Indicative votes open thread

So how did Liberal Democrat MPs vote in the indicative votes taking place tonight.

What’s on offer?

There’s C – Ken Clarke’s customs union, sponsored by Norman Lamb but most Lib Dem MPs will abstain. Wera Hobhouse voted against last week.

D – Nick Boles’ Common Market 2.0, again sponsored by Norman Lamb. Ours are expected to abstain because it, like C, is implemented by 22 May without a confirmatory referendum.

E – The Kyle/Wilson/Beckett confirmatory referendum one. All ours should be voting for this

G – Joanna Cherry/s and Dominic Grieve’s brilliant amendment which could have been written by Cambridge Lib Dem activist Sarah Brown. Two years ago, she suggested revoking Article 50 and having a conversation about where we wanted to go as a nation. Grieve and Cherry suggest an inquiry into the Brexit process. That could certainly highlight the extent of the Vote Leave law breaking and find solutions to the problems that made people vote leave. Norman Lamb abstained on the similar amendment last week but the others should all vote for it.

What have our MPs said about their votes?

Jo got artistic with her ballot paper:

Still a wee while till we find out what the score is, though.

In the meantime, a reminder of some people making an arse of themselves earlier – but, as Jo Swinson pointed out, they actually had a point:


And the results are in:

C Aye 273 No 276

D Aye 261 No 282

E Aye 289 No 292

G Aye 191 No 292

So Ken Clarke misses out by just 3 this time and the People’s vote by 12. That’s fixable.

Nick Boles just dramatically said that he can no longer sit for the Conservatives in the Commons. Could he be about to join TIG? Or is he just so overcome by emotion that he hasn’t made up his mind yet.

Vince’s comment was that Nick Boles’ or Kenneth Clarke’s added with a People’s Vote could have a majority.

Over to Ed Davey

Surely to goodness, if the Government can’t sort it out and Parliament can’t agree a majority, the only option left is to put it to the people.

Typically, Tim Farron had the glass half full approach.

People can argue that Ken Clarke’s proposal failed because Lib Dems voted against it – but if he attached it to a People’s Vote, they would vote for it.

Surely MPs have to give that a try.

Previous attempts at composite motions have not worked, but we are nearing last orders in the last chance saloon. Make it happen, people.

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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • I find it rather disappointing that at this very late point in the process any MP feels able to abstain on a proposal. You can either stomach it or you’re against it. Abstaining doesn’t get you a free pass from a share of the blame if we crash out.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Apr '19 - 9:54pm

    I support the first three but I’m a bit nervous about the fourth leaving the possibility of a binary vote between revoking article 50 and a no deal Brexit – can we be sure that MPs would back revoking article 50? If so then it also seems like a good amendment.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Apr '19 - 10:17pm

    The Revoke A50 petition has a new lease of life this evening..

  • Guys, I am pro-UK in EU and aghast at what the referendum outcome said. However no-one is buying that it was flawed, overseas influenced and that the Brexit camp were punished for breaking electoral law.

    What I DO understand is that if the LDs cannot compromise on a plan to stay in, the Brextremists will win by default. The insistence on a second referendum isn’t enough to justify a default no deal. Please stop!

    The campaign for UK re-entry starts the day we leave, but please could it be as scathing and ruthless at finding cause for outrage as the Right have been for the past 40yrs?

  • Peter Watson 1st Apr '19 - 11:39pm

    At least all MPs are united on one thing: it is the duty of other MPs to compromise. 🙁

  • David Becket 1st Apr '19 - 11:44pm

    The abstentions from some of our MPs show how weak and leaderless they are and are not prepared to sit together to work out a compromise to get us out of this mess. At least Change UK voted as a group not as a shambles. Ed and Tim you are wrong, it is not just the government not working together, the Lib Dems are not either. I am ashamed to be a Lib Dem.

  • @David Becket

    If we are “weak and leaderless” – god only knows what that makes Labour and the Conservatives!

    I think it is a valid compromise position to be for a people’s vote with a “soft Brexit” option or options on the ballot paper as well. That is essentially my compromise position. I am not a fan of a Norway type option because it doesn’t give us a say but as a democrat I would happily give people the choice. Unfortunately MPs couldn’t vote for that tonight – although it MIGHT emerge as an option later so those wanting it had to be a little creative in tactics and voting.

