LibLink: Willie Rennie We can change the course of the UK with Jo Swinson

Willie Rennie writes for the Herald, saying that the Liberal Democrats can win big in the coming election because we have the solutions to the current chaos.

He explains why we have to wait a few weeks to have that election:

So we want an election before the end of the year but I’m afraid we can’t trust the Prime Minister to abide by the law of the land and request an extension to negotiations with Europe. So we need to hold his feet to the fire until he does and until we have seen an end to the no deal aspirations of this reckless Prime Minister. That means waiting until November before we choose a new Parliament.

Jo offers fresh leadership at a time of crisis and we can stop Brexit.

It’s not necessary or desirable to break up the UK in response to the possible break from the European Union because we have another way. We can stop Brexit together across the UK.

I draw hope from millions who marched in London to stop Brexit or the six million who signed up to revoke Article 50, or the hundreds of thousands of people who backed the Liberal Democrats in the European Elections.

And we are absolutely going for it:

And with the rise of the Liberal Democrats, we are best placed to challenge the SNP right across Scotland. Our ambitions are not limited and we can win many seat to start the drive for change here. We can win back North East Fife from the SNP and their ultra-thin margin of just two votes but we can win so much more too.

We can change the course of the UK with Jo Swinson and an agenda for change. Scotland should be part of that change. Join us.

You can read the whole article here. 

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • Paul Barker 8th Sep '19 - 2:47pm

    New Polling shows that a Majority of Voters (with an opinion) now consider both Tories & Labour to be “Extreme”. The ground is shifting but it will take time to work through to Voting intentions, the Polling for those remains stable for now. An Election “Now” would solve nothing & might make things a lot worse – imagine the chaos of a No-Deal Brexit overseen by a Tory Government with a safe Majority but less than a third of the Vote.
    We need Time, the longer any Election can be delayed the more chance that we can get out of this mess.

  • Charles Pragnell 8th Sep '19 - 2:53pm

    A good article by Willie Rennie. Willie has a good record when it comes to campaigns. It was while he was area organiser for the South West of England, that we made notable advances, in St Ives , South West Cornwall, West Devon , Torbay , Taunton, Somerton and Frome, North Avon, and Western Supermare. Willie’s experience will be vital when the General Election comes.
    I gave thought many elections over the years. As an eight year old I leafleted in my home constituency of North Dorset, that was in 1974. The candidate was the Late Philip Watkins. Philip was the party treasurer at the time.
    The Lib Dems , are in a great place to make gains in the election. A week in politics is a long time.
    Jo has had yet another good week, political foes recognise the potentional of the Lib Dems. Michael Fallon suggests the melt down happening in the Conservative party, will drive 5 million remain Tory voters towards Remain parties. He suspects Remain Voters moving to the Lib Dems.
    Also Ken Clarke suggesting that he will lend us his vote.

    Willie is a great campaigner , and is very canny , I suspect he will pour resources into Jo’s seat, and ensure she holds it. While consolidating in the seats held in Scotland , and in targets such as North East Fife.

    The other issue is making sure we resource the seats held by our MPs who joined us. Or move them to target seats.

    We need two candidates for Twickenham and Norfolk of a high standing to hold the seats.

    The Lib Dems must run on a radical manefesto, with that strong remain message at the core.

  • nigel hunter 8th Sep '19 - 3:43pm

    BREXIT IS A SCAM that we must eradicate. The London Economic.Com/Politics has looked at the Paradise Paoers where prominent Brexiteers are mentioned. Mogg,Banks ,Barclay brothers. Even Lord Rothermere could gain from us leaving. They and others? They have a clear objective of getting out of the EU before January 2020. This is when the EU laws on Tax Avoidance legislation in Overseas Territories comes into play. They cannot then get away with tax avoidance and evasion. As the above own the right wing press could this be why their has been little coverage of the Paradise Papers. Certain people have a clear agenda to get out of the EU cos it is a threat to them and the power they hold.. Johnson worked for some of these papers, with complicit articles.

  • Geoffrey Dron 8th Sep '19 - 3:48pm

    @Paul Barker – if delaying the GE to beyond 31/10 results in a withdrawal agreement not based on the May-Robbins mess, then fine

    However, I think that the delay is more likely to produce a BoJo-Farage Pact on Farage’s terms (no deal brexit).

    I can’t help but feel that many of those who advocate delay are exhibiting the same kind of naivete as the British and French governments between March 1939 and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

  • David Becket 8th Sep '19 - 3:51pm

    A simple radical message;

    Stop playing the fiddle while the world is burning.
    Challenge the real enemies, not the fictitious one

    Revoke Article 50
    Combat Climate Change
    Tackle inequality

    Make the voice of Great Britain great again.

