is not Lib Dem policy. Now I know many people will try to use Stimpson to beat the party “Stimpson has said” they will chant, but Stimpson is not a spokesman for the party as I have repeatably said “Stimpson speaks only for Stimpson”.

    As to stop attacking Jeremy, why if believe he is wrong we should state he is and explain why he is. I know pointing out St Jeremy’s decline upsets many of our Labour voting posters, but an unfortunate fact is Saint Jeremy is getting less popular by the day and much as our esteemed Labour posters may disagree I really don’t think this is the fault of the Lib Dems, look a little closer to home my dear Labourites.

    Only 25% of voters thinks Jeremy Corbyn is decisive, according to a survey, down from 31% in October. The Labour leader’s fall to his lowest score at any point since the 2017 general election came despite most voters seeing the Tory party as divided following a week of Brexit infighting.

    Corbyn also recorded his lowest score for being trustworthy and someone that sticks to his principles, according to an Opinium poll of 2,016 adults online on 13 and 14 December, falling below the prime minister.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Feb '19 - 3:07pm

    @Jayne Mansfield: If the Liberal Democrats were “a party of Conservative facilitators and enablers”, then surely we would have entered into some sort of deal to keep the Tories in government after Theresa May lost her majority in the 2017 election. The Parliamentary arithmetic certainly allowed for it. But we refused to facilitate or enable her, which is why it’s the DUP doing that job.

  • Many of the above comments reveal yet another spate of Lib Dem vs Labour tribalism (and vice versa). The sad truth, however, is that BOTH our parties are, at least partly, to blame for collusion with the Tories.

    We Lib Dems need to admit (at least to ourselves) that it was a mistake to enable so much of the Tory austerity programme during the 2010-15 Coalition Government. Yes, we did block or dilute some of their more extreme proposals, but we should have resisted much more strongly, e.g. on NHS reforms, Bedroom Tax, Universal Credit, etc, etc.

    However, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is now clearly positioning itself to block its own members’ support for a ‘People’s Vote’ and instead to enable a version of Tory Brexit – which, in all likelihood, will prolong austerity and make it even worse.

    So, both parties (Labour and Lib Dems) can continue to hurl accusations at each other – with varying degrees of justification – or face up to their own specific failures of responsibility.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Feb ’19 – 11:22am……[email protected], Yes, I am wrong to make generalisations given that I tend to gain information regarding the Liberal Democrats on here. However, when I do read any other articles where your party is mentioned I note the same diversion from a focus on the party of Government who have caused this Brexit mess and its social consequences…..

    Jayne, my comments on ‘generalisation’ were addressed to Cassie 1st Feb ’19 – 9:02am…

    When asked for their reasons for Leaving my Brexiteer friends never, ever, give specific EU laws, policies, etc. …Cassie says much the same; hence my request for those Corbyn policies which fill her with horror.

  • Peter Hirst 1st Feb '19 - 6:47pm

    As well as putting forward our own policies, we should attack the other two Parties as one; by showing them as united we can put forward a progressive alternative and give the electorate nowhere else to go.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Feb '19 - 7:45pm

    @ Sean Hagan,
    Labour party members are not hostages. They are at liberty to leave the party and join the Liberal Democrats if they feel that the party is blocking their support for a ‘Peoples Vote’ and this has either primacy or an urgency that supersede other considerations.

    I suspect that any tribalism is confined mostly to activists. Amongst others , tribal loyalties have weakened or are non-existent. Many of us are content to change political allegiance when there is the choice of a party that more closely reflects one’s own world view and desire for political change.

    I agree with Joseph Bourke.

    @ expats,
    Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

    Jeremy Hardy is a sad loss. I am so pleased to see so many tributes pouring in.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Feb '19 - 8:47pm

    @ Alex Macfie,
    We have had this disagreement before.

    So are you saying that Cameron’s confidence was simply hubris. That if, as seemed possible, his party would have no overall majority following the 2015 election, his confidence that he would be in another coalition with the Liberal Democrats was misplaced?

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Feb '19 - 10:17pm

    Jayne: ‘Many of us are content to change political allegiance…’ Really? I should have thought the majority of committed Labour Party members were as likely to ‘change allegiance’ as supporters of particular football teams. Certainly I read much about Labour MPs and councillors being frequently in fear of deselection by their Momentum or Leave-voting local parties. I fear that Sean Hagan is right (again !) in suggesting that the Corbyn-led Labour Party may be ‘positioning itself to block its own members’ support for a People’s Vote’. But this being the present threat, Sean, I don’t think there is much time to muse on our own previous failings.