  • It’s very difficult to take the Liberal Democrats seriously after tonight’s shambles of a performance.

  • Layla Moran’s attitude, replicated across the Commons, is exactly why Parliament have absolutely failed throughout the entire Brexit process. Someone needs to tell her and some of the others that they aren’t running for head girl at the private school their well healed parents spend tens of thousands per year sending them to.

    On the plus side, she and the others have helped make no deal more likely so I shouldn’t be too ungrateful.

  • @David Becket

    You are absolutely correct. It’s genuinely bizarre to observe, regardless of ones personal position on Brexit.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Apr '19 - 1:08am

    At every instance , I favour cross party agreements and work with each other. It is at the heart of my approach.

    I favour a free vote on much that is whipped.

    There is nothing wrong with Liberal who differ. I see no shambles.

    I would have voted with Norman Lamb.

    If his approach to this was the party one, we would, under his leadership be on fifteen or twenty per cent.

    The country wants a compromise. We should welcome Nick Boles into our party fold.

    We should be in immediate alliance with our obvious friends, as , Change UK, The Independent Group and Liberal Democrats!

  • Boles to join TIG? Not sure if joking Caron.

    He left the Tories as they didn’t want to compromise. Nor did TIG who failed to back CM2.

  • Mark Sherratt 2nd Apr '19 - 6:43am

    So the LibDems show how they still haven’t grown up since the coalition. Abstaining and voting against proposals that in reality they could live with as alternatives to No Deal/PM Deal just because it is not full throated remain.

    Yes, I know other parties are shocking split down the middle and TIG voted worse but this is another example of the party that claims to back consensus politics deciding that the consensus has to be their viewpoint or nothing at all.

    It was this attitude during the coalition (voting against manifesto compatible bills just to be awkward) which made me abandon the Lib Demand in the first place.

    Grow up or remain irrelevant.

  • Roger Billins 2nd Apr '19 - 6:48am

    After 44 years of membership of this party and it’s predecessor I am seriously thinking of quitting. It has become a myopic clique as bad as the ERG on the other side of the debate. If our failure to support Common Market 2.0 or the Customs Union leads to us exiting the EU without a deal in less than 2 weeks time, that will be it. I have stayed through Thorpe, David Owen, and tuition fees but can’t stomach this.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Apr '19 - 7:02am

    Sorry, I think I’m withdrawing my support for the Customs Unions amendment – I thought this came with free movement. I can’t support any option that doesn’t maintain free movement of people.

  • John Marriott 2nd Apr '19 - 7:39am

    @Roger Billins
    I made that decision over a year ago, with sadness as I had been associated with both Liberal, SDP and the Lib Dems since the 1970s. My reasons were not because of tge Lib Dem stance over Brexit; but rather the inability of my local party to think outside the box and to change its tactics to suit local circumstances.

    I agree entirely with your observations on certain parliamentarians’ inability to see the wood from the trees. I reckon they would be echoed by Nick Boles MP.

    @Eddie Sammon
    I thought that Freedom of Movement came with the Single Market, not the Customs Union. What would be wrong with pressing for a change of Freedom of Movement of People to Freedom of Movement of LABOUR, especially if the new EU Parliament ends up being full of nationalist members. We could well still be there as a long extension of Article 50 appears to be on the cards?

  • The LibDems had better have a way of guaranteeing this won’t end with a no deal exit next week. For, if they haven’t, playing games like this and refusing to engage in the process of securing a compromise option will have been unforgivable.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Apr '19 - 7:45am

    Dear Roger,
    Thank you for expressing that so well.

  • They are playing student politics when our country is on the edge.

  • Martin Land 2nd Apr '19 - 7:55am

    A very poor performance by the Lib Dems.