  • oli_betterworld 8th Sep '19 - 5:05pm

    Any party pushing for a 2nd referendum should put these 2 options on the ballot paper:

    A. – Cameron’s deal (Remain –): Amendment to the existing EU treaty especially ~ immigration: Change from free movement of people to free movement of workers
    B – May’s deal

    1. Conservatives can’t disagree with the proposal as both options were put forward by them
    2. It respects the 2016 democratic vote and addresses some of the concerns brought by Leavers and the British people
    3. The party promoting a 2nd referendum will indeed negotiate a new deal with EU BUT based on a ‘Remain’ platform
    4. It offers clear and fair options: It is different from ‘simply’ Remain. It is Remain (- -) OR May’s deal
    5. Yes Cameron’s negotiation failed but time for EU to prove they are negotiating in good faith – similar concerns growing up part of Europe
    6. Will force EU to make its position clear as to whether they want the UK to stay, and listen to its state members
    7. Free movement of people Vs free movement of workers: EU could leave to its state members to decide which option to go with – aligns with Mr Macron ‘2 speeds’ Europe

  • Peter Chapman 8th Sep '19 - 6:06pm

    Like most organisations I deal with their product / service/message is fine but they lack the resources to get their message across. I fear we are like a loot of small companies / organisations faced by this.

    Do we have the tens of millions required to support constituencies with central spending and grants to constituencies to really win big?

  • So we want an election before the end of the year?
    No we don’t, currently the Tories are a minority government, supported in office by a consortium of opposition parties – so effectively we have a style of government the Libdems aspire to being the norm, a situation that can exist until 2021…

  • Nigel Jones 8th Sep '19 - 6:30pm

    Oli_betterworld: The EU is already (in theory at least) about free movement of labour, not people.
    David Becket: Yes you have the right 3 priorities. I would say:
    Stop Brexit
    Deal with inequality
    Tackle environmental issues.

    Inequality is not just about money in people’s pockets, it’s also about public services, locally delivered, health and education etc..
    Environmental issues is not just climate change, it’s about a more sustainable and long-term efficient use of the Earth’s resources.

  • David Allen 8th Sep '19 - 7:19pm

    Oli_betterworld: What we need is:

    (1) Absolute simplicity. That’s what wins votes. Boris is WINNING with “Get Brexit done”, because it sounds simple (and yes we know that is totally bogus, but hordes of voters don’t know that!)

    (2) To get ourselves and Labour onto (as close as possible to) the same page – so that people will believe we can come together and solve the problem.

    Your “Remain minus” deal fails the simpliciity test. Nobody will grasp the ideas. If you argue that you will still need to negotiate with the EU just to adopt the Remain option, you’ll just lose people. Instead, go for Remain, while promising to push for reform once we’ve Remained!

    Labour’s “renegotiate then referendum” fails the simplicity test. We have to point out that the way to pursue a Labourite soft Brexit should be (a) accept May’s Deal, (b) then bring in the customs union etcetera via the Political Declaration during the transition period – knowing that the EU will be very happy to negotiate on softening up the terms of Brexit.

    So what we need is a simple referendum, supported by Lib Dems and Labour alike, offering: May’s Deal versus Remain.

    Lib Dems must compromise by dropping the idea of just Revoking. Labour must compromise by postponing the “Labour Brexit” idea until after a referendum.

    That’s how to get enough simplicity and unity to win.

  • We are simple souls and simplicity is what we understand. So choice going forward is either ” Revoke” or “Remain and make things better”, anything else is far to complicated.

  • Geoffrey Dron 8th Sep '19 - 8:12pm

    @Roland – I somehow don’t see the EU extending the A50 period to 2021

    @David Allen – May’s deal is so appalling as to disqualify it from appearing on the ballot paper, though a sensible exit deal could be substituted. Exit without deal must be offered. There should be first and second choices.

    @frankie – the remain parties must attempt to put together an agreed statement of what they see as appropriate reforms, including the concept of a trading-non political grouping (my preference). Otherwise, as Brussels advances the federalist agenda, we risk getting into this mess again in a relatively short time.

    I know that many LibDems are prepared to run with the federalist agenda, but most, I think, remain voters aren’t of that persuasion.

  • @Geoffrey Dron
    I somehow don’t see the EU extending the A50 period to 2021
    Neither do I, Parliament can, if it has the backbone resolve Brexit by Oct-31, that gives a good year for a decent start to be made on the other agenda items – which we can be ure the Tories don’t really give a damn about. Plus given the current entrenched positions on Brexit, it is going to take a little time for people to come round to reality; better the Tories take the brunt than any one else…

    May’s deal is so appalling as to disqualify it from appearing on the ballot paper
    Yet both David Davies and Boris put their signature to it when it actually mattered, at Chequers… Given there involvement with Brexit and the drawing up of the WA at the point, neither had any real excuse as to why they so quickly changed their minds.

    the remain parties must attempt to put together an agreed statement of what they see as appropriate reforms
    In the short term, a simple recommitment to no treaty changes without a popular vote/full electorate opinion poll, should be sufficient.

