If we make Jeremy Corbyn PM, we’ll leave with no deal

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn often tell me not to quote the Murdoch media. They forgot their own advice when they retweeted a false claim by Sky NewsSky’s Jon Craig implied that Jo Swinson was the only leader opposed to Corbyn as leader of a government of national unity. Yet Anna Soubry the leader of Change UK was at the meeting, and she is resolutely opposed to Corbyn, as are most of the 34 independents. So many that, even if the Lib Dems did support him, Corbyn wouldn’t have a majority.
Nonetheless, the Labour and SNP leaderships constantly push this attack line. As these attacks seem to be worrying a few Lib Dems, let’s consider what would happen if we did what they say.

Corbyn’s policy is to extend article 50, then have a general election. If this results in a Labour government, he would negotiate his own version of Brexit and then have a referendum. Of course, if Johnson won that election, we would instantly leave the EU with no deal. That this doesn’t worry Corbyn raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions.

Ellie Mae O’Hagan, no friend of ours, makes an important point in this tweet. If the Lib Dems installed Corbyn as interim leader, it would devastate the chances of hundreds of Lib Dems trying to unseat Tory MPs. Forget Chuka Ummuna replacing Mark Field, Luciana Berger replacing Mike Freer, Phillip Lee replacing John Redwood. What O’Hagan fails to point out is that, if the Lib Dems committed political suicide in this way, the Tories would be all but guaranteed a majority in the coming election and so the country would almost certainly leave with no deal.

So why are Labour and the SNP laying into the Lib Dems? Why claim our insistence on a compromise candidate for PM will increase the chance of a hard brexit? They ignored us for years, why attack us now?

Simple. We are now a threat.

After we beat both Labour and the Tories in a UK-wide poll for the first time in our history, they pretended our success didn’t worry them. They now feign indifference to our steady rise in Westminster polling. They won’t admit, but they know, as Andrew Rawnsley puts it, that Jo is the wild card of the coming election.

The SNP, despite their current Scottish polling, are nervous. With Corbyn sitting on the fence on Brexit and the Scottish Tories losing their popular leader, they hope to sweep the board in Scotland. But then they remember how Jo took her seat back from the SNP in 2017, and how the Lib Dems are now seen across the country as the main Remain party.

They mean us harm, but let’s not panic, because their attacks will probably help us. The public won’t punish Jo for blocking a politician with record unpopularity from becoming PM. And when the Tories run a scare campaign about Jo putting Corbyn in number ten, these smears will actually help us.

So when we read the attacks of hard leftwingers against Jo and our party, don’t be disheartened. They are a sign of success.
Of course, this doesn’t get us anywhere in stopping a hard Brexit. Corbyn couldn’t get a majority as leader of an emergency government to stop a no deal Brexit, but maybe someone else could. Despite the Lib Dems being second in a recent poll clearly Jo wouldn’t have the support of Labour MPs.
Maybe we should be asking Corbyn if he’d be willing for anyone else to lead it. Or whether, instead, he’d prefer a no deal Brexit.

* George Kendall is vice-chair of the Social Democrat Group. He writes in a personal capacity.

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145 Comments

  • Rory Stewart leave the Tories. Announces standing for London Mayor as Independant.
    Should we not stand down and give him a clear run.

  • The only way to avoid no deal brexit is to install a government of national unity and run a 2nd referendum. Once that is out of the way disolve the government and have a fresh general election. I see no party willing to do this, including the Lib Dems. There are no good guys in any of this.

  • My worry is while the opposition to no deal play out their political games the country may end up with a no deal

  • Mick Taylor 4th Oct '19 - 11:47am

    I agree with this analysis. We are not the obstacle to Corbyn as interim PM. Even if all the Labour MPs, all the SNP MPs and all the Lib Dem MPs voted for a Corbyn led government there would be no majority for it in Parliament.
    An interim PM would require support from disaffected/expelled Tory MPs and independents as well as Labour, SNP and Lib Dems. Whatever one may think of Corbyn’s Labour Party it simply won’t get that support.
    Labour may require a token vote in the Commons to show this is the case, but in reality they know it now.
    It should be obvious to those on LDV that push the Labour narrative that this is the case. Sadly for most of them anyone who opposes Labour under its present leader is regarded as a traitor.
    I do hope that the talks currently going on between opposition parties focus on the reality of getting an acceptable figurehead for the necessary GNU rather than scoring points.

  • ………………………..Corbyn’s policy is to extend article 50, then have a general election. If this results in a Labour government, he would negotiate his own version of Brexit and then have a referendum. Of course, if Johnson won that election, we would instantly leave the EU with no deal. That this doesn’t worry Corbyn raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions……………

    I thought extending article 50 and then having a GE was this party’s policy, too?

    As for your, “Of course, if Johnson won that election, we would instantly leave the EU with no deal.” Please explain how that has anything to do with Corbyn? If this party became the official oppostion how would that stop Johnson?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Oct '19 - 1:17pm

    As usual from George nothing except sense.

    No disagreement, from me, right on the button, on every word.

    Those of us ex Labour, me a decade and a half or more a Liberal Democrat, we are the ones , as with ex Tory, who shall not support Corbyn.

    He is as poor a potential pm as the man pm now is poor a pm.

    We can back a Labour party led by a unifying leader. Dame Margaret Becket….

  • Daniel Walker 4th Oct '19 - 1:30pm

    @theakes “Should we not stand down and give him a clear run.”

    The London Mayoral elections use Supplementary Vote – “standing down” isn’t really needed. While AV would be better, people who wish to can put Siobhan Benita down and Rory Stewart second if they so wish (or vice versa of course)

  • John Marriott 4th Oct '19 - 2:04pm

    To get a majority in Parliament for a GNU you need those Tory votes. They are not going to support JC as PM. End of story.

  • I know it is hard for some to grasp BUT we are in a virtual fight to the death with Labour, one will come out on top, at the moment it is up in the air. We cannot be seen to be perceived as “being in bed with them”, neither can they allow themselves to be pushed around by ourselves. Hence the neutral type candidate. Swinson has this spot on and should stick to her guns. JC just does not have the numbers and will be voted down in the Commons, we would probably abstain along with a number of Tory rebels. One day Labour will just publicly accept that. Question is when?

  • George Kendall 4th Oct ’19 – 1:39pm………[email protected]…….As for why our supporting Corbyn for PM would cause a Johnson majority, I suggest you reread my article, in particular the paragraph starting with the words “Ellie Mae O’Hagan, no friend of ours”.

    I never said that so please don’t use such an obvious strawman argument…

    What I said was that even if this party became the official opposition (instead of Labour) how would that stop a majority Johnson led government going for ‘no-deal”

    As for your ‘Corbyn’s policy is to extend article 50, then have a general election’….Again, how does that differ from LibDem policy?

  • Ross McLean 4th Oct '19 - 3:49pm

    Theakes – Rory Stewart leave the Tories. Announces standing for London Mayor as Independant. Should we not stand down and give him a clear run.
    Why on earth would we do that??

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Oct '19 - 3:57pm

    Boris Johnson’s bluster about his ‘die in the ditch’ leaving the EU at the end of October 31st with or without a deal, s being revealed in the Scottish Court of Session.

    He intends to abide by the Labour MP Hilary Benn’s Act.

  • David Allen 4th Oct '19 - 4:22pm

    George Kendall makes the convoluted argument that Lib Dem support for Corbyn would play into Johnson’s hands, eventually – or so Kendall speculates – helping Johnson to win an election which he would otherwise have lost, and then go for No Deal Brexit. The “hundreds” of Tory – Lib Dem marginals in play would, it seems, be the big decisive factor. Showing that the Lib Dems would never support Corbyn, but would prefer Johnson, would be the conclusive vote winner for the Lib Dems – Or so this speculation implies.

    Ergo, the best way to avoid the possible risk of No Deal Brexit after the next election is – to do nothing. This will, of course, effectively support Johnson’s rapid progress towards No Deal Brexit, BEFORE the next election.

    Eh?

    Well. for those who prefer their logic less tangled, let’s turn to the Guardian, which reveals that:

    “Earlier this week, when asked which was worse, a no-deal Brexit or Corbyn as prime minister, the Liberal Democrats’ Scotland spokesman, Jamie Stone, said: ‘It may be that somebody else may emerge from the Labour party. I think the ball is very much in the Labour party’s court to see what alternatives they could find.’ …. When pressed on which he would prefer – ‘Is it Jeremy Corbyn or is it no deal?’ – Stone eventually showed his cards. ‘It is no deal every time.’ ”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/04/jeremy-corbyn-mps-labour-leader-legitimacy

    So there we have it – out of the mouth of an official Lib Dem spokesman. The Lib Dems are not truly, honestly, really fighting to stop No Deal Brexit. They are covertly quite happy to see the UK leave with No Deal, provided the Lib Dems can pick up a few seats, Corbyn can be kept away from power, and Kendall can find Jesuitical arguments to prove that black is white.

    Say it ain’t so, Jo!

  • Alex Macfie 4th Oct '19 - 4:37pm

    Theakes’ idea that Siobhan should stand aside in the London Mayoral election for Rory Stewart is bizarre, and would be even if it were a straight FPTP election. Rory Stewart is not well known in London, and will not have a party machine behind him. Siobhan Benita is London born and bred, and is already establishing a strong profile as the Lib Dem candidate. And she will be remembered for when she stood an independent in 2012.

  • philip mclellan 4th Oct '19 - 4:39pm

    This is a difficult one. We could be damned either way. Somehow Boris manages to leave with No Deal and we will be slated by remainers (just check some of the Remain facebook groups) for not seeking to support JC. Many folks don’t understand the complexities of who would support him.
    On the other hand as many say on here supporting Corbyn could be the kiss of death in mny current Tory constuencies and it may have zero effect.
    Why can’t we support a VONC then see if Corbyn can cobble together a majority, if he can’t which is very likely, then can someone else like Margaret Beckett have a go

  • Tis a false question, a devil and the deep blue sea question. Do you choose Depeffle or Corbyn, the answer of cause is neither, but you must choose cry the media, err no we don’t a bad decsion is a bad decsion and both of them are the worse decsion we could make.