  • Like other members above, I am very disappointed that so many of our MPs didn’t compromise by voting for Ken Clarke and/or Nick Boles. If we want a People’s Vote, we have to settle the best Leave option first. It seems that out MPs are as entrenched as the ERG and the DUP. I expected better things of Layla Moran, my own MP. But at least Norman Lamb is sensible and I hope that in the next round he can persuade his fellow MPs to a better course of action.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Apr '19 - 8:18am

    Michael 1 “I think it is a valid compromise position to be for a people’s vote with a “soft Brexit” option or options on the ballot paper as well.”
    But that is not a compromise.
    The Lib Dem position has long been to call for a second referendum in which the party will campaign to remain in the EU (though I cringed watching Tim Farron trying to avoid making that second part explicit in his 2017 Andrew Neill interview), and accepting any number of alternatives to Remain in such a referendum is not a change in that position and it is not compromising in any way at all.

  • Perhaps the most dispiriting article I’ve ever read on LDV; actually applauding this party’s decision to make a ‘No Deal’ exit the most likely outcome.

    Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Davis, et al, have been claiming that a Customs Union and CM2.0 do not constitute leaving and, when LibDems had the chance to say, “Well, that’s the best you’ll get”, they ‘abstained’.

    I’d say”I’m ashamed of the party” but, as I gave up supporting it several years ago, nothing it does (or rather, doesn’t do) surprises me. A few posts talk about ‘student politics’ but it’s not even at that level; it’s ‘kindergarten behavior’, “If I don’t get everything my own way then I’m not playing”.

    Germany’s EU minister, Michael Roth, in words that would get my post removed, summed up the UK’s antics. He singled out the cabinet but his words could be applied equally to this party’s lack of leadership.

  • James Coiley 2nd Apr '19 - 10:32am

    I tend to agree with the bulk of the comments above. This was an opportunity to demonstrate that Parliament could step in and act responsibly – that is, compromise – in a short time-frame where Government cannot. With that in mind, I am disappointed that any LD MPs did not support at least Common Market 2.0. I don’t think its a particularly logical outcome from any perspective, but it satisfies a desire for change and keeps options open for the future. Importantly, it probably does reflect the desire of many for a relationship with Europe which is transactional in nature. An opportunity missed.

  • Laurence Cox 2nd Apr '19 - 10:41am

    There is the real danger now that we will fall into a no-deal Brexit by accident. We urgently need an alternative to May’s deal that is supported by a majority of the Commons. Norman Lamb is right; we cannot afford not to compromise now. If Boles will agree to resubmit his Common Market 2.0 with the addition of a People’s Vote on it against Remain, then we should get behind it. The Country is still split and the vote could go either way, but if we leave with continued membership of the Single Market through EEA and a permanent customs union, it does the least damage to our country. We should still campaign for Remain in a People’s Vote, but the electorate would understand that compromise was needed to avoid a hard Brexit.

  • I was puzzled and dismayed that some Lib Dem MPs actually abstained on one or more of the votes last night. After nearly 3 years, not to mention the last few frenetic weeks, are there still MPs who can’t make their mind up.? I assume/hope that the new leader will not be someone so indecisive.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Apr '19 - 11:38am

    I wouldn’t normally mention this rag but….

    Quoting from that article:
    “n a separate letter to Mrs May, 170 Tory MPs, including ten members of the Cabinet, have urged her to take us out of the EU next week even if she can’t get her deal through. Andrea Leadsom, Steve Barclay, Penny Mordaunt, Geoffrey Cox, Gavin Williamson, Brandon Lewis, Sajid Javid, Liz Truss, Chris Grayling and Alun Cairns are understood to be warning her it would be better to leave without a deal than switch to a soft Brexit.

    Miss Truss said: ‘I think we are well-prepared for No Deal. I don’t have any fear of No Deal.'”

  • Giving any of those “slightly better than May’s” deals a majority – without securing a vote on the deal – could have allowed us to exit in May22 (possibly), without any PV, and with very little scrutiny of the legislation attached.

    In the current climate of “any majority will do, let’s get it over with” – it would essentially be accepting that a vote, or remain were not possible.

    Which is ridiculous considering the PV motion had the most votes.

    So the onus should now be on the authors of those compromise motions to actually compromise and accept that to get the motion through, it must allow a PV.