  • Any defections yet? Feels like it’s that time of the night. Or is today a day of rest?

  • Geoffrey Dron 8th Sep '19 - 11:27pm

    @oli_betterworld – it’s also necessary to determine whether the UK is a free trade or protectionist entity because the EU is showing signs of becoming the latter

  • William Fowler 9th Sep '19 - 7:37am

    LibDems are falling into the trap of not giving anything to the majority of people who voted Leave, they end up (if revoke happens) feeling totally done over and about as unequal as you can get (I say this as a remainer). This is neither kind nor fair nor equal politics that Jo et al say they represent.

    It is just possible that Jo might end up leading a national unity govn with the mission of a People’s Vote when no deal will have to be one of the two options otherwise the Leave voters will go manic – it is actually such an extreme option that the chances of remain goes up, so it is good politics on all levels, That rump of moderate Conservatives who will be key to such a govn will also want Spreadsheet Phil as chancellor, another horror for the LibDems to swallow but the prize is winning a People’s Vote. Jeremy Corbyn as deputy PM and McD as foreign secretary other nasties.. could be a weird world of modern politics.

  • oli_betterworld 8th Sep ’19 – 5:05pm…………….A. – Cameron’s deal (Remain –): Amendment to the existing EU treaty especially ~ immigration: Change from free movement of people to free movement of workers………….B – May’s deal……………1. Conservatives can’t disagree with the proposal as both options were put forward by them.

    The reason we are in the current impasse is that Conservatives DID disagree with both options..

  • Bill le Breton 9th Sep '19 - 8:51am

    Our leader in Scotland is right.

    One poll does not make an Autumn, but this weekend’s YouGov poll shows us just one point behind Labour. Confirming that Labour’s position cannot hold, cannot survive a General Election.

    By the time postal votes go out in a 2019 General Election we shall be ahead of Labour.

    This is vital. We must be the undisputed head of the Exit from Brexit campaign.

    Nor should we fear the Tories. The Brexit Party may yet have its say in Tory ambitions and anyway – if you believe that the Remain cause is winning 60:40 among those who will vote, then, including SNP seats the truly remain Parties (of which I do not include Labour) will be the largest united force in the next House of Commons.

    – a word of caution we must be very careful about bodies suggesting they can lead a tactical voting drive. In the Euros their advice did no favours to Liberal Democrats but thankfully, although their advice was wrong in almost every case if not in every case, they dd not stop taking last places to be filled that they thought others would occupy.

    Lib Dems should have nothing to do with such activity which is not strictly our own efforts based on our own estimates.

  • Sue Sutherland 9th Sep '19 - 9:30am

    It’s good that several people here are saying we Lib Dems must give something to the Brexiteers. Conference would be a good time to do this and A Fairer Share for All May be the means. A lot of people who voted Leave are good people who have been misled and those are the ones we need to tell how we would make their lives better.

  • David Allen 9th Sep '19 - 10:09am

    Geoffrey Dron:
    “May’s deal is so appalling as to disqualify it from appearing on the ballot paper, though a sensible exit deal could be substituted.”

    Er, what other “sensible” deal, exactly, is there that anybody agrees exists? We can’t put unicorns on a ballot paper. May’s Deal should really be called Barnier’s Deal, it is what the EU are prepared to offer, full stop. Yes it is pretty awful, but could be improved by negotiation during transition to stay in the customs union and single market, thereby lifting the Backstop.

    “Exit without deal must be offered. There should be first and second choices.”

    I don’t think we, or indeed Labour, should be expected to campaign on that basis. It does not sound good to say that No Deal would be disastrous but that we nevertheless think people should consider it seriously and be offered it as an option to vote for. Whether we might at some point have to concede on that is a different question, it would depend on the result of the election. My bet is that we won’t. A three-way referendum is just too complicated.

  • David Allen 9th Sep '19 - 10:16am

    “this weekend’s YouGov poll shows us just one point behind Labour. Confirming that Labour’s position cannot hold, cannot survive a General Election. … We must be the undisputed head of the Exit from Brexit campaign.”

    Rose-tinted specs. We are not going to be the undisputed head of anything. We will come third, like we always do. Labour have made many mistakes and may do pretty badly, but if we want to stop No Deal Brexit, we had better hope Labour’s performance does not let Johnson back in with an absolute majority.

  • @David Allen “Er, what other “sensible” deal, exactly, is there that anybody agrees exists? We can’t put unicorns on a ballot paper. May’s Deal should really be called Barnier’s Deal, it is what the EU are prepared to offer, full stop. ”

    Barnier’s Deal, as you call it, was crafted in response to May’s Red Lines – no CU, no SM, no FoM.

    If those lines are removed then there are a number of “off the shelf” models that could be used, eg Norway.