  • David Allen 4th Oct '19 - 4:56pm

    For those who prefer it short and pithy:

    “Earlier this week, when asked (to choose between) a no-deal Brexit or Corbyn as prime minister, the Liberal Democrats’ Scotland spokesman, Jamie Stone, said … when pressed on which he would prefer: ‘It is no deal every time.’ ”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/04/jeremy-corbyn-mps-labour-leader-legitimacy

    Aaagh!

  • Alex Macfie 4th Oct '19 - 5:49pm

    Whether or not Johnson intends to abide by the Benn Act is beside the point. Any suggestion of Lib Dems propping up Corbyn would kill us, even if the event never comes to pass.

  • Paul Barker 4th Oct '19 - 5:59pm

    Johnson is a compulsive liar so speculating about who he is “Really” lying to is pointless.
    The GNU road was never very likely & Labour have closed it off completely for now. My guess is that Johnson will ask for an Extension at the last moment & then demand an immeidiate Election which he will fight on a “Boris versus The Traitors” Platform, but who knows ?
    We go into that Election as the only Party that can Stop the Endless Brexit.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Oct '19 - 6:03pm

    David Allen: In that Guardian article by Gary Younge, he writes “Liberal Democrats don’t get to choose the Labour leader. Labour does. ” But the question is NOT about who gets to be Labour leader. It’s about who gets to lead a GNU. And that person doesn’t have to be a party leader. Chamberlain remained Tory leader when Churchill became PM in 1940.
    And “no-deal Brexit or Corbyn as PM” is a false choice, because Corbyn as PM would lead to no-deal Brexit (by giving Johnson a majority in the following election). So really, the choice is between “no-deal Brexit” and “Corbyn as PM followed by no-deal Brexit under Johnson”. Clearly we prefer one catastrophe to two. But really, what we want is neither.

  • You could always have an indictive secret vote in parliament for the leader of a national government to get us through this mess. I rather doubt Corbyn would top that poll.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Oct '19 - 6:27pm

    @ Nick Collins,

    That’s a tough one when one is dealing with a known liar of low morals.

    I don’t think that Mr Die in the ditch will be very happy that his bluffing has become general knowledge.

    The outrage that followed when the leader of the ‘law and order party’ broke the law, makes me think, the first first option. I still believe that what is coming from number 10 is bravado. He has boxed himself into a corner.

    However, if I accurately predict what Boris Johnson will do next to promote Boris Johnson as the Churchillian leader of the Tommy Robinson tendency, I would seek help for myself.

  • You are not being asked to prop up Corbyn, merely to facilitate a short term GNU, strictly limited in duration and powers, in order to stop no deal and to facilitate a confirmatory referendum.It would be possible surely, to lock in Jo Swinson and the SNP leader in such a short term arrangement.As a remainer who has given my vote the last twice to the Liberal Democrats, I am sorry that Jo Swinson was the first to openly speak that she would not support a short term arrangement with the normal procedure of the leader with most mps having the first chance to lead. There had been remainer unity until then, but I am perplexed that this looks like smallpartyism as Libdems and Labour fish from the same pool for votes.There is little time left and the Libdems must do everything possible to stop this brexit disaster.
    I understand the reservations about Corbyn, which is why I voted for the clear Libdem position and I also understand that you want to attract Tories who would never vote for Corbyn.
    In my opinion and I am no politicial anorak, just a grandma who will never accept the loss of my European citizenship and rights to live and work in the EU, I think that there has been insufficient emphasis on ” following the money, ” and the amount of money donors wanting brexit are giving Ministers Even the Chancellor worked in the dodgey derivatives game, during the crash.
    To conclude, I hope that Jo Swinson will do whatever it takes to stop this Tory disaster unfolding, but I am uneasy.

  • Peter Watson 4th Oct '19 - 6:40pm

    This article and the discussion below it merely serves to highlight the laughable, painful irony of the phrase “national unity”.
    The current “better no deal Brexit than Corbyn” line is the icing on the cake of a Remain campaign that has failed to make progress in more than three years.
    If Monty Python wanted to update Life of Brian to spoof a different JC (He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty socialist) then Remain would replace Judea as the worthy cause so poorly served by those claiming to defend it.

  • I have spoken to Labour Party members who don not understand (or pretend not to understand) the difference between a Vote of No Confidence called by Corbyn or whoever and making JC “caretaker PM”. Personally I feel it is wrong to humiliate the Labour Leader by putting him in a position where he cannot take the House of Commons with him. Far better for the Whips from the Parliamentary Anti-populist Front to follow up their good work to date by carefully thinking through what is needed step by step. The discipline has been impressive and should not be blown off course by conspiring with the sort of goading from the media that we have seen in the last few days.

  • margaret – Labour have said they’re not interested in a GNU. They say the Vote of No Confidence should be followed by a minority Labour government, led by Corbyn. That should tell you what’s going on here. It’s a power grab, and even if we LibDems voted for it, it won’t work.
    There was a very good article on this the other day by Stephen Bush in the New Statesman. (I tried to post this earlier but it hasn’t appeared yet, so apologies if it appears twice): https://www.newstatesman.com/2019-10-02
    Thankyou for voting for us twice, and I hope you will keep doing so. Labour showed at their conference (yet again) they are really are not the party of Remain. We are.

  • George’s last sentence is crucial. Standing up to well-funded distortions without being destabilised is part of our style!

  • Richard Underhill. 4th Oct '19 - 7:42pm

    theakes 4th Oct ’19 – 11:09am
    Please tell us where you live.
    Rory Stewart’s tweet was publicised on BBC Politics Live on 4/10/2019.
    He will obviously hurt the official Conservative candidate most, but he has also attacked the noisy, bad mannered, old fashioned parliament in London.
    London voted heavily against Brexit in the euro-elections this year
    Rory Stewart MP wanted to leave with a deal (Theresa May’s deal).
    Corbyn (Islington) and Thornberry (Islington) have different views.
    Preferential voting matters.
    Liberal Democrats should campaign vigorously for what we believe.
    We are in with a chance
    We are in with a chance and

  • Richard Underhill. 4th Oct '19 - 7:53pm

    margaret 4th Oct ’19 – 6:30pm
    21 MPs have lost the Tory whip and one has resigned from the cabinet.
    Please do the maths.
    Jo Swinson has a seat in Scotland and is familiar with e SNP. She has been supported by the Lib Dem conference and has stood up for what she believes.
    Jeremy Corbyn is putting his personal ambition first.

  • Richard
    I am no fan of Corbyn and think his role in the Brexit saga and as leader of the official Opposition has been dismal.I also do not think he would win an election and that it was a bit of a fluke that Labour got more seats than expected last election.I cannot see what is wrong with him as a token figure for a temporary period, strictly for purposes of stopping a no deal and to get a referendum under way and then an election.He would be a paper tiger, anyway, as he could be brought down anytime, but he will not have the numbers if remainers do not unite and hold their noses, in light of the fact that we are days from a cliff edge .I think it was unwise for Jo Swinson to break cover so early and publicly in refusing to work with Corbyn and maybe Vince Cable would have done it differently.I cannot see how it would work plucking a better choice out so close to October 31st when we are faced with an unscrupulous Prime Minister.No doubt there are many discussions going on and I am proud that remainers from all parties have worked so well together so far.I am no sort of an expert, not a member of a politicial party or great follower of party conferences.I think the policy of referendum and then an election with the clear choice of revoke would appeal to many remainers.

  • George,I hear what you are saying about having Corbyn as a temporary PM and it is a tragedy that at such a dangerous time for the country, Corbyn is such an unpopular, divisive figure, a real tragedy, as we need real leadership .I hope that from the collective wisdom of our Parliament a consensus will emerge before the end of the month.

  • Richard Malim 4th Oct '19 - 9:32pm

    The Scottish gentleman is spot on. No Deal may be horrible, but it is not as damaging a proposition as JC in no.10. JC won’t concede because Marxists never do: Jo Swinson is quite right: those parties who think they can nail a Marxist down should know that once in no.10 JC will tear up any ‘agreement’, sack his remainers, and come out without a deal, so that he can implement his extreme policies without interference from any European Court.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Oct '19 - 9:32pm

    There is little or no chance that any government could emerge from this Parliament long enough to deliver another referendum, led by Corbyn or anyone else. The Tory rebels and a significant group of Labour Kinnockites want a deal, not a referendum. I am afraid it is just another unicorn. A new Parliament with less Tories in it is needed to get a referendum. (but that may not happen)

    The more likely scenario is that a temporary government has to rule for long enough to ask for an extension and call a General Election, because Johnson has wriggled out of it and a Dirty no deal Brexit looms by default. I see no big risk in supporting Corbyn in this and huge problems in not doing so. If Corbyn could not win the vote of confidence then we would need someone else. However, the Kinnockites might not support a different candidate. That is why there needs to be an extension before a VONC, and we were right to resist the SNP bounce.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Oct '19 - 9:39pm

    Richard Malim,
    Corbyn is not a Marxist and even if he was, he certainly does not have the support of Labour MPs or members for pursuing a no deal Brexit

    And as pointed out above, the “Scottish Gentleman” has made it clear that No Deal is worse than Corbyn.