    According to Sarah Ludford, Tom Brake has put in composite motions that guarantee a confirmatory vote – which by contrast to last night’s motions, do not go against Liberal Democrat party policy that we voted on at conference, and reaffirmed a couple of weeks ago.

    The anger at our MPs for not accepting “a compromise, any compromise” is ridiculous and myopic. We do not need to make stupid decisions in a blind panic.

  • @John Marriott – “What would be wrong with pressing for a change of Freedom of Movement of People to Freedom of Movement of LABOUR”
    Whilst that is a nice soundbite, having read the relevant complementary EU fact sheets about the implementation of the Free movement of People directive, namely:
    Free movement of Persons
    Free movement of Workers
    I don’t see what the benefit of doing this is other than to sound as if you are doing something to the uninformed masses.

    The issue, has been and still is with Westminster and the UK implementing the powers it already has, and enforcing the current laws.

  • William Fowler 2nd Apr '19 - 12:39pm

    A possible motion for tomorrow,

    Ask EU for a twelve month extension so that either the CU can be integrated into the WA and/or so that a confirmatory referendum can take place.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Apr '19 - 12:40pm

    I must say that these comments surprise me quite a bit. Have you forgotten that a Tory civil war led to an ill-conceived, mendacious, and illegal referendum campaign that deceived a small majority of desperate people into voting for a Brexit that will deliver the opposite of what they were promised? There is no compromise: any Brexit compromise is Brexit, and it will be shaped by the Tories in power until 2022.

    Even if his HoC could effectively mandate a softer negotiation-goal, which I am questioning, and even if e.g. a permanent customs union (logically comprising high alignment) were finally agreed, which I doubt even more, it would not last. Leavers would continue to fight for the real Brexit, and then with much better arguments, because that state would truly be that of a vassal.

    These “compromises” are in effect no different from the WA. The desperately sought “Brexit certainty” will never come, capital will continue to leave. I have concluded that the hard Brexit is the best Brexit, because it destroys the concept most quickly, and is therefore the fastest way to re-entry.

    LibDem MPs are IMO right to go for another referendum or revocation, and nothing else. Revocation has a chance only 48 hours before a crash-out, and one must not be afraid to go there.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Apr '19 - 1:09pm

    Revocation is not possible, the bulk of the Conservatives, and much of Labour would not do that. Fantasy is the position of all the parties, this one too.

    Norman Lamb is the leader of the Liberalism that is about conscience and compromise.

    Any other kind is purist minority sport politics. Unfortunately since the coalition that is the regular stance.

    Too knee jerk, too libertarian, too negative, too out of touch, gets this party to the ten per cent it is on.

    TIG, Change UK, might be similar if they are too obsessed with the EU, and do not see the need to compromise with this party.

    The Liberal Democrats have a future, if it is decided it is as a small ultra liberal grouping seeking that pure Liberalism that is whatever its ever smaller followers think it is, out of tune with any majority in our nations, then it might as well not contest many elections, and can be the co operative party.

    There is little of the understanding of people other than the ultra Liberal echo chamber, in the attitude of a vocal minority in this party. And it is a shame they seem to be the ones in the upper echelons too often.

  • @Lorenzo – “Revocation is not possible”
    Disagree, however, I do appreciate it would be the more difficult decision.
    The problem is that presently the Brexit debate is descending into the kindergarden level of argument; hence revocation will be seen as a denial/betrayal of that holy of holy’s “honouring the referendum result”. Additionally, it goes against the instant satisfaction being demanded by Brexiteers, adding to their already overblown sense of injustice.

    Stepping back and being more mature and adult, it is obvious that it is an equally valid way out of the current impasse and in fact allows us to promote CM3.0 et al from within the EU. [Aside: CM3.0 is a development of CM2.0 idea but from a starting point of being within the EU.] So the challenge is how to present and thus convince people that the best way to leave the EU is to revoke and remain…

    @Arnold – “I have concluded that the hard Brexit is the best Brexit, because it destroys the concept most quickly,”
    However, be prepared for Mogg et al to maintain their slippy shoulders and accept no part of the blame, in fact continue to moan that if people had listened to them…

  • Yeovil Yokel 2nd Apr '19 - 1:39pm

    Too many posters on this thread are thrashing about wildly. It is not the responsibility of Lib Dem MP’s to head off a No-deal Brexit by voting for bad alternatives unconnected to a confirmatory referendum – after all, if they’d all voted for Ken Clarke’s motion last night and it had still lost, then they would lost all credibility. A small party like the Lib Dems cannot ‘game’ votes in Parliament, particularly when the Tories were allowed a free vote.
    Thank you, AM (02 Apr ’19 12:11), your sensible comments are like a calm island amidst a storm of panic-stricken keyboard politicians.