  • Richard MacKinnon 9th Sep '19 - 11:43am

    I am confused. Am I right to state that;
    The Liberal Democratic Party want to stop Brexit.
    The Liberal Democratic Party dont want a general election just now.
    The Liberal Democratic Party (14 elected MPs) leader cannot work with the leader of the Labour Party (247 elected MPs) to stop a No Deal Brexit.
    Can someone please explain how a party that claims to be liberal and democratic can hold these positions

  • @Richard MacKinnon

    Given that Jo Swinson has already worked productively with Mr Corbyn to successfully pass legislation to thwart a No Deal Brexit (and has, in the process, immensely improved the latter’s tactical position) I think we can say that your third point is clearly in error.

  • Richard MacKinnon 9th Sep '19 - 12:43pm

    David-1 9th Sep ’19 – 12:31pm
    What about my first point. The country voted to leave the EU in a referendum. Is it not undemocratic to refuse to obey the result of the 2016 vote?

  • @Richard MacKinnon – It is totally democratic for Parliament to disregard the result of the 2016 referendum, because Parliament decreed it was advisory and thus is not bound by the result in any way.
    Brexiteers just need to get over their tantrums and face reality, the referendum was advisory anything they believe or was told by campaigners to the contrary was a lie.

  • David Evans 9th Sep '19 - 2:07pm

    Richard MacKinnon 9th Sep ’19 – 12:43pm
    The country voted to leave the EU in a referendum. Is it not undemocratic to refuse to obey the result of the 2016 vote?

    The problem is 52% voted to leave, but no one knows where they want to go the moment we leave. WTO? Customs Union? Single Market? Norway? Canada? Back to the Commonwealth? Back to the Empire? The easiest trade deal in history? A Theresa May Conservative Brexit? A Jeremy Corbyn Socialist Brexit? Or just down the pub with naughty Uncle Nigel?

    It really is so easy for purists, but real politicians have to answer the question or things will go badly wrong very quickly.

  • Richard MacKinnon 9th Sep ’19 – 11:43am:
    Can someone please explain how a party that claims to be liberal and democratic can hold these positions?


    Roland 9th Sep ’19 – 1:28pm:
    It is totally democratic for Parliament to disregard the result of the 2016 referendum, because Parliament decreed it was advisory and thus is not bound by the result in any way.

    The government made it binding: “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.” Parliament confirmed this by voting 494 to 122 for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017. It is now law that we Leave at 11.00pm on the amended date of October 31st. 2019 with or without any agreement.

  • @Richard MacKinnon

    “The Liberal Democratic [sic] Party want [sic] to stop Brexit.”

    Yes. We believe that leaving the European Union is not in the best interests of the country. This is exactly parallel to those who wanted to leave the European Union whilst we have been in it.

    “The Liberal Democratic [sic] Party don’t want a general election just now.”

    The current government wants to exit without a deal on 31st October. The party doesn’t want a general election until this avenue has been closed off.

    “The Liberal Democratic [sic] Party (14 elected MPs) leader cannot work with the leader of the Labour Party (247 elected MPs) to stop a No Deal Brexit.”

    Not correct. We have 17 MPs plus one who votes with us on all matters except Brexit. We have spent the last weeks working with the LotO working to stop a No Deal Brexit.

    “Can someone please explain how a party that claims to be liberal and democratic can hold these positions.”

    Quite easily, as above. In addition:

    – a General Election (FPTP) allows the possibility of a party winning a majority for making a huge constitutional change on a minority of the vote. This is completely different to the original referendum, where no such possibility was permitted
    – a GE mixes Brexit with every other political issue, rather than having it resolved via a referendum first then fighting a GE on all the other issues
    – a referendum would resolve the public’s view on Brexit based on factual options, not some vague instruction to “leave”

  • Paul Barker 9th Sep '19 - 3:53pm

    Its looking increasingly likely that this won’t be settled until late October with the actual effects of No-Deal becoming apparent & MPs on all sides starting to panic. There is a real danger that under those conditions Parliament might vote for a May/Corbyn Deal.
    We just have to keep our options open & keep arguing for Remain.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Sep '19 - 5:07pm

    Jeff: What the government of the time said about it is irrelevent. The only thing that matters is the legislation, which specifically said the referendum is advisory. The government that made the pledge no longer exists. And government pledges are not binding on anyone. The idea that a pledge made by a government in 2016 should be binding on anyone now is terrifying, as is the idea that any government pledge should be binding on anyone not in government.

  • Jeff
    It is more than arguable that the Government acting unilaterally with the words you quote, exceeded its powers (acted ultra vires). I am reliably informed that referendums in this country are not constitutionally empowered to be binding, and are always subject to confirmation. In addition, we are signed up to an international convention on referendums which requires an “in principle” vote, followed by a confirming vote describing in some detail how the in principle decision will be implemented (“the devil is in the detail”).