    The anti Corbyn rhetoric is getting a bit extreme. There are a lot of people that dont trust him on Brexit but quite like his other policies, and to win seats we need their votes

  • David Allen 4th Oct '19 - 9:43pm

    George Kendall,

    Thanks for the links to the Jamie Stone clip. Well, he made a complete pig’s ear of the interview, didn’t he? When first asked which was worse, Corbyn as PM or no deal, he very clearly chose to talk only about how bad Corbyn was. When the question was revised to “”where do you stand? Is it Jeremy Corbyn or is it no-deal?” it drew the response “It is no deal every time.”

    After that, Stone garbled it. There was a brief interruption, but it should not have prevented Stone from making his views clear. Instead of doing that, he launched into an incomprehensible line about the need to “gold plate No Deal”. Then he went into a long diversionary peroration.

    I suspect that Stone had meant to dodge the question a second time, but mis-spoke himself, and instead gave an answer. He probably didn’t actually mean to express a clear preference for No Deal. But that’s what the words said.

    There is a simple way forward now. Jo Swinson should answer the question, and she shouldn’t dodge it.

  • TonyH. Thanks for the clear Stephen Bush article, in New Statesman.This is obviously much more complex than I thought.It does get easier voting Libdem after the first time and my little cohort of close friends are all remainers and now vote the same way. You are our only hope right now and thanks for all that the party is doing to save the country.

  • This whole business is getting more and more like Alice in Wonderland. What would the Lib Dem attitude be if Mr Corbyn suggested Ms Swinson be replaced as Leader by Jamie Stone ?

  • David Allen 4th Oct '19 - 11:40pm

    The Lib Dems kid themselves that their proposal for a non-Corbyn PM is indisputably the only way forward, because they and other MPs such as TIG have declared that they cannot possibly vote for Corbyn. Labour kid themselves that their proposal for a Corbyn PM is indisputably the only way forward, because their (much larger) block of MPs have declared that they cannot possibly vote for anyone but Corbyn. They are both talking nonsense. A compromise, such as a Corbyn PM with a majority non-Labour Cabinet, is the only alternative to a very serious risk of No Deal Brexit.

    Johnson may be bluffing. But what if he isn’t? What if he can square one EU country to reject an extension – Hungary perhaps, Malta (who like money) perhaps? Then it’s No Deal in 27 days time – Unless we have taken action to install a new PM who will act differently. Why take the risk of not taking that precaution?

    Installing Corbyn under these circumstances would be installing our prisoner in Number 10. Swinson could declaim an onerous series of constraints on Corbyn’s freedom of action, and binding commitments Corbyn would be obliged to make – for a very simple reason. Corbyn would be beholden to the Lib Dems, SNP, and smaller parties for his survival as PM. One false step, and we’d have him straight out again.

    Knowing all that, the Tory-Lib Dem waverers of the Home Counties marginals wouldn’t be fazed one bit. But if wer let No Deal Brexit go through instead, when we could have stopped it, we’d be back down to 6% figures – at the drop of a hat.

  • I am curious why has neither Jo or anyone else in the party not put her name forward to leading a temporary unity Government?
    If the party could be “trusted” to just write the letter of extension and then immediately have parliament dissolved for a General Election, why are Liberal Democrats not putting their name forward?
    If Liberal Dems dont trust Corbyn and Corbyn will not step aside to allow another Labour party member to become temporary PM, there really are not many alternatives,
    Maybe Jo needs to throw her hat into ring.

  • Katharine Pindar 5th Oct '19 - 12:39am

    All this fevered speculation strikes me as unnecessary. We just don’t have power to make or break government, or decide the fate of the nation. There are, fortunately, powerful forces working to prevent No Deal. If a temporary government is necessary because the present PM resigns, no doubt Jeremy Corbyn will put himself forward, and as our leader has said, won’t get the numbers. It’s not up to us, but Jo is sensible not to risk our reputation by trying to install any but a neutral figure to lead a short-term government tasked only with organising a General Election.

    George, I think we should be careful in our political friendships. Rory Stewart is a Tory through and through, and I’m glad he will no longer be MP for the constituency in which I became a Liberal activist a long time ago, which now will have better Lib Dem hopes. Let us admit new members from either big party, if they can accept our Preamble, but let’s not assume that Labour without Mr Corbyn would be our soulmates. Momentum can be as ruthless as the present Tory leadership in casting out their own MPs, and there are plenty of that party’s policies which are illiberal. Let us keep our distance and grow our Liberal Democracy with hope and expectation, but also with realism.

  • It’s all power posturing. A GNU would end up looking like a desperate coup by technocrats and would quickly collapse amid acrimony, with lots of MPs declining to comment as they were door-stepped by journalists. However, I suspect it would last long enough to add considerable weight to the idea that the European project appeals mainly to a political class that wants to bypass having appeal to or even engage with the electorate. The last thing it would be capable of creating is any kind of national unity.

  • Richard Malim 4th Oct ’19 – 9:32pm…………………The Scottish gentleman is spot on. No Deal may be horrible, but it is not as damaging a proposition as JC in no.10. JC won’t concede because Marxists never do: Jo Swinson is quite right: those parties who think they can nail a Marxist down should know that once in no.10 JC will tear up any ‘agreement’, sack his remainers, and come out without a deal, so that he can implement his extreme policies without interference from any European Court……………………

    Thank you Joseph McCarrthy.

    Most posts are not as extreme but, on the whole, the hatred of Jeremy Corbyn seems to far exceed that directed at Boris Johnson. It’s not suprising as the thread is basically a mish-mash of assertions.
    Even the, “So why are Labour and the SNP laying into the Lib Dems? Why claim our insistence on a compromise candidate for PM will increase the chance of a hard brexit? They ignored us for years, why attack us now?”, is plain wrong…I have been following this site for years and I can’t remember a single time when complaints about “Labour attacks on LibDems” haven’t featured somewhere.

    This party, and the sentiments expressed in this thread, will be, I’m sad to say, the deciding factor in the UK (for as long as it lasts) getting another 5 years of Boris Johnson and all that entails. ,

  • @Glenn
    Johnson holds all the cards, which is why you see so much desperate thrashing around on this thread. All their own fault, I say. This is because these are the voices who want total victory over the 17 million who voted leave. To discount, repudiate and throw back their considered opinions into their faces. Not the slightest disengagement (which might only have been for five or ten years) was countenanced. Only the abso!ute return to the status quo ante.
    Johnson has successfully positioned himself as the voice of the people vs the establishment. The supreme court verdict played into that and the joy of the 100% Remainers at his supposed defeat was just another self delusion.
    But they know that. That is why they fear the ballot box until they have ‘stitched up’ the leave vote first.
    The voters can see all this. They are not stupid drones.
    BoJo plan is easy
    – position himself as the voice of the people against the elite
    -‘come up with a new deal and defy the EU to dismiss his helpful stance
    If they reject he can hold up his hands and say “I told you they were bullies”
    – he just resigns just before the Benn Act (“I refuse to surrender my nation!) and invites the benches opposite to form this mythical GNU.
    What actually is opposite is politely described as a spectrum of irreconcilable differences but more simply as a squabbling, leaderless, disorganised rabble. And that is how the people see it.
    And then we have
    – either the disaster of no deal but Johnson’s hands are clean (“I tried”( or
    – the EU decide their exporters will suffer and suddenly give way

    Either way he wins. All because the 100% Reamainers could not find a little room to discuss a way forward with half their fellow citizens but decided to insult them into surrender.

  • Denis Loretto 5th Oct '19 - 9:00am

    Two points –
    1. Jamie Stone MP clearly got himself into difficulty in his interview but has since provided absolute clarity – he regards leaving with no deal as the worst possible outcome, which is what he meant by ‘It is no deal every time.’ No-one should be in any doubt as to the Lib Dem position on this.
    2. The Tory “rebels” (most of whom are backing the current effort by Johnson to bamboozle his way through the Irish backstop) are so deeply opposed to facilitating even a temporary Corbyn premiership that they may well not support a vote of no confidence which leaves this as a possibility i.e. the ploy of letting Corbyn have “first go” and finding out himself that the votes are not there for him. I think the only way to nail this down is to specify the identity of the interim PM in the VONC itself. This would also remove any doubt the Queen may have as to who she should invite to form a government if the VONC succeeds.

  • Well said George. I am getting fed up with the orchestrated and deliberately ignorant attacks on Jo’s common sense position that Corbyn can’t (and shouldn’t) lead a GNU as this meaning that the only other option is No Deal with Johnson. Of course it suits many in Labour and the SNP to spread those lies for the usual tedious party political reasons.

    What’s that saying? First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, and then you win. We used to be subject to the first two, so I suppose it’s a sign of progress that they just lie about our position. As a Scot, it’s nothing new to me to see how much the SNP hate the LibDems, but perhaps a bit of an eye-opener to those in the rest of the UK who thought they were allies.

    And as tempting as it is to blame it all on Labour and SNP seeing an opportunity for disingenuous bashing of the party that’s threatening their respective positions, we can’t forget that the immediate beneficiaries of muddying the waters and creating divisions between parties that might form a GNU are those who are keen to push through a no-Deal Brexit, and to a lesser extent, those who want Brexit with a deal and don’t want a confirmatory referendum etc.

    @David. Swinson hasn’t suggested the Labour party changes their leader. The fact you think she has is further evidence of the misinformation being spread.

    I can only presume Theakes is on the wind-up when he asks about us standing down for Stewart. He may have come across well in a Tory leadership contest when pitched against Gove and Johnson, but he doesn’t share our values, and doesn’t have a strong connection to London, so why would we think he’ll be a good mayor? We have a far superior candidate who has a great understanding of London and fantastic policies who stands a realistic chance of getting into the top two on first preference votes. And if it were a straight choice between Stewart and Khan, I’d pick Khan.