    I agree with Peter Hirst that we can attack the other two major parties as one – both sets of leaders appear more concerned with their own futures than with the country’s absolute need for an end to this self-harm.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Feb '19 - 10:56pm

    @Jayne Mansfield: I’m not talking about 2015, I’m talking about 2017. Not the Lib Dem party led by Nick Clegg, defending its record as a junior coalition partner, but the party led by Tim Farron — which had been in opposition and entered the election campaign saying it would not go into coalition or similar arrangements, and after May lost her majority stuck to that promise by refusing to prop up her minority Tory government, even though we could have done by the arithmetic. Whatever you think of the party’s record in the Coalition, it’s the past; the leadership is different, and following the 2017 election the party still rules out coalition or propping up a minority government, with either big party.

    And for someone who claims to be “not a Corbyn fan club member”, you seem unable to accept any criticism of him, saying anyone who does criticise him is a Tory. And you seem to happily swallow Corbynista propaganda lines, such as the one about the Tories being “Tory-enablers”, even though they refused to enable the present Tory minority government.

  • David Allen 2nd Feb '19 - 12:58am

    “The Deal or any future version of it that doesn’t involve the single market and the customs union is really bad.”

    Two points:

    It’s Barnier’s Deal. All May has done is to accept it (and then flirt with rejecting it, but that won’t last!) It is now what the EU have definitively decided we should get.

    The Backstop effectively mandates permanent membership of the Customs Union. That is what will happen if the Backstop is invoked. The Backstop will be invoked unless we agree something else with the EU. The EU will be able to insist that that “something else” must include membership of the CU. They have concealed, within the word “Backstop”, a cunning plan to make sure they get that outcome, without making it too obvious to Brexiteers.

    So – How bad is Barnier’s Deal, really?

    Sure, it takes care to put the UK at a disadvantage over various secondary issues, following the (reasonable) EU logic that if you leave the golf club, you have to be given less opportunities to use the golf course. But basically, it’s a fairly soft Brexit. We won’t be allowed to mess around making independent trade deals which would hurt the EU and hurt Britain too. We’ll have plenty of time to find out that losing the single market was a bad idea and that scrapping free movement won’t do much to cut immigration. Things will calm down, disaster will be averted, although there will be lots of niggling ongoing problems outside the EU. Momentum may well develop for rejoining.

    So it’s stick or twist. Stick with this mediocre hand Barnier has dealt, or twist with a People’s Vote for triumph or disaster. A hard choice. It’s Labour MPs who will make the choice.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Feb '19 - 8:22am

    David Allen,

    you are absolutely right in the one scenario in which the UK over time sees the benefits of BRINO, and pragmatically lives with it.

    But there is another scenario: deindustralisation, economic decline, and social cuts continue while being an EU rule-taker with compromised single-market access. A recipe for a surge in populism and the successful relaunch of a “real” Brexit campaign. After all, the politicians in power still need a scapegoat, and no politician would be able to defend this arrangement without implicitly admitting: this is almost as good as membership would be, but in no respect better. At some point, the signature of a certain PM, meanwhile more hated than Tony Blair, back in 2019 on a backstop would be viewed as even less binding than today’s ERG/DUP view Blairs signature under the GFA.

    Continued membership is long-term more defensible and sustainable, so short-term damage-limitation is not such a strong argument for May’s deal.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Feb ’19 – 10:56pm……@Jayne Mansfield: I’m not talking about 2015, I’m talking about 2017. Not the Lib Dem party led by Nick Clegg, defending its record as a junior coalition partner, but the party led by Tim Farron — which had been in opposition and entered the election campaign saying it would not go into coalition or similar arrangements, and after May lost her majority stuck to that promise by refusing to prop up her minority Tory government, even though we could have done by the arithmetic……

    One has to admire your selective ‘take’ on history. May went into the 2017 election with predictions of 100+ majority (completely different from 2015) and there was absolutely no talk about a coalition. As for praising the party for not going into a coalition; there is an old folk song about a milkmaid that ends “Nobody asked you”…and to be honest, any attempt by the leadership to have a coalition, would have been the end of this party. I might as well expect a round of applause for my NOT committing suicide.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '19 - 9:10am