    Yes, Parliament did, in an ill-advised way, vote to agree to the Article 50 request being submitted to the EU. However, it has become increasingly obvious that the coalition forming the Leave vote will find that parts of any Brexit “solution” are unacceptable to them. This makes it even more important that a confirmatory public vote be held on the substance of any deal as against staying in the Union. Surely it is that much MORE democratic if people are asked to look at detail and vote for or against that?

    At present, with the Parliamentary Brexiteers, plus hedge fund owners etc have their type of Brexit, ie very few regulatory controls whatever, I would argue that less than 1% of the rest of the population would regard that as in any way acceptable. That’s what we are heading for.

    Jeff, tell me WHY your solution is so much more democratic than this? And what is your preferred Brexit? How would it benefit the majority of the British people?

  • Geoffrey Dron 9th Sep '19 - 8:07pm

    Farage has taken umbrage over BoJo’s comments in Dublin about seeking a deal.

    The Tories seem willing to throw away seats in S and SW England and in Scotland.

    Jo is more popular with Labour voters than Corbyn.

    Notwithstanding the substantial polling leads for the Tories, there’s a very real possibility of another hung parliament.

  • @Jeff – You are confusing the referendum result and what the Government and Parliament did having got that result. On the referendum result, Parliament was not bound to take any action to make Leave happen, it was totally up to the Government of the day to introduce legislation that deemed was fitting for Parliament to deliberate on. Yes, the Conservatives got themselves in a fine mess with all their seeming threats and promises. However, just because a previous Government made seeming binding commitments, Parliament is still free to vote which ever way it sees fit, including to amend or repeal the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017…

  • oli_betterworld 9th Sep '19 - 9:48pm

    @David Allen – I get that simplicity is key. But in such a polarized situation I’m not sure it will be sufficient (maybe be wrong). Let’s not forget that before getting a referendum there will be an election. Getting a majority with the current electorate system just based on a Remain message will be challenging at best. Yes Boris is pushing a simple message but he needs the Brexit party’s votes. All the other votes don’t line up against a simple message. But more importantly someone will have to acknowledge that the referendum did happen, compromise and address some of the underlying reasons. I do believe it is better to kick off an election by stating “I acknowledge…’ rather than ‘You didn’t understand what you were voting for’. Something has to give up. I fear that a message around ‘Remain but not Revoke’ , ‘ Revoke OR Remain and make things better’ may be as confusing as the Labour’s position (negotiate a new deal but vote Remain). So far the Labour’s position is to see if they can negotiate a better deal based on Theresa May’s deal. What about starting the negotiation with the EU from a better position, the current one…and leave May’s deal as the other option. No easy way forward…

    @Geoffrey Dron – Yes the federalism pushed by the EU is something that will need to get addressed. What about using this occasion to negotiate a new ‘Stay’ deal (call it Remain –, Reformed Remain, etc) that will serve as the foundation for this ‘2 speeds’ EU. I do believe federalism is a long shot and only France is really pushing for it (and it could backfire quickly).

    @Expats – Conservatives didn’t disagree with Cameron’s deal. EU did.

  • Jeff,

    Some light reading on the way our government works

    Basically Jeff the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill you keep trumpeting was signed off on 20 February 2017. The 2017 United Kingdom general election took place on Thursday 8 June 2017. Now the 8th June 2017 is after the 20th February 2017. Now Parliament cannot bind a future parliament, so if the new parliament want to change the law and it appear they do, well that’s democracy in the UK for you. I mean parliament changing laws how absurd, why if they could do that, hanging, flogging and slavery could be outlawed (and they where, even though previous parliaments had voted in favour of them).

  • Oli_betterworld – Thanks for a considered reply.

    “Someone will have to acknowledge that the referendum did happen, compromise and address some of the underlying reasons”

    I absolutely agree. I just don’t think that “Remain provided we can negotiate some concessions from the EU to enable us to happily stay in” is something we can put on the ballot paper in a referendum. It would mean asking people to vote for an uncertain outcome. I think we should simply put Remain on the ballot paper, and then campaign on a manifesto including some promises (perhaps an immigration management review, perhaps a promise to keep campaigning for an “emergency brake” to prevent massive movements of population) about our future within the EU.

    So in your terms: the referendum ballot paper would just say Remain vs May’s Deal, but I would want our party to add its own gloss “Remain and make things better” when campaigning at a General Election. The GE campaign does not have to be identical to a referendum campaign.

    Then again, things now seem to have moved on….



    Well, my first reaction was that this was a massive mistake, destroying any chances of working effectively alongside Labour to get Brexit thrown out at a second referendum, and handing victory to Johnson on a plate. But then I read the small print:

    “A majority Liberal Democrat government would … cancel (Brexit) by revoking article 50” “It is understood that under the proposal … should the party not win the election, it would then go back to supporting a second referendum and campaigning to remain.”