  • Katharine Pindar 5th Oct '19 - 9:52am

    Yes, Denis, you are probably right, that if there is a Vote of No Confidence, it should desirably (if possible) specify the neutral figure sought to head a temporary government. The length of time that this should exist for, and its purpose – in my view, only to house-sit while planning a General Election in the near future – should also be laid out. I suppose the Parliamentarians opposed to the present government will be working on those plans. ( I find the thought of Boris Johnson parading his temporary unearned power through a Queen’s Speech after another prorogation horrific, but it seems to be accepted that it must go ahead? Pity the Palace doesn’t send a delicate message declining to deliver it!)

    George, we do have greater influence than before, which I suppose is why we are attacked more, but we don’t have power. The larger SNP contingent of MPs, and the Tory rebels may have more. Regarding your query about the order of wanting another referendum or a general election, it is party policy to support a referendum, but we haven’t called for a general election, which I suppose is just inevitable. We do of course oppose both main parties, not only for their willingness to accept Brexit, but also for their mindsets and policies, regardless of who comes to lead them next.

    (Incidentally, my name is spelled with an ‘a’ in the middle – Katharine.)

  • Nasser Butt 5th Oct '19 - 10:26am

    I dont care much about anyone at present being a PM. I am neutral.
    However as a LibDem all I care about is staying in EU and acheiving this thru one way or another.
    I think we need to come off our emotional high horse and get together with others for this Unity Government and achieve the objective as well defined by Sir Oliver Latwin.
    Vote of no confidence, Unity Govetnment, followed by A Referandom, then followed by Gen Election.

    Lets not make it a personal issue about J Corburn or anyone else. Lets be democrats and work with the majority vote of coilition partners about who will be the PM for Coilition Gov.

  • Denis Loretto 5th Oct '19 - 11:12am

    In all of this we must bear in mind that the rebel Tories or ex-Tories (including Rory Stewart) are not seeking to stop brexit but to stop no deal brexit. There are very few exceptions to this. Only if no deal is imminent can we pray them in aid in any anti Johnson move. A VONC is not in our gift or in the gift of the SNP. It is only in the gift of these rebel Tories and they will not support a Corbyn premiership, temporary or otherwise. I nearly put that last bit in capitals but I know shouting is not allowed on LDV!

  • Katharine Pindar: “If a temporary government is necessary because the present PM resigns, no doubt Jeremy Corbyn will put himself forward, and as our leader has said, won’t get the numbers. It’s not up to us, but Jo is sensible not to risk our reputation by trying to install any but a neutral figure to lead a short-term government tasked only with organising a General Election.”

    I agree. And I am surprised that no-one, I think, has suggested the name of Caroline Lucas. Her public appearances on such occasions as Question Time are consistently sage, restrained, and good humoured. No party can plausibly object to her on the grounds (spoken or not) that this would serve the interests of her own party at the expense of the big boys, because even a doubling of support for the Greens would , in these frantic weeks, hardly be noticed. So I believe both the public at large, and senior members of other parties, would be confident of her diplomatic skills, and her objective good will and competence, as a temporary PM to steer us through the maelstrom.

  • Richard Underhill. 5th Oct '19 - 12:14pm

    May we have a different acronym, please?

  • Richard Underhill. 5th Oct '19 - 12:19pm

    David Raw 4th Oct ’19 – 11:10pm
    Simple. Jo Swinson was elected in a fair contest. The other candidate had very similar policies and is now deputy leader working closely with the elected leader.

  • Peter Hirst 5th Oct '19 - 12:25pm

    The question seems to be how we can avoid Brexit without harming our poll ratings and election chances? We want to win seats at the next General Election and we also want to avoid especially a no deal Brexit. Juggling these priorities must be a nightmare for those in charge of our policies. Labour will do anything to become government, including leaving the eu. We have a track record for sacrificing the Party for the greater good. Let’s hope we don’t have to do it again.

  • Richard Underhill. 5th Oct '19 - 12:30pm

    Denis Loretto 5th Oct ’19 – 11:12am
    Emboldening is allowed and we were recently told how to do it. Maybe one of the editorial team could tell us again.
    Do you have a view on mechanism/s for deploying a veto in Northern Ireland? Could the DUP or Sinn Fein do that without having a majority of members of the Assembly? If YES, do you think that Boris Johnson has offered the DUP too much? (bearing in mind that the EU27 policy of only dealing with national governments should also apply to Belgium).

  • As someone who has voted Labour and Lib Dem , I’d remind you of the old phrase ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’. We are in a serious crisis and Swinson is playing fantasy politics.

    Today’s Telegraph should make sober reading ; it talks of Johnson hoping(knowing?) Hungary will veto and extension. And the Lib Dems are messing around?

    The Lib Dems could easily vote no-confidence then let Corbyn have first go (by supporting) and if/when he fails, then find an alternative. An alternative which Corbyn would have to accept if he wants a GNU. You are turning something that should be straightforward into a psychodrama.

    If Johnson gets Brexit through due to your prevarication and stalling, you’ll lose 10% immediately.

  • Richard Underhill. 5th Oct '19 - 12:37pm

    Nothing further from theakes 4th Oct ’19 – 11:09am

  • Alex Macfie 5th Oct '19 - 12:38pm

    Nasser Butt: Democracy is not about falling into line with the majority. In this context, “democracy” is about having a government that can command the support of a majority of the elected House of Commons. Liberal Democrat MPs, in our Parliamentary democracy, have every right to refuse to give any government that support.

  • Richard Underhill. 5th Oct '19 - 1:01pm

    matt 4th Oct ’19 – 11:52pm
    David Steel was Speaker of the Scottish Parliament
    John Alderdice was Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
    but interim PM would be compared with Lady Jane Grey’s short-lived monarchy.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Jane_Grey

  • George Kendall 5th Oct ’19 – 1:21pm…………@expats……..You are right. We often overreact to attacks on us from the other parties, when these are minor attacks, which make no impact on the wider public..But can you remember a time in the last four years when the name of the leader of the Lib Dems was regularly being attacked on a major policy issue in the headlines? I can’t…………..

    Nor I.
    However, neither can I remember, apart from when Jo Swinson decided to abandon a referendum (which is, again, on the Brexit issue), a LibDem policy on which the media were particularly interested in.

    Let’s be honest the referendum result (which is bad for the country) has been good for this party. That issue has devided the nation into two almost equal camps and, with the Tories on the ‘Leave at any cost’ sideand Labour supporting neither side, the field was wide open for any party to grab the ‘Remain’ vote.

    Please don’t mess up by playing party politics.

  • @ Richard Underhill

    David Steel was not “the Speaker” of the Scottish Parliament. Correction awaited.

  • He was the Presiding Officer, source wikipedia

    He suspended his Lib Dem membership for the duration of his tenure as Presiding Officer; that post, like the Speaker of the UK House of Commons, is strictly nonpartisan. He stepped down as an MSP when the parliament was dissolved for the 2003 election, but remained as Presiding Officer until he had supervised the election of his successor George Reid on 7 May of that year.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Steel

  • @George
    I see nothing but national disaster in this “winner take all nightmare”.
    No one will win in either no deal or 100% remain.
    An election will happen sooner or later and the vengeful losers will strike back and the running sore will never heal.
    I have very little hope, at all in this eleventh hour, for the harmony in my country but here is my hopeless dream (it’s in good company on this thread).
    The Remain side takes the second referendum off the table because that is the actual attack on those who voted leave and that is the disrespect for those who voted trustlingly in the first.
    Then offer to use the extension to agree a Norway style arrangement and to support that through the House with an election afterwards.
    After tempers have cooled, in a few years, open the question again.
    This will be moderated out, I am sure, but if 17 million people are left feeling ” cheated” out of their honest vote they will use their ballot papers to find someone much worse than Johnson.

  • Richard Underhill. 5th Oct '19 - 4:19pm

    frankie Thank you. Perhaps I should have put quote marks around it.

  • Alisdair McGregor 5th Oct '19 - 6:01pm

    We should not back a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government for the simple reason that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-semite.

    In addition to this, there is absolutely no way that the party would vote 2/3rds in favour of such a move at the Special Conference which would be required under Article 23 of the federal party constitution.

  • margaret – thankyou for your intelligent and patient posts in here. This site is too often an echo chamber for the same old voices (mine included). I think it probably takes some guts to jump in and say your piece, but it is refreshing when people do – as long as they are as honest and polite as you are.
    I really do feel your passion to stop Brexit. We are doing our best. But the more votes we get the stronger our voice will be, so I hope your (and your friends’) habit continues!

  • John Marriott 5th Oct '19 - 7:21pm

    My, you folks HAVE been busy. Johnson has all the cards does he? Well, that depends on whether or not the ‘opposition’ can get its act together. Firstly, any Tories thinking of opposing their Leader by supporting a Confidence Motion will not do it if JC is likely to be heading a GNU. The same applies to the remaining TIGs. In this, Lib Dems are minor players. Much will depend also on whether Labour is prepared to play ball. I’m pretty sure that the SNP, Plaid and the Green will back a Motion, regardless of who the ‘leader’ of a GNU might eventually be.

    However, what happens if there is movement across the Channel with the Johnson proposals? If so, then we could have a deal, which might get parliamentary approval before 31 October. What then?

  • David Allen 5th Oct '19 - 8:24pm

    George Kendall: “If the Lib Dems support Corbyn as PM our support will collapse, which means in the following election the Tories will take all the LibDem/Tory marginals, they will get a majority, and then push through a no deal.” Here’s why that’s wrong:

    When the Lib Dems rise in the polls, it’s generally because a larger party has become unpopular, and some of its supporters have decided to rebel. A question sometimes asked of such rebel voters, by pollsters, has been – If the Lib Dems didn’t exist, which way would you vote? And the common finding has been – About half of the rebels would return to their traditional allegiance, but about half would “go the whole hog” and cross over – from Labour to Tory, or vice versa.

