Farron calls on Cameron to put national interest before party management on EU

Party leader to allow his frontbench team to campaign for a different position. Will Labour ever be united again? What do you mean this isn’t about Labour? Oh. This is the announcement that ministers will be able to campaign against the government at the referendum.

Tim Farron is demanding that Cameron shows the courage of his convictions.

David Cameron should have the courage of his convictions and make the case we all know he wants to make, that by staying in Europe, Britain can thrive.

The Prime Minister is failing to lead his own Government, let alone the country, putting his own internal party strife above what’s best for Britain.

Now is not the time to back down. The Government should take a collective position on this issue, and if ministers disagree with the Prime Minister they should resign.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party united in the case to remain. Together we created the world’s largest free trade area, we delivered peace, and we gave the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely. History shows that Britain is better when it is united with Europe.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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11 Comments

  • On the one hand, as a Liberal the fact that a few more people will have free speech on this issue is actually a good thing.

    On the other hand this is going to be a horrific punch-up between Tories. Which, although it’s technically a bad thing, sounds pretty entertaining.

  • Will Tim ask/order Nick Clegg to keep a million miles away from the campaign. The man is so toxic that he will be used as weapon against the pro Europe argument. The issue is far to important to ignore this and lest we forget the mileage Farage got out of his ‘debate’ with Clegg. Please don’t pretend this isn’t true – please.

  • This was totally inevitable; the referendum is happening only because of the Tory splits on Europe. The idea that collective responsibility would ever be enforced is daft, and Tim is wasting his time on a Westminster issue in saying this. I’m not quite sure how you whip a referendum anyway.

    I’ll be campaigning to remain, but will any Lib Dem MPs / Cllrs who don’t agree be expected to resign any positions held?

  • Oliver Leonard 5th Jan '16 - 2:36pm

    I actually honestly believe that as the ‘netural’ party of the UK we should be going for a free vote as well, I intended to do a fair EU in and out campaign that shows both the positives and negatives of membership and equally the positives and negatives of leaving the EU, after all if we’re really about equality and democracy then I believe the UK public should be able to make their own decisions on something that will affect us all. I honestly think that is the fairest way to do this type of thing.

  • Malcolm Todd 5th Jan '16 - 2:55pm

    If Cameron ends up campaigning for a ‘Leave’ vote (unlikely, but not impossible, I think), will we demand that he enforces collective responsibility and sacks anyone who wants to campaign to stay in?

  • Denis Loretto 5th Jan '16 - 4:51pm

    As I type this, the debate on Cameron’s report on the state of the EU negotiations is going on in the Commons. It was only at 4.40pm that it became clear there was a Lib Dem in the house – it was Tom Brake, who limited his question to the issue of admitting unaccompanied immigrant children. This is an important issue but not directly relevant to the EU referendum. While it may be thought by our leadership that only a minority of people watch or listen to parliamentary debates I think it is a grave error for our MPs not to be seen to be in the forefront of debates concerning issues like Europe which are of crucial importance to our members and our potential voters.

  • Paul Holmes 5th Jan '16 - 7:59pm

    Dennis, most people are not aware of the rules governing debates in the House of Commons. Ordinary MP’s do not have the ‘right’ to be ‘in the forefront of a debate’ however much they might want to be. Backbenchers are called to speak in strict proportion to the % of seats their Party has. So a Party with 8 MP’s can expect to have someone called to speak roughly 1.25% of the time.

    Our official Spokesman on a particular topic has a better chance -was that Tom Brake in this case? A debate starts with the Minister and Shadow Minister. The Spokesman for the Third largest Party (SNP) is called to speak a bit later – and later still the smaller Parties jostle for a chance. The other 7 of our MP’s may have no statistical chance whatsoever of being called in many debates. I more than once sat through a 5 or 6 hour debate and never got to speak and that’s when we had 62 MP’s! So should all 8 of our MP’s sit for hours through every debate knowing that only one is likely to have any chance to speak? Or should they spend their time more usefully?

  • Denis Loretto 6th Jan '16 - 12:33am

    Paul, clearly you know more about this than I do but while fairly strict proportional rules are clearly applied to PMQs I had the impression that this was not so strict for other debates. For instance Northern Irish members seemed to be popping up quite frequently today. I don’t think I missed any of this debate and I just think it cannot be right in a lengthy session about Europe to have no-one from what is still the most pro-EU party in the country to ask any question whatsoever about the crucial issues surrounding the referendum.

  • Denis Loretto 6th Jan '16 - 12:54pm

    Just to emphasise my point look at this brilliant question yesterday by Chuka Umunna which drew from Cameron an answer that we should be plugging like crazy –

    Mr Chuka Umunna (Streatham) (Lab): Many of those who argue for us to leave the European Union suggest that we could continue to be part of the single market without having to abide by any of the obligations that go with it. Does the Prime Minister know of any non-EU states that enjoy free trade with the single market but are not part of the free movement that goes with it?

    The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Look, my argument will in no way be that Britain could not succeed outside the European Union, because of course we could; we are a great country, the world’s fifth largest economy and a great trading power. The argument will be about whether we would be more prosperous and more secure inside or outside a reformed EU. To answer his question directly—I answered this when I went to Iceland—countries such as Iceland and Norway have to obey all the rules of the single market, including on the free movement of people, but without having any say on what those rules are. In Norway it has been described as democracy by fax, because the instructions comes through from Brussels, and they pay more per head to the EU than we do. It will be for the campaign responsible to make the arguments about what life would be like outside the EU, and this is a crucial question that it will have to answer.

  • Paul Holmes 6th Jan '16 - 1:32pm

    Hi Denis. No the strict proportionality rules apply to all debates.

    If its a Statement it is a bit different as the Speaker will try to fit in as many people as possible -to ask short questions only. But if there are more people standing (hence the bobbing up and down you see on TV) than there is time available for the Statement, then the Speaker still applies proportionality in order to ration out the time available.

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