    @expats: On the contrary, after the exit poll showed the Tories losing their majority, everyone was asking us about coalition. And the party stuck to its guns. There can be no doubt that the Tories approached Lib Dem people after the result to see if Lib Dems would consider talks. Nor that the immediate Lib Dem response could be summed up in two words meaning, “Go forth and multiply.” Nonetheless, there was a lot of wild speculation about the possibility, based on routine conversations betwee opposing Parliamentary staffers about routine organisational stuff
    The idea that the Lib Dems were open to a post-election deal with the Tories was no doubt put about by Momentum (who are very keen to promote the idea that we would do that), and by the Tories themselves (who wanted to give the DUP the impression there was another offer on the table). But it was all, as Alistair Carmichael puts it, male gonads.
    I suspect the Tories would have preferred to deal with us than the DUP, because they can’t shaft the DUP so easily due to its unique position in UK politics.
    By pointing out the Lib Dems’ refusal to countenance post-election deals following the 2017 election, I am not seeking praise, but rubbishing Jayne’s claim (Momentum propaganda) that the Lib Dems are “Tory enablers”. You can argue that we “enabled” them between 2010 and 2015. But not since then.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Feb '19 - 11:00am

    I often wonder what the pioneers of community politics in the 1970s who used letraset, wax cut stensils and hand churned Getstetners to transform communities and give people power, would have done with the technology of today.

    What they would have heard from the left behind somehwheres of their own somewhere communities would have driven them to confront and challenge the greatest concentrations of power with tools that made such challenge possible.

    They would have challenged Town Halls, County Halls, City Halls, national Parliaments and of course the EU.

    Here is a wonderful story of “Marianne Grimmenstein, a 70-years-old and living in Lüdenscheid, a small industrial town nestled among the hills and valleys of western central Germany, taking on her Government and the EU over the CETA deal.

    You can’t have the benefits of community, democracy and globalisation. You can have two of them, but not all free.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb ’19 – 9:10am…[email protected]: On the contrary, after the exit poll showed the Tories losing their majority, everyone was asking us about coalition…

    I obviously missed all that. I never saw/read any pundit seriously considering another coalition.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Feb '19 - 1:51pm

    @ Alex Macfie,
    Good try. Expats has responded exactly as I would have responded.

    Your party was not called upon to enable anyone in 2015 and 2017, your party was surplus to Tory requirements. A pity really, as if that had not been the case in 2015, you may well have been able to form yet another human shield for Cameron and Co as they a) tried to keep their barmy right wing in check and b) taken the rap for blocking an EU referendum.

    I have no idea what momentum have or haven’t put about. What I do know is that the ‘ordinary’ people that I meet, are not prepared to trust your party, and this includes remainers and former Lib Dems. They are well aware of how easy it is to make promises, pledges even, when the chances of ever having to put them into practice are unlikely. Instead of seeking some bogie man or persons to blame , your time would be better spent reflecting on the reasons why this lack of trust continues.

    You may want to move on, but the people who were adversely affected by what you facilitated and enabled can’t. They will only be able to do so when a party that promises to rights the wrongs of the coalition years, has the opportunity of doing, so is given the power to do so.

    The Conservative party is not an option, and now , neither are the Liberal Democrats, Labour remains the only choice for those of us left of centre liberals, who see appalling social injustices and want them addressed with vigour.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '19 - 3:45pm

    Lib Dems WERE “called upon” in 2017, and we rebuffed the call. THAT IS THE POINT. The whole reason the DUP is now propping up the Tories is that the Lib Dems refused to do so. And I see no evidence of regret about making the no-coalition promise before the election. It was depressingly inevitable during the election campaign that we were going to be asked about coalition plans, and unlike in previous elections we had a clear unambiguous response. And it wasn’t just because of the predictions of a Tory landslide either — the SDP-Lib Alliance wasn’t making such a promise in the 1983 election campaign. Lib Dems said No to deals with either major party before and after the 2017 election because we would not have gained anything from such deals, due to lack of common ground with either big party and because they would have shafted us. Expats and Jayne Mansfield can engage in all the sophistry they like, but they will have to accept the basic truth, which is that the Lib Dems could have propped up the Tories after the 2017 election, and refused to do so. Otherwise their arguments are not worth listening to.