    This would suggest that Lib Dem temporary backing for Corbyn as interim PM would probably make little net difference to the Lib Dem vote. However, the analysis is incomplete. Commonly, the Lib Dems are in the “middle of the road” – but on Brexit, we are not. We have picked up lots of votes from strong Remainers. Labour occupy the middle of the road, while the Tories, of course, are on the opposite side.

    So – If you are an ex-Tory voter planning to vote Lib Dem over Brexit, and you see the Lib Dems doing something practical to stop No Deal Brexit, how might you respond? Probably favourably, I’d suggest – unless an interim Corbyn government were actually to bring in Venezuelan socialist measures, which of course Lib Dems can make sure does not happen! The Lib Dems will, of course, point out that they have no intention whatsoever to keep Corbyn on in office, after the election now taking place.

    If you are an ex-Labour voter planning to vote Lib Dem over Brexit, and you see the Lib Dems doing something practical to stop No Deal Brexit in concert with Labour, how might you respond? Favourably, definitely!

    So – The idea that working with Corbyn will cause Lib Dem support to collapse is nonsensical. It might even increase Lib Dem support! In any case, a handful of Lib Dem marginals are unlikely to decide the next election. Sorry, but realistically, it will be the Tory – Labour contest that is decisive, as always.

    If we could make either Corbyn or a neutral figure an interim PM, then we would be much more likely to avoid no deal. The voters can see that. If nobody can make the numbers stack up, for one or the other of these options, then the Lib Dems amongst others will be seen to have failed.

  • Thank you TonyH.I feel that the LibDems are the only authentic and sensible, straightforward party around at the moment and thank you for the patience and courtesy shown. I have mainly voted Labour in the past, but it breaks your heart seeing the leadership ducking and diving, trying to be all things to all men, with Keir Starmer continually being shafted by the leadership, who fai!ed the country badly during the referendum and after.Even my son, who has no interest in politics and would be further ” right” along the spectrum than me, ( if left/right means anything anymore ) has just announced that he will vote Libdem, as he works in business and can see the wrecking ball hovering.
    I think that your party is just in it for the good of the country and you will certainly get my vote Thank you.

  • I’d genuinely like to ask all those commenting above the following question:

    If Labour bring forward a motion of no-confidence as expected in mid-late October, the Lib Dems are going to do what, sit on their hands and allow it to fail and a no deal Brexit to happen?

    Do you have any idea how that will play in the subsequent election?

    Jo Swinson faces a tough battle with the SNP already based on current polls.

  • Ross McLean 5th Oct '19 - 9:51pm

    Andy – we have always said we will support a VONC. But it needs to gain a majority. The reason we are against a Corbyn government is because that very prospect will make it less likely that the independent ex-Tories (and even ex-Labour MPs) will vote for the VONC. So actually, we are the ones trying to stop No Deal, in the real world.
    Read the exchanges with ‘margaret’ in this thread. She started off essentially taking your line, but after some discussion in which she actually listened and engaged with us, she has graciously admitted that ‘things are more complicated than [I] first thought’, and that we are doing the right thing.

  • Mick Taylor 5th Oct '19 - 9:52pm

    Alisdair McGregor: The special conference only applies if we actually go into coalition, not if we support it from the back benches.
    My view is that we have the VONC and get rid of Johnson and then have a series of votes until Parliament finds a person who can command a majority. As I have pointed out before (and I understand twitter is awash with similar comments) the decision over which person would become PM is not ours. Lab + Green+SNP + Lib Dem is insufficient for a majority, so unless a significant number of ex Tory and Independent MPs support the creation of a GNU. or a GOAT it won’t happen. I suggest that there will be no majority for a Government led by Mr Corbyn, whether we support it or not.
    (There is one way it could happen and that’s if the Tories abstain and then we wouldn’t have to vote for it anyway, but does anyone seriously think that Boris will whip his MPs to give the keys to No 10 to Jeremy Corbyn?!)
    If Labour are serious about stopping no deal, then we need to get the token Corbyn Government vote out of the way and then proceed to put in place a government that will stop No Deal, get a lengthy extension and then let’s have a GE when we at least can campaign for what we believe in, Revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU.

  • Katharine Pindar 5th Oct '19 - 9:53pm

    Supposing the EU negotiators were to say to Boris Johnson, “Prime Minister, you have produced some interesting new ideas here, but more time is needed for us to work out fully their implications and develop them if necessary in due consultation with you. We suggest therefore giving the UK an extension until the end of January 2020, or rather longer as required if your country decides on a further referendum or another general election.”
    Just a peaceable thought.

  • Mick Taylor 5th Oct '19 - 9:57pm

    Andy. The question is not that the party won’t support a VONC, we’ve already said we will. The question is what happens afterwards. The VONC doesn’t decide who will be PM. After a VONC parliament has 14 days to elect a new government or there will be a GE. It is imperative to find a temporary PM who will lead a government that will ask for a lengthy extension, stop ‘NO Deal’ and then have a GE.
    Much as you might want that government to be led by Mr Corbyn, the evidence is that he cannot get a majority in the present House of Commons. Trying to blame my party for that just won’t wash. See my comments above.

  • Alisdair McGregor 5th Oct '19 - 10:53pm

    Mick Taylor: Incorrect. Even Confidence and Supply requires the approval of a Special Conference. See Article 23.1:

    “This Article applies where the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
    (‘the Commons Party’) enters into negotiations with one or more other political
    parties with a view to the formation of a government supported by the party and
    such party or parties”

  • John Marriott 5th Oct '19 - 10:57pm

    @Mick Taylor
    It would appear that you and I appear to be singing more or less from the same hymn sheet regarding a Confidence Motion (see my post at 7.21pm). However, don’t you think that it would be a good idea if those, who were contemplating such a momentous move, had some idea of the person who would likely be leading an alternative government if the motion proved successful?

    You are also right in that the Lib Dems should not shoulder the blame if the move fails. The key to its success has got to be those ‘independent’ Tories, who would be prepared to lend their support . Interesting also would be how many of the Mann/Hoey/Nandy brigade might defy a Labour three line whip.

  • David Allen 5th Oct '19 - 11:49pm

    Mick Taylor (and other recent posters),

    We’re edging towards a common understanding here. A VONC before October 31st is imperative, barring the unlikely possibilities of Johnson getting a deal, or Johnson himself asking for and getting an extension.

    If necessary Labour can call the VONC without specifically naming Corbyn as replacement PM. Labour can then point out that the VONC that has just been successful will nevertheless prove to be worse than useless, if no alternative PM is chosen within the 14 days.

    Numbers then become important. Currently Tories plus DUP = 298, Labour plus SNP plus Lib Dems + Plaid + Green = 304, TIG plus ex-Tories =26. A VONC clearly works best if the third group of 26 support it, which could happen under threat of No Deal with a neutral PM. But it could also work if that third group of 26 were to abstain, which they would probably do, irrespective of the replacement PM, if the alternative was immediate No Deal Brexit.

    A neutral or non-Corbyn-Labour PM might work, but there are snags. First, as George Kendall admits, “a major reason Corbyn doesn’t want a compromise figure leading an emergency government is … (because) a compromise figure might somewhat undermine his authority”. Well, not arf, George! You would agree George, no doubt, that Labour is a nest of vipers constantly at each others’ throats? Well then, realise that a compromise figure is a massive threat to the stability of the Labour Party (which is probably one of the reasons Swinson is so keen on such a figure!) So secondly, if Labour were to concede on this, Labour would need a huge quid pro quo to persuade them to do so. Total Labour control of the interim government, with the PM treated as a puppet figure, might gain Labour’s acceptance.

    Would that be the least worst compromise? I would suggest that a Corbyn premiership, and a majority non-Labour Cabinet, might be preferable.

  • Opinium – Field work 3/4 Oct:

    Con – 38%
    Lab – 23%
    LD – 15%
    Grn – 4%
    BXP – 12%

    A little out of line with other recent polls, but it’s easy to see why Johnson is keen on a GE.

  • Thanks for all the replies.

    To @Mick Taylor. I’m honestly not interested in whether Corbyn gets to lead or not. If he’d stand aside for Beckett or Clarke now, I ‘d say Hallelujah,and be relieved. The new caretaker PM will be tasked with two things to do : prevent no deal by getting an extension and calling an election. Of course, organising a referendum would take much longer, you’d need months. So that’s highly unlikely.

    The simple fact is, under our system the official leader of the opposition is asked first . That’s just how it is, and Jo Swinson knows the precedent thus that’s what makes her objections and intransigence frustrating more concerned about preventing no deal then playing tribal politics.

    Jo should never have tried to tie the VONC to Corbyn like she has. If Corbyn hasn’t got the numbers, that could’ve handled at the time by finding an alternative.

  • Seems like the Liberal Democrats are losing their position on Brexit to Labour

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/06/poll-shows-conservative-party-15-points-ahead-of-labour
    “Among remain voters, the Liberal Democrats have dropped seven points in a week, with Labour gaining nine points among the same pool of voters who voted to stay in the European Union.”

    “However, Labour has lost as many voters among leavers. According to the survey only 8% of leave voters now say they would back Labour in a general election”

    Con – 38%
    Lab – 23%
    LD – 15%
    Grn – 4%
    BXP – 12%

    Over to you Paul Barker for your analysis

  • Arnold Kiel 6th Oct '19 - 9:34am

    If a VONC succeeds, but no emergency-Government emerges before Oct. 31, the EU would be well advised to unilaterally declare an extension. It cannot allow no-deal Brexit to happen without a sitting UK legislature. Parliament could not respond, and it would be extremely bold for Government during the purdah-period and the middle of an election-campaign to reject this. I am no expert but doubt that it could do so with legal effect. Also, all Brexit-related pending legislation would have fallen. An acceptance would probably work in practice and is likely to be upheld in the supreme court, at least until after the GE. As a result, all Brexit-options would survive the GE which would be fought on them (and nothing else).