    That second quotation from the Guardian – as long as it is very clearly made a central feature of the new proposal – sounds much more reasonable. In reality, we are not going to see an absolute majority Lib Dem government. In practice, we do stand a reasonable chance of helping to reverse Brexit, but if we succeed, it will be through a second referendum, and an (uneasy, temporary, but vital) collaboration with the other anti-Brexit parties. All of them. Pegs on noses, for the sake of the national interest!

    The Guardian’s own view was given as:

    “The move would effectively sever the chances of an alliance with Labour at a forthcoming general election.”

    Well, if the Guardian meant something like “sharing out the seats which each party would fight”, then that was never on, anyway. But if “alliance” was supposed to mean “preparedness to work with Labour to cancel Brexit”, it would be catastrophically stupid to “sever the chances” of that happening. It would be blatantly putting party before country. So let’s hope our leadership will swiftly make clear that that is not what is intended!

  • John Bicknell 10th Sep '19 - 8:49am

    There are merits in campaigning on a ‘Revoke and Remain’ platform; it’s a simple, clear message, justified on the basis that ‘if you elect us as a majority government, then the public have given their verdict, we don’t need to ask you again.’ A referendum campaign would be lengthy, divisive, potentially inconclusive, and there’s no clear agreement what the options on the ballot paper should even be.
    If the party had been campaigning from the outset on these terms, it’s an idea that could be coming into its own. The problem is that the merits of ‘putting it back to the people’ in a further referendum have been proclaimed so loudly, that to relegate this to a secondary, fall-back position would be hard to sell, and make the new stance seem like arrogance.

  • Mick Taylor 10th Sep '19 - 9:15am

    The resolution coming to conference will be the first Brexit resolution I am able to vote for. I have always argued against a further referendum (or indeed any more referendums at all). We live in a parliamentary democracy and parliament makes decisions about laws, treaties etc. That FPTP makes parliament unrepresentative is of course another problem that needs to be tackled.
    In any event, campaigning to revoke (Bollocks to Brexit?) will make our stance as a party crystal clear.
    And, Dave Allen, no-one can be sure under FPTP who will win seats in a four (or even 5) party situation. So you can’t rule out a Lib Dem victory just as you can’t rule out just winning 15 seats. If the Lib Dems can get remain voters to back them, then the sky’s the limit.

  • Richard MacKinnon 10th Sep '19 - 9:32am

    Roland 9th Sep ’19 – 1:28pm
    You say “It is totally democratic for Parliament to disregard the result of the 2016 referendum, because Parliament decreed it was advisory and thus is not bound by the result in any way.” I say that attitude to a vote of the peoples is authoritarion, arrogant, unrealistic, undemocratic, indefensible, stupid and dangerous.

  • David Allen 10th Sep '19 - 9:50am

    Mick Taylor – Perhaps my comment that we won’t see an absolute majority Lib Dem government was a slight overstatement. The bookies will currently give you about fifty-to-one against that outcome.

    It may make sense to declare what we would do if we alone ran the country. Then again there are pitfalls. In 2010 we convinced ourselves that if we were running the country alone, we could scrap tuition fees. That was our downfall when what actually happened was – as is always the more likely possibility – that we gained a share in power but as a junior partner.

    Bollocks to Brexit – Yes. But the overwhelming likelihood is that if Brexit is cancelled, it will be through a referendum.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Sep '19 - 9:58am

    Campaigning in the forthcoming General Election for another referendum to determine if people want to Remain or to Leave with certain guarantees is democratic. Campaigning for Parliament to revoke Article 50 without another people’s vote surely cannot be considered democratic.

  • Katharine Pindar: In a democracy anyone can campaign for anything they wish. And if the Lib Dems campaign on a platform of “Revoke Article 50”, and win an overall majority based on that campaign, then under our system we would have a democratic mandate for that action, based on the principle that any mandate overrides a previous one on the same thing. In the much more likely event of us failing to win an overall majority, we would push for a People’s Vote, even if we form part of the government, as the failure to win outright would mean we could not argue we had a mandate for Revoke.

  • In strict formal logic, Alex Macfie is right and Katharine Pindar is not. However, practical politics does not always work like that. If we adopt a Revoke policy, our opponents will scream that the “Liberal Democrats” have given up on democracy and are now no better than the Cummings mafia. If people believe that charge, we shall lose more than we shall gain. Let’s not forget, we have spent a lot of time making the case for a second referendum as the right way to make a democratic decision. I see no pressing reason to move away from it.

    If we’ve got to do that – and, of course, the fact that we have announced it makes it difficult to row all the way back – then we must minimise the risk. We must say that we would love to win the absolute majority giving us a mandate to revoke, but we expect we will much more probably need to hold that referendum.

