LDV’s top 12 posts of 2017 – Number 11

We continue with our countdown of LDV’s most popular posts of 2017.

#11: Lamb and Mulholland to abstain on Article 50 vote: what does this mean for the Party?

The passing of the Bill to trigger Article 50 should have been one of the most dramatic, knife-edge parliamentary votes in the history of time. Unfortunately, because Labour decided that it would just let the Government do its thing, the Bill meandered through its parliamentary stages unencumbered by any sort of parachute to ensure either the possibility of the people having a final say on the deal, EU nationals being given the right to stay or a steer that we should stay in the single market.

There was a slight frisson of angst in the party when Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland abstained on the principle of triggering Article 50.  Caron Lindsay wrote about the implications for the party:

There is no “split”. Greg and Norman are absolutely behind everything that we are saying on a referendum on the deal and all the stuff we are saying about the single market. There is actually very little to divide us and the conversations that have been happening have been perfectly amicable. They have concluded that they can’t vote against something that the majority of the people decided was happening.

Personally, I veer more towards the A C Grayling line that Parliament should just vote the whole thing down. I certainly think that the Government should be made to go for a “Norway” style solution rather than just jump off the cliff from the single market and that Parliament could defeat the Bill unless they changed course on that.

We aren’t in an ideal world, however. We have Labour, an opposition in name only,  giving the government a blank cheque by actually voting for the Bill regardless. I’m just reading  the bit in Tim Shipman’s book on the referendum campaign where he outlines in detail the extent of Corbyn’s ambivalence and how his aides undermined the Remain campaign both internally and externally. The Bill is going to pass and while I might be less than pleased with Norman’s and Greg’s approach, I’m not going to get too cross or lose too much sleep over it. I have a huge respect for them both and I know that they have reached their decision from instinctive liberal principles.


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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Jayne mansfield 30th Dec '17 - 9:01pm

    Norman Lamb and Gregg Mulholland could not vote abstained on the principle of triggering Article 50, having concluded that they could not vote against something that the majority of people decided was happening.

    I admire them for doing so. The intellectual contortions of many who belong to a party with Democrat in their name are quite shameful.

    It may well be that people will change their minds as forecasts become reality, until that happens, it ill behoves those who claim to be Democrats who claim to have faith in the electorate, to sneer at the ‘will of the people’.

  • There is nothing undemocratic in advocating for a sectional interest even if a majority opposes that interest at some particular time.

    There is an old and familiar name for group supporting a sectional interest. That name is “Party.” It is the job of a Party to advocate for and build a majority for the interests of its section.

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