  • @Arnold
    If a VONC is successful but no new government transpires Boris will still be Prime Minister as the UK can never be without a Government or Prime Minister. That prime minister stays in place until the results of an election are known.

    If we end up with another hung parliament. Boris will still remain as Prime Minister as did Gordon Brown in 2010 whilst negotiations take place between parties on who can form a Government.

    It is not for the EU to unilaterally declare a Brexit Extension without the UK governments consent for one.

    I am no expert but i thought Purudah as far as I understand this is a period when Governments are not allowed to announce “NEW” policies or legislature and since our leaving the EU on oct 31st is not “new” and is existing legislature already written into law, i fail to see how purudah applies in this instance

  • Corbyn will be happy when the country Brexits, either with his own deal or, failing that, with Boris Johnson. After that, he could continue to bitterly oppose, which is his favourite position. What he doesn’t want is for the country to remain in the EU.

  • @matt

    We already know an extension isn’t popular. A sizeable chunk of the UK population think(wrongly imho) that Johnson is trying to get the best possible deal and being thwarted by the opposition parties, therefore these polls at this stage aren’t surprising.

    It is essential that the opposition parties having come this far follow through, on the VONC and temporary govt. To not do so would be huge folly reaping all the negatives and none of the political upside that can be gained in the extension.

  • @Andy

    ” therefore these polls at this stage aren’t surprising.”
    You’re not surprised that Liberal Democrats have lost 7% of the remain vote to Labour? I would be pretty alarmed if I were you and wondering where the message is going wrong.

    “It is essential that the opposition parties having come this far follow through, on the VONC and temporary govt”
    But a temporary government is not going to happen unless it under Corbyn, Corbyn and Mcdonald “mostly mcdonald” who is really pulling the strings will never allow it to happen unless it is lead by Corbyn,
    So this poses a real dilemma for the Liberal Democrats, does the lady do a U-Turn and get behind Corbyn, even if she knows it will fail amongst Ex- Tories, however, she will be able to maintain that she did what she thought was in the national interest to have the best chance of securing an extension? Or does she maintain the Gun-Ho approach to slamming labour and Corbyn and risking everything?
    Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to see Labour in power, albeit temporarily under Corbyn and Mcdonald and as a Brexiteer I hope as I suspect that the remainers coup is going to fall flat on its backside.

  • I agree with Andy that a fall in poll ratings is unsurprising.
    The LibDem position has become
    We demand the govt hold a second referendum because that is the democratic and fair way forward. Brexit should not be decided at a general election as Johnson wants because elections are about many topics, not just Brexit.
    However, if we actually do become the govt ignore all the above. We’ll just revoke.

    I’m surprised it’s still 15%.

  • @matt

    We don’t know the Lib Dems have lost votes to Labour in some direct transfer from just one poll, especially from one coming post the Tory conference bounce.

    My point wasn’t specifically addressing your point tbh, it was a more general observation, about how the public, being fed up with Brexit as they are , see Johnson ‘s appeal of ‘Let’s get it done’ as having superficially attractive appeal. Worth noting in the same poll Johnson is only at 36% in his personal approval rating; let’s not forget May was registering 60%+ in April 2017, roughly two months before the last election , so there is everything to play for.

  • Paul Barker 6th Oct '19 - 12:26pm

    Can I appeal for calm about That Poll ?
    There are some basic rules for reading The Polls –
    dont get too excited about a single Poll
    the more dramatic a Poll is, the more likely it is to be an Outlier
    a single Poll that contradicts the recent trends may indicate a sudden shift but its more likely that it doesnt.
    15% for the Libdems is out of line with most recent Polls but we got a 16% just over a Month ago, that didnt turn out to signal a shift.
    Currently The Libdems are averaging 21% with Labour around 24% & The Tories 32%.
    If we get a 2nd Poll showing a big drop in our support that is the time to get excited.

  • Opinium like Comm Res does I believe poll noting how people voted last time and making adjustments for that. YouGov and Ipsos do not. Therefore Opinium y usually show the Lib Dems at a lower level than some other polls and were at 15% give or take at the time of the Euros. Up to May it was usually 6 -7%. I was very suprised when they went from 17% to 20% in their previous poll. They may be right but I have a caveat on it. The next YOUGOV may or may not confirm.
    What nobody knows is if the next election will conform to normal voting patterns or be all over the place. For myself I have to accept that in 360 constituencies where we lost £180K deposits last time round, we do not realistically have much chance other to save our deposit this time. We need the 15 – 20% to be concentrated in those 100 or so seats where we have a reasonable vote.

  • @theakes

    Despite being a minority govt the Tories basically still control the media agenda and that’s reflected in the polls. Labour and the Lib Dems, SNP and others don’t get a fair shake, everyone here will know that. That’s why the rewards from grabbing control – a show of opposition strength by removing Johnson in a VONC – is so important for ALL the opposition parties. To seize the power is to seize that agenda. What political strength Johnson has is bound to his power of incumbency.

  • While I understand Swinson wanting to avoid alienating potential Lib Dem-voting ex-Tories, isn’t this still rather a risky strategy? I mean ultimately it seems that the Lib Dem’s refusal to even consider Corbyn as a temporary PM to ask for an extension is risking a No Deal outcome. And in the event of a No Deal won’t a lot of pro-EU moderate Tories just go back to voting Tory, given that the main reason for their alienation from the party, that is, a desire to avoid No Deal, has now become irrelevant.

    Ultimately, the Lib Dems are the party most wedded to EU membership, so it would seem they have the most to lose by a No Deal. That’s why some have theorized that Labour has been quite intransigent about insisting that Corby must lead any temporary government – basically, because they can afford to risk No Deal more than the Lib Dems and they believe that ultimately the Lib Dems will ultimately have to cave in and agree to Corbyn as leader to avoid the UK crashing out of the EU. I can certainly see Labour gleefully blaming the Lib Dems (as well as the Tories) if No Deal happens before a General Election. Yes, it could also be argued that they are as much to blame in such an event, however, it seems like it would work more against the Lib Dems as support for the EU is much more a vital aspect of the Lib Dems’ electoral appeal than it is for Labour.

    A comparative example might be the SNP, who have been far more pragmatic about doing what is necessary to avoid No Deal, despite the fact that realistically they have less to lose from a No Deal than the Lib Dems (support for Scottish independence is likely to increase, at least a little in a No Deal scenario).

  • chris moore 6th Oct '19 - 2:52pm

    @Paul Barker If we get a 2nd Poll showing a big drop in our support that is the time to get excited.
    theakes 6th Oct ’19 – 12:52pm
    Opinium like Comm Res does I believe poll noting how people voted last time and making adjustments for that.

    All pollsters make adjustments to raw figures of one sort or another..

    Opinum got the Euros spectacularly wrong and have usually given the Lib Dems much lower percentages of the vote than other companies.

    It’s the overall trend of all polls that is important. Two polls isn’t enough either.

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th Oct '19 - 3:01pm

    @ Paul Barker,
    I would not be prepared to get too excited about any poll given the current febrile situation.

    One thing does worry me about recent poll results, and it should worry anyone who is opposed to Boris Johnson’s political behaviour. The Conservative Party under his leadership, has become the party that is consistently ahead in the polls, and by some margin.

    The main opposition parties are not cutting through.

  • Denis Loretto 6th Oct '19 - 3:09pm

    I have just noticed that Richard Underhill asked me way back in this thread to comment on how the “consent” clause in the Johnson proposal on Ireland could be adapted to make it more acceptable. I reckon it would have to be reversed i.e. the methodology first laid down would remain unless a majority of both unionists and nationalists voted to remove it. However in no way would this make the overall proposal acceptable. It runs a coach and horses through the increasing co-operation and rapport between both parts of Ireland which are at the root of the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Paul Barker 6th Oct '19 - 3:51pm

    On how well The Tories are doing, we have to remember that we are not yet in an Election Campaign so most Voters are paying very little attention to the Political Drama that excites people like us. Johnson will be listened to simply because he is The PM, for now.
    The Tory average of around 32% looks good compared to Labours 24% or Our 21% but its still a whopping 10% down on the Last Election, just 2 Years ago.
    We have gained 15% over the last 2 Years, we need to gain another 12% to form a Government, its way too soon to get jubilant or despairing.

  • @George Kendall

    The soft-Tory fear of Corbyn, is overstated , it’s really only the fear of the press caricature. Much of it may melt away in an election when the manifesto is published and those same Tory voters collectively say they rather like Labour’s proposals, on say elderly residential care or scrapping tuition fees. Certainly, that’s what happened in 2017 – Labour wouldn’t have polled 40% had it not. Again, in 2017 they started the campaign from a very low base, some polls had them 23% behind the Tories! And Theresa’s May’s personal ratings were far higher than Johnson’s now : TM had 60%+ to Johnson’s 36% in the latest poll.

    Miliband was in virtually the same position in 2015 too; the Daily Mail had articles with the hammer and sickle displayed, warning of the dangers of a Miliband govt. Now, with hindsight do you think those caricatures of Miliband as some far-left bogeyman were fair?

  • I no longer trust polls, nor the media (including the BBC)…

    As an example the BBC 6pm news visited a constituency which had, so they said, voted 60%+ to ‘Remain’; of the three interviewees, two were ‘Leavers’.
    Is this just ‘luck’ or an ‘agenda’? I see far fewer ‘Remainers’ interviewed than those who still support Leave.

    Or, maybe it’s just me?

  • Not much reported by the press but ipsosMORI released this recently:

    ipsosMORI polling on the real state of public opinion.

    Satisfaction with how the government is running the country

    Satisfied 14%
    Dissatisfied 81%
    Net -67

    Since 1977, only Major and May’s government’s experienced worse ratings…
    ——————————————-
    That tells us public opinion is very fluid. Yes, Johnson may have provisional Brexit support, but it’s not unqualified or entrenched in any sense. The GB public are far from happy and everything is up for grabs.