  • @Richard MacKinnon – So what in your opinion is the correct response of Parliament to the results of an advisory poll (ie. an opinion poll)? Remember establish procedure is for the Government to introduce a bill for Parliament to deliberate on, or for a private members bill to be put forward for consideration…

    Remember, in this specific case, it is a small minority of Conservatives (in government) who decided that a desire to ‘Leave’ meant people wanted their particularly version of (no deal) Brexit and are trying to steamroller it through both their party and Parliament so as to avoid proper scrutiny – I would thus say the attitudes and actions of the Tories are “authoritarion, arrogant, unrealistic, undemocratic, indefensible, stupid and dangerous.”

  • One great advantage of Revoke is that it can be done on Day one, the last Referendum took 7 Months to arrange, with no opposition. This time we can assume that The Tories would be doing their best to sabotage it at every stage. All that time is Parliamentary time wasted while the damaging effects of Brexit uncertainty continue.

  • @Paul Barker

    That is the best tongue in cheek irony I have seen posted on here in a while

  • William Fowler 10th Sep '19 - 12:08pm

    The reason for revoke in a GE campaign is to avoid looking like Labour Lite, giving voters a clear reason to vote LibDem and ending all the uncertainty. Going for a People’s Vote if there is no majority is fair enough fall back position.

  • The one thing that lots of Remain & Leave Voters claim to agree on is that want it all to stop. With a policy of Revoke we can guarantee that a LibDems Government would stop talking about Brexit the Day Jo enters Number 10. We can’t stop other Parties going on & on about it but The Media will lose lose interest. Of the 4 “Main” Parties we are the only one that can honestly promise to “Make it Stop.”

  • Peter Hirst 10th Sep '19 - 1:36pm

    Revoking Article 50 as a key manifesto pledge in the coming General Election is clear and hits Labour’s still ambiguous stance. It does however nothing to improve our governance that is the reason for the chaos following the referendum in 2016. Our leadership needs to balance the competing objectives of seeing Brexit off and changing the rules that govern how our democracy works, remembering that strengthening society is one of our main values.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Sep '19 - 3:16pm

    It is concerning that the BBC, via lunchtime news, are already suggesting that the Liberal Democrat policy is now to revoke Article 50. I would point out that that is not LD policy, and it will not be unless we agree to it in the Europe debate at Conference. I believe we should not do so. As David Allen pointed out, it will look as if we have given up on democracy. We have constantly scoffed at the Brexiteers saying that we are anti-democratic in refusing to accept the result of the 2016 Referendum. We have replied, that what started with a People’s Vote should be concluded with a People’s Vote.

    I do believe that for Parliament to revoke Article 50 without another Referendum would be undemocratic, and as a Liberal Democrat I will oppose it. I hope our Leader will remember that the policy is yet to be decided. For the record, at last September’s Brighton Conference it was agreed that the option of revoking Article 50 could be taken if there was no extension of the time to negotiate stopping Brexit . But our Government is being forced to ask for an extension of time, which it is generall y expected will be granted. There is therefore no need for an immediate change of our party’s policy, which is to demand another Referendum with the option to Remain included.

  • Paul Barker 10th Sep '19 - 4:00pm

    We have bet the bank on a strategy of Out-Remaining everyone else, we don’t really have any sensible choice but to continue. So far its taken us from 6% to 18/19% & given us something like a clear image with Voters for the 1st time in well over a Century.
    Not to Vote for a Revoke platform at Conference would be to throw away all our hard-fought gains.

  • David Allen 10th Sep '19 - 4:49pm

    On the “Mandate to Revoke”:

    OK, the dream is not impossible. Boris and Nigel fight to a standstill with 20-25% each and precious few seats. Labour crumble, while Jo sweeps to an absolute majority of seats on (plausibly) no more than about 35% of the popular vote. Then what?

    Now, when the Privatisation Party on 35% beats the Nationalisation Party on 30%, they can reflect that they won fair and square. The smaller parties did not all line up en masse and cry out that privatisation was anathema. They won a mandate, and can happily start privatising.

    But – When the Lib Dems (in our dreams) win a 35% vote, while Boris and Nigel share a 45% vote, have we truly a mandate to Revoke? Have we heck!

    We could, as Paul Barker says, revoke on Day 1. But we would never hear the last of it. The Brexiteer parties would redouble their efforts, harry us from pillar to post, and pose – extraordinarily, without reducing the nation to helpless laughter – as Britain’s true statesmen and democrats. Brexit would rise again.

    Far better, if we do ever win that electoral landslide, to use our opportunity to nail Brexit for good. Call that referendum. If we are so popular, and so the Remain cause is so popular, we will surely win it. Then the Brexiteers will finally die the death.

    Honesty and democracy isn’t just the best policy. It’s also the policy that will work.

  • David Evans 10th Sep '19 - 5:11pm

    Actually having read Paul’s second paragraph again, it does make perfect sense and he is probably right, but it may be that if we have a say in the final decision we may have to compromise on it.