  • Sue Sutherland 2nd Apr '19 - 1:43pm

    We are a party which believes Brexit is a terrible idea, so how can our MPs vote in favour unless they made a promise to their constituents? Abstention, in this situation, is a compromise and not a case of being unable to make up your mind. Our MPs can only vote for any kind of Brexit if it’s accompanied by the promise of a referendum.

  • Sue politics is full of examples of parties doing things that are not congruent with their ideals. For example the Lib Dems manage to operate and nominate members to the HoL despite their opposition to an unelected chamber.

    I fear last night’s actions only make a hard Brexit more likely. Was the idealogical purity of the last few remaining Lib Dems really worth that?

  • Cllr Mark Wright 2nd Apr '19 - 2:19pm

    Agree with the large majority of posters here that last night was a depressing and dangerous performance by our MPs, except Norman and Tim.

    Common Market 2.0 is “Brexit in name only” – the only real-world difference between it and being in the EU for citizens is that we wouldn’t be in the Common Fisheries Policy or the Common Agricultural Policy.

    Yet we, the TIGs, and Caroline Lucas, all failed to support it even though it gives us 95% of what we want. Let’s be clear, all the above have voted to make No Deal hugely more likely simply because they want to be in the CFP and CAP. Shameful. (And the TIGs voted actually voted *for* the same policy just last year.)

    And to think that we have spent 2 years criticising Theresa May for refusing to compromise and for not putting the country first…

  • Yeovil Yokel 2nd Apr ’19 – 1:39pm…………………….Too many posters on this thread are thrashing about wildly. It is not the responsibility of Lib Dem MP’s to head off a No-deal Brexit by voting for bad alternatives unconnected to a confirmatory referendum – after all, if they’d all voted for Ken Clarke’s motion last night and it had still lost, then they would lost all credibility………………….

    It was the LiDem party that was “thrashing about wildly”…Did any LibDem MP vote in the same manner on each of the motions?
    Had they voted for Clarke’s motion, it would have won. The onus would then have been on May, and especially her ‘Hard Leavers’, to explain why they would not accept the ‘will of parliament’.
    Who knows what would happen; perhaps Rees-Mogg, Johnson, et al, would be demanding a PV?

    As for losing credibility; that was lost forever last night.

  • I expected our MPs to behave like grown-ups, as they have been exhorting others to do throughout this process. They failed utterly; they behaved dogmatically and tribally and they showed no sense of responsibility – if we end up leaving with No Deal, I am *so* out of this Party.

  • Bhavani Shankar 2nd Apr '19 - 5:28pm

    I agree with the comments here about the perils of voting against the soft Brexit options. I was actually mildly shocked that our party did not vote with Boles or Clarke. It is all very well holding out for a second referendum, but when such action brings us dangerously close to a no-deal, you’ve really got to wonder about the wisdom of this course. There are far too many insane extremists in the Tory party (as well as Labour) to rest assured that sense will somehow prevail and disaster will be averted. Not to mention the non-zero probability that a second referendum may also result in a dreadful outcome.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jun '19 - 3:33pm

    The father of the house has raised alarms by saying he intends to leave. Please pay attention at the back there if you are a Guardian columnist and on the panel of Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’, from which Jonathon Dimbleby has retired.
    Ken Clarke is a widower who said in his memoir ‘A kind of blue’ that he intends to retire at the next general election. He also said so on tv. He was assuming a five year parliament, so he did stand in 2017 and was re-elected as an MP. All he has done now is to ask his constituency party to prepare for another candidate in 2022, which is five years after 2107.

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