  • David Allen 6th Oct '19 - 5:35pm

    George Kendall,

    You are undoubtedly right to say that the Tories will often use the slogan “Vote Lib Dem, get Labour”, and that there can be a strong case for taking guard against that slogan, for example by ruling out (anything but temporary emergency government) coalition. However, in Tory – Lib Dem marginals, it is also vital to squeeze the Labour vote, and that won’t happen if / when the Lib Dems have snuggled up to the Tories while staying aloof from Labour.

    I notice that you pick the year 1992 to illustrate your argument, when the Labour leader then painted as a bogeyman by the Tories was Neil Kinnock. Actually, the Tories routinely demonise whoever is the current Labour leader, and swear blind that he is a far greater evil than any of his predecessors (Tony Blair, to whom the Tories gave “demon eyes” in their famous poster, being the most literal example!) Once upon a time, the Lib Dems refused to play Little Sir Echo to the Tories. Since Clegg, sadly they often do.

    Corbyn has serious faults, agreed. But he doesn’t have Miliband’s indecisiveness, and he’s not as bad a control freak as Brown was. More to the point, he’s not a clear and present danger to democracy, as Johnson is. We have to find ways of working with Labour as they are. Otherwise, by default we will favour Johnson, No Deal Brexit, and national disaster.

  • @George Kendall

    And why is Corbyn so unpopular now? In large part because the logic for seeking an extension is widely misunderstood as is Labour’s promise of a referendum with a ‘remain’ option. ‘Get Brexit done’ is a nice little slogan for the Tories, casting Labour and Lib Dems and SNP as the ‘bad guys’ trying to frustrate Brexit as they, the Tories, would have it. We know it’s more complicated than that and the Tories’ are being wholly untruthful and reckless.

    I wouldn’t put as much store by the ‘snapshot’ that are opinion polls. It’s worth considering Corbyn’s popularity, in terms of the question : who would make the best PM? in April 2017, was recorded at 23% to Theresa May’s 61% , two months later, post the June election, the same polling company recorded Corbyn and May tied at 40% when the same question was put. Corbyn remained at similar levels for months, until the tabloids and PLP sniping brought his numbers low again. Jo Swinson’s numbers aren’t exactly thrilling at the moment either. Were she seen as a real threat, the horrible negative, one-sided tabloid articles would come too, bringing her to low levels of popularity as happened to Clegg while in the coalition.

    What I’m trying to say, is public opinion is fickle and fluid, most people aren’t political nerds like we are. They see political figures only as the Tory tabloids and slanted TV pundits present them. An election campaign with TV leaders’ debates, campaign rallies with supporters cheering, and interviews where opposing views finally get a hearing, can change perceptions. It’s not guaranteed, but it can happen.

    And just because something isn’t popular doesn’t mean it should be abandoned; it can never be popular. One of the big reasons we aren’t using some system of proportional representation, like every other country in Europe, is because people simply aren’t aware of the alternative ways of doing things or how our current system is unfair, no doubt FPTP is ‘popular’ whatever that means. I’d rather lose pursuing what’s right than bending to tabloid perpetuated ignorance.

  • David Allen 6th Oct ’19 – 5:35pm……………………….. More to the point, he’s not a clear and present danger to democracy, as Johnson is. We have to find ways of working with Labour as they are. Otherwise, by default we will favour Johnson, No Deal Brexit, and national disaster……………..

    It is common knowledge that if Corbyn ever became PM (no matter how temporarily) he would have Stasi police on every corner within hours, Gulags on Hayling Island and HM and her family in the Tower.

    Please don’t ever make such a suggestion again.

  • Katharine Pindar 6th Oct '19 - 11:29pm

    It was always bold and risky for the party, led by our leader’s wishes, to put Revoke albeit in certain unlikely conditions ahead of the party’s established policy of supporting another referendum. The decisiveness was likely to attract some remain-wishing voters, but others might be put off by feeling that the democratic solution is, still, to put the question to the people again. Now that the pollsters are finding an increasing proportion of voters preferring Remain rather than to leave at all, it seems a poor time to be sidelining our long-established policy,, and we can only hope that the drop in support evident in one poll will not be followed up in others. For my part, having opposed the new policy at Conference, I will be minimising it when talking to voters, suggesting that the democratic way forward is still to have a People’s Vote as soon as possible. We did after all claim leadership of that widely supported campaign.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '19 - 6:59am

    @Andy: I suspect that Jo is far more politically astute than Clegg was. Anyway you are confusing two separate issues, namely the campaign against Clegg after the Cleggmania bounce in 2010, and his record unpopularity during the Coalition (which was a result of his mishandling of the Coalition). The Lib Dems squandered the Cleggmania bounce because Nick was unable to counter the tabloid attacks that followed (we also messed up our targeting strategy). Incidentally, you are wrong when you say Jo isn’t seen as a threat — the very reason for this article is the orchestrated attacks on us by Labour intending to pin the blame on us for any failure of the anti-Brexit campaign. However, we are not in an election campaign (yet), so we do not yet know for certain how Jo would handle the kind of attacks that we would experience in that environment. Signs so far are promising, in that she is better at countering attacks and playing political hardball than was Clegg, whose problem was always that he was far too Brickley Paiste, always behaving as though his opponents were playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules even when they obviously weren’t.

    Don’t think that Corbyn’s popularity will necessarily rise in the next election campaign as it did in 2017, when he was still relatively unknown and had got more abuse than actual scrutiny. The Jezmania bubble has burst, and he has had a lot more proper scrutiny since then, especially over his position on Brexit and on anti-Semitism.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '19 - 7:11am

    David Allen: The days of Lib Dems “playing Little Sir Echo to the Tories” ended when Clegg left the party leadership, but actually his problem was that he didn’t know how to play political hardball, whoever his opponent was. So he crumbled under the mostly right-wing attacks on us in the 2010 election campaign following the Cleggmania bounce, and then allowed collapsed under attacks from both left and right during the Coalition and the 2015 election campaign.
    Jo has called Johnson “unfit to govern” and a lot of other things besides; how is that echoing the Tories? We refused to prop up the Tories after May unexpectedly lost her majority in the 2017 election; how is that echoing the Tories?

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct ’19 – 6:59am………………….the very reason for this article is the orchestrated attacks on us by Labour intending to pin the blame on us for any failure of the anti-Brexit campaign. However, we are not in an election campaign (yet), so we do not yet know for certain how Jo would handle the kind of attacks that we would experience in that environment. Signs so far are promising,…………

    To coin a phrase, “I don’t believe it!”.

    Would this be the same Jeremy Corbyn who proposed talks tp unify all opposition parties to defeat a ‘No-Deal’ Breaxit (a suggestion that Jo Swinson initial;ly called, “Nonsense”)?
    Far from putting obstacles in the way Labour have been trying (and suceeding with all other opposition paries) to get a unified approach and, far from attacking Jo Swinson (BTW perhaps you could give me an instance of Jeremy Corbyn vilifying Jo Swinson in the manner of her attacking him?) want to work together.

    As for suggestions of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Marxism and Antisemitism’..Please leave them to the right wing tabloids.

  • Richard Underhill. 7th Oct '19 - 9:29am

    Denis Loretto 6th Oct ’19 – 3:09pm Thank you.
    I heard a Sinn Fein commentator on the BBC recently answering questions about the Assembly and devolved government. He seemed to think that the only issue was their relationship with the DUP. Is there any mileage in the Assembly meeting without necessarily going through the next stage?
    I saw a programme some months ago in which Naomi Long, sitting in some part of the Stormont building, said that she would be willing to go into coalition with the DUP but there would be a long list of conditions which BBC NI did not give her time to enumerate.
    There has also been vox pop from the streets in which people were saying that there should be a meeting of the Assembly, but not this Assembly. Is an early election a possibility? If so what might be different?

  • @expats
    You have no need to view the right wing press for evidence of Corbyn’s Marxism. Consult years of the Morning Star, the journal of the communist party of Great Britain, wherein he has written hundreds of columns. That should convince even you.
    I agree, though, that charges of antisemitism are disgraceful fabrication by his enemies. He has simply been upholding the rights of the Palestinians (so do I).

  • Richard Underhill. 7th Oct '19 - 9:52am

    SNP MP Ian Blackford has hinted about a possible deal with Labour, which would involve/require Labour support for another referendum in Scotland on independence.
    An unnamed Labour spokesman said that Labour does not do deals with anybody,
    (which ignores their existing long-term relationship with the Co-operative Party.)

  • Richard Underhill. 7th Oct '19 - 10:10am

    Hard Rain 7th Oct ’19 – 9:32am May I suggest an usual book?
    Mine enemy
    Peter Halban Publishers Ltd, London W1Y 2HB
    Amalia (Argaman) and Aharon Barnea
    translated by Chaya Amir
    Reviewed by John le Carre’
    “Salah Ta’mari’s extraordinary story is surely as compelling and moving as the man himself. I am very pleased that the Barneas have written of their experience of Salah, and of the inspiration of peace and reconciliation which Salah is so capable of inspiring. This is a timely and important book.”

  • Richard Underhill. 7th Oct '19 - 10:15am

    Alex Macfie 7th Oct ’19 – 7:11am ” actually his problem was”, NO. He had multiple problems which should be avoided in future. There are multiple confessions in “Politics between the extreme”

  • David Allen 7th Oct '19 - 10:50am

    Alex Macfie,

    “The days of Lib Dems “playing Little Sir Echo to the Tories” ended when Clegg left the party leadership”

    Up to a point. Farron and Cable both tended toward embarrassed silence over the Coalition record. Swinson and Davey (acting, it seems to me, more or less in concert) developed a slicker narrative, apologising for some of the more egregious misdeeds while boasting about the overall achievements of Coalition. Alongside this, the Lib Dems have maintained an enthusiastic dialogue with and support for Remain-leaning politicians within the Conservative Party. How much have we heard of any similar levels of co-operation or encouragement for Remain-leaning Labour politicians like Hilary Benn, Keir Starmer, or Tom Watson? Not a lot!