  • @Katharine Pindar
    I think I’m with you on this one. I would like to hear the rationale for simply revoking art50. We are trying to improve democracy and much as I would prefer the referendum never to have taken place, the fact is that it has. If we just ignore it we are doing the same thing that ‘No Dealers’ are doing. Tyranny of the majority should not be tolerated in a well functioning society. I think the country needs breathing space. I would like to see Brexit deferred for the course of any parliament. Time to take a long hard look at the reason for this mess and then action to resolve it. No place for party games in this situation.

  • David Becket 10th Sep '19 - 5:48pm

    One option to satisfy the objections raised by Katharine and others is to revoke article 50 and bring the issue back in a future referendum when we have a written constitution and rules for conducting a referendum. In the meantime we are busy tackling Climate Change and inequality.

  • Paul Barker 10th Sep '19 - 6:23pm

    The problem with Revoking & then holding a Referendum later is that it would be illegal. It would be fine for some other Party to hold a Referendum if they win the next Election in 2024 but the Rules are quite clear that any Government that Revokes has to mean it.
    On the question of whether the Brexit argument would carry on after Revocation, we can’t know of course. Certainly The Tories/Brexit Party & The Press would try to keep it going but we are talking about a Libdem led Government – every Week would see some new Liberal Outrage & Brexit would soon seem so last Year.
    The War would continue but on new battlefields.

  • Bill le Breton 10th Sep '19 - 6:31pm

    I have been suggesting for a while that our opponents will do our communications for us:

    Negative campaigning shores up your base but the side effect is to shore up your opponent’s base.

  • David Allen 10th Sep '19 - 7:13pm

    As Paul Barker says, “revoking” in order to hold a referendum is illegal – Article 50 does not permit it, for the rather obvious reason that it would be a devious and dishonest way to proceed. I suppose that what David Becket is understandably seeking is a properly planned referendum, with enough time to get the question and the rules right, and avoid the panicky febrile atmosphere which Cummings creates so that populist agitation can thrive.

    That could be achieved by asking the EU for a long extension, and putting forward a specific, planned and staged timetable for the referendum process, to deliver a result by a stated date, of the order of a year ahead.

  • I can’t see how the rest of the EU would be willing to let us have a long hard breathing space without revoking; they’re never going to give us another 5-year extension to A50. If, say, the Brexit Party gained a majority at the next election, even if on less than 50% of the popular vote, they would consider they had a mandate for a No Deal and it would be well nigh impossible to convince them that it needed to be put back to the people in a People’s Vote. If Remain/Revoke parties had a majority and, preferably together had more than 50% of the popular vote, then that seems to me a mandate to revoke. If with less than 50% of the popular vote then have a PV – but again what on earth would the Leave option be if Remainer parties had a majority in parliament? If we can get PR, then perhaps another election!

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Sep '19 - 9:06pm

    Good thinking, David Allen, and as Bill le Breton’s reference shows, our enemies will seize on the supposed evidence – to their way of thinking, renewed evidence – that we are not really democratic. In fact, I see now that the Conference motion, F17 Stop Brexit , does take a nuanced position. It reads, in lines 39-41 b), ” Revoke Article 50 if the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement one week ahead of the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU.” In short, it’s an emergency action, if taken at all. But there’s little room for nuance in public debate, and if the Leader appears to be endorsing the action come what may (I hope it’s not “do or die”!) that will be spread everywhere as the new Lib Dem stance. There should be a Press Statement at least, to point out that this is a policy yet to be debated and therefore not bound to be party policy.

  • David Allen 11th Sep '19 - 1:13am

    As Katharine Pindar says, there’s little room for nuance in this debate. At 12.34am on 10th September above, I quoted the nuanced proposal that “Revoke” should only be our policy should we (improbably) win an absolute majority of seats. But all the commentators have ignored that proviso, and simply reported that our policy is now Revoke. The Party could easily correct those reports, and correct the presumption that the Revoke proposal is already a done deal, should it want to do so.

    It’s not exactly as if we struggle to look different from Labour on this issue. We breeze through that test! Where they tie themselves in endless knots of indecision, we show total commitment to our belief in staying in the EU. Is it essential, from somebody’s point of view, to drive a wedge between the Lib Dems and Labour, preventing the two parties from collaborating to deliver a referendum that can stop Brexit? Whose point of view? Johnson’s?

  • Sandra Hammett 11th Sep '19 - 9:45am

    The current thought says that the Tories are tearing themselves to pieces, the Brexit Party are a bunch of extremists (with 30% of the EU election result that’s worrying), Change UK or whatever they called this week are a giant misfire and we are condoning Revoking Article 50.
    Labour’s strategy of balance may actually pay off in the long run because whatever the outcome the can honestly say that they didn’t pick a side and are therefore more able to unite the country, well whatever’s left of it.
    If we managed to unite the Remain vote and got into power, we would be subject to; Leavers ridiculing us for appearing to choose