  • David Allen 2nd Feb '19 - 4:27pm

    Arnold Kiel,

    Essentially you’re saying that to accept the Barnier / May Deal (with or without conceding permanent membership of CU to get Labour on side) will not end the Great Europe Debate, and that ERG / UKIP / DUP will continue to agitate for “Full Monty” Brexit. And essentially you’re right.

    However… With free movement already ended, UKIP’s crucial fox will have been shot. The DUP will be sternly advised by everyone else in North and South Ireland that it was their intransigent antics which almost wrecked the peace, and it was only thanks to the EU Backstop that crisis was averted – so, pipe down, DUP, or risk electoral decline. As to the ERG, their pitch will have to be “You all hated the endless argument about Brexit, so now vote for us and we’ll start a new endless argument!”

    So I think if we went for Barnier’s Deal, ongoing argument about Europe would subside to a lower level. We’d probably find rule-taking occasionally irksome, and we’d lobby for a stronger voice, probably to be told “maybe, at a price!” Who knows, we might end up catalysing the often foretold EU split into “two-stage Europe”, with a more united Eurozone and a more distant “outer zone” which included the UK.

    Winning a referendum and staying In would, of course, be a substantially better outcome than BRINO. Getting a second referendum and losing it, probably to No Deal, would be a disastrously worse outcome. Are we high-stakes gamblers?

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb ’19 – 3:45pm……….Lib Dems WERE “called upon” in 2017, and we rebuffed the call. ””

    Alex, I can’t find any evidence about ‘THE CALL’. As for your “everyone was asking us about coalition”…Please give me any link that supports your statement…

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '19 - 6:47pm

    expats: The Lib Dems refused to even negotiate with the Tories after the election. So there wouldn’t have been anything newsworthy to report. Probably there was one phone call from Tory Central Office to the Lib Dem office in Great George Street to gauge the Lib Dems’ “real” interest in a deal, and they got something close to a two-word rebuff (not surprising as Tim Farron and other senior Lib Dems publicly stuck to the no-deal line after the election). If the Lib Dems had agreed to even preliminary talks with the Tories, THEN it would have been something newsworthy — consider the aborted coalition talks between Heath and Thorpe in February 1974, or in Germany the FDP holding talks with Merkel’s CDU then pulling out. If the Lib Dems were NOT asked, then it was because we had so forcefully ruled out any possibility of deals. But PMs have to consider every option for forming a stable government in the event of a hung parliament (Gordon Brown approached the DUP after the 2010 election), so it would be surprising if we were NOT asked. And there was plenty of silly media speculation about Lib Dems doing deals with the Tories, as evidenced in my link above.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb ’19 – 6:47pm………..expats: The Lib Dems refused to even negotiate with the Tories after the election. So there wouldn’t have been anything newsworthy to report. Probably there was one phone call from Tory Central Office to the Lib Dem office in Great George Street to gauge the Lib Dems’ “real” interest in a deal…….

    So your , everyone was asking us about coalition’ has become ‘probably one phone call’…

    Are you a fisherman by any chance?

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Feb '19 - 9:32am

    expats: You miss my point, which is that if the Lib Dems did not even agree to exploratory talks with the Tories for forming a government then there was nothing to report. Of course, if the Lib Dems *had* agreed to such talks (even if we backed out immediately afterwards), you would have seized on it and said that it showed that the Lib Dems were going back on their promise not to do any deals with the Tories.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Feb '19 - 11:28am

    expats: I think you are being deliberately obtuse. You ask for “evidence” for something that by defintion there probably can’t be any (Lib Dems refusing even exploratory post-election talks with the Tories) or for which I have provided a link (media speculation about the Lib Dems doing a deal with the Tories; it shows the desparation of journalists to demonstrate that such a deal was under consideration that they elevated routine or chance meetings between junior party staff to talks). Anyway it’s all irrelevant. The plain fact is that the Lib Dems refused to join the Tories in government (either in Coalition or Confidence & Supply) when the arithmetic allowed for it after the last election. So any accusation of us being “Tory enablers” now falls flat. It doesn’t matter whether we were asked or not. What matters is we are in opposition, the Tories are in a minority government, and Lib Dems are not helping them in any way. If anything, Labour are the Tory-enablers on Brexit and even on immigration (until the grassroots outcry).

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