    “Jo has called Johnson “unfit to govern” and a lot of other things besides; how is that echoing the Tories?”

    Talking tough can sometimes be a camouflage for failing to act tough. As things stand, the Lib Dems have frustrated efforts by the SNP and (to a lesser extent) Labour to stop No Deal Brexit, and have not yet managed to put any alternative solution in their place. That is not something to take pride in.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Oct '19 - 10:56am

    I’m just going to point out to those who are considering the relative merits of naming an alternative prime minister in a vote of no confidence that they can’t. The wording of a VONC is specified in the Fixed Term Parliament Act. When Labour tried to put down a non-FTPA motion of no confidence in the PM last December, the Speaker refused even to hold a debate on it, and the existence of the prescribed form makes any other sort of confidence motion, to coin a phrase, “advisory”…
    The Commons gets to vote that it has not, or that it has, confidence in the government. It doesn’t get to elect a new PM. (Maybe that’s something we should change in the future…)

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '19 - 11:18am

    @expats: I actually wrote “Brexit and antisemitism”. Although I do think Corbyn is a Marxist (he hasn’t updated his politics since his days as a student revolutionary), his deep-seated hostility to the EEC/EC/EU is far more important a problem. And on that issue, he is on side with the right-wing tabloids, even if their Euro-hostility is for different reasons to Corbyn.
    And no, Corbyn isn’t just “upholding the rights of the Palestinians”. The suggestion isn’t that he is himself anti-Semitic, but that he tolerates it among his supporters in the Palestinian cause. I agree with Layla Moran’s take on the issue; you can stand up for the Palestinian people without being anti-semitic or tolerating anti-Semitism, but Corbyn fails this test. But then, he probably thinks Layla’s a sell-out for disavowing pro-Palestinian extremists (when he thinks the extremists like Hamas are the only groups that matter) and for being a Palestinian Christian.

  • Anyone would think it is the Lib Dems who are preventing a GNU with Corbyn as PM, of cause that isn’t the case you’d need this crew and they say

    So believe it or not, the 21 Tory MPs expelled from the parliamentary Conservative party, plus Rudd who quit, today refused to support opposition MPs who wanted to put down an SO24 motion that would have allowed MPs to seize control of parliament’s business on any day between…

    https://twitter.com/Peston/status/1181134112045834245

    An inconvenient truth without the Tory rebels a GNU isn’t possible and they won’t vote for Corbyn, so Jo is stopping the GNU is just so much (word fail me, well they don’t really but they’d never get by the nice test).

  • David Allen,

    I suspect the party leadership are talking to soft Tories for they have no home and there is no way back for them into the Reactionary and DisUnionist party ( well no way back if they wish to keep any self regard). I also expect they are talking to a number of soon to be homeless Labour MP’s (again for them, no way back if they wish to keep any self regard). But hope and delusion spring eternal and they may well stay wavering on the fence hoping their respective parties come to their senses and thus never quite get round to joining the lib Dem ship.

    To those that say “Do we want them”, alas under FPTP parties have to be broad churches or is that big ships and it is a certainty you’ll be enjoying the service or is it cruise with people you really don’t have much in common with.

  • David Allen 7th Oct '19 - 12:41pm

    frankie said: “An inconvenient truth without the Tory rebels a GNU isn’t possible and they won’t vote for Corbyn”

    Well, as your Twitter thread indicates, one thing that’s concerning them right now is the need to avoid feeding into the Johnson / Cummings (bogus) narrative that if only the UK don’t “surrender”, the EU will cave at the last minute. In a week’s time, the EU will have made it quite clear to everyone that they won’t cave (because caving would hurt the EU more than not caving!), and that concern will drop away.

    The second thing that is concerning the Tory rebels is, why go to the trouble of taking a risk on GNU, when the Benn Act, if it works, will save them the bother? A perfectly valid concern. Again, time will tell. If Johnson swiftly capitulates to the Benn Act after October 19th, then yes, we can all move on without (at this stage, at any rate) needing a GNU. But what if he wriggles, and we are all staring down the barrel at No Deal Brexit?

    In those circumstances, all Johnson’s opponents face a stark choice. Either the Lib Dems / rebel Tories climb down, or Corbyn climbs down, or it’s NDB. Decision time. Simply to yammer that your red line is redder than the other side’s red line is just going to look silly.

    One resolution could be that the rebel Tories abstain on the VONC and its follow-up, thus preserving their credibility as future re-entrants to the Tory Party, having never voted for Corbyn. That could be enough to enable the VONC to pass. The rebel Tories could then, indeed, try promoting an alternative Tory (Jeremy Hunt, say?) as the new Tory-based-consensus PM. That, in turn, might drive Labour to show some belated flexibility (which it’s about time they did).

    Finally to those who say all this “fevered speculation” is a waste of time. Doesn’t it matter to find a way to avoid No Deal Brexit? Or is it that party advantage comes first, and that all this talk of GNU brings the threat that Lib Dems might be forced to put the national interest first instead?

  • Just been announced in the court of session that Boris Johnson will not be forced to ask for an extension or face contempt of court. In other words Boris can defy the law and get away with it. We are leaving the EU and once that happens there will be no going back, no ifs no buts, a sad day.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '19 - 1:04pm

    David Allen: The Tory remainers lost the party Whip. They are no longer officially Conservatives. Jo is said to be in talks with Remain-leaning MPs in both main parties, but is hardly going to name any of them. That’s not how it works. If a bunch of Labour MPs lose the whip for defying Corbyn to vote for a pro-Remain position, then we can publicly court them.

    And as for “Talking tough can sometimes be a camouflage for failing to act tough”, well in that case we can’t win either way. So you really think Jo might be publicly criticising Johnson and the Tories, while secretly negotiating a future deal with them? If so, then you could just as easily say the same about Lib Dem criticism of Corbyn (and BTW our criticism is specifically about Corbyn and his coterie, not the Labour Party as a whole).

    We’re NOT frustrating efforts to stop no-deal Brexit, we are saying that the Labour/SNP plan will not achieve that. And we do have an alternative plan, which is to have a current backbench MP as Prime Minister (and this can be done, via a Humble Address). But actually the time for a caretaker government is after the extension letter is safely sent. And Johnson, for all his bluster, is not going to be able to get around that. The concern is if we help Corbyn into No 10, then Johnson will win a majority in the subsequent election, because the Tories successfully use the “Vote Jo get Jeremy” tactic against us.

    And our strategy for addressing the Coalition is, on balance, the right one. Publicly disavowing it in its entirety would not work, and fewer and fewer people care about it with each day that passes. But that’s not really the point anyway. My point is that our post-Clegg leaders have not taken the same approach to our opponents (whether Tories or Labour) as Nick Clegg did, but have instead been much more robust and combative. The best way to illustrate the contrast between the Clegg and post-Clegg approaches, compare our withdrawal from the Haltemprice & Howden by-election (caused by David Davis’ vanity regulation supposedly over civil liberties) under Clegg in 2008, with the Richmond Park by-election of 2016, also caused by a right-wing Tory resigning supposedly over a “principle” on which the Lib Dems happened to agree; this time we contested the by-election and won.

  • David Allen 7th Oct '19 - 1:08pm

    “It often puzzles me when I meet the occasional Lib Dem who talks as if an alliance with Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t harm our chances of unseating Tory MPs.”

    Don’t twist words. We are not talking about an alliance with Jeremy Corbyn. We are talking about a temporary caretaker government in which Corbyn, if nominally PM, would be the prisoner of his temporary non-Labour partners. If Corbyn were to deviate from the agreed script, he would be out again before you could blink. Knowing that, he’d have to negotiate a suitable script and then stick to it.

    Knowing that, how would Tory / Lib Dem wavering Remain-ish voters view events, at an election to be held after the dissolution of the temporary emergency government? They would see that the Lib Dems had helped avoid No Deal Brexit. They would see that temporary working with Labour had come to an end. How scared would they be?

    Then again, it often puzzles me when I meet the large number of Lib Dems who talk as if an alliance with Cameron and Osborne shouldn’t have harmed our chances. That wasn’t a temporary alliance, it was five bad years, and in that situation, it was the Lib Dems who were the prisoners. But that’s somehow different!

  • David Allen 7th Oct '19 - 5:21pm

    Alex Macfie said: “Actually the time for a caretaker government is after the extension letter is safely sent.”

    I don’t think that is right. The initial reason, and arguably the most important reason, why we need an emergency government is because we cannot trust Johnson to get an extension. He will probably do his utmost to run down the clock all the way to 31st October. As per my comment at 12.41 above, once that becomes clear, there will be huge pressure on all Johnson’s opponents to find a way to stop him. It’s a pity GNU has not been done already, but last-minute will do, provided we don’t ourselves run out of road while bickering with Labour.

    If Johnson does get that extension, in my view the need for a GNU / emergency government becomes less clear. If Johnson has an extension, but presses for an immediate election, then what is the point of setting up a GNU which will also press for an immediate election?

    A “GNU” could then be more useful if it were instead formed to achieve a referendum first. On that subject, see the below very good post by Chris Leeds:

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/brexit-endgame-62283.html#comment-511805

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '19 - 6:37pm

    Richard Underhill: Yes, I know, but there are a lot of people who seek to use the Clegg/Coalition era experience as a reason to oppose the present party strategy on Brexit, when actually our present strategy is completely the opposite of what Clegg would have done. I am just trying to point out how it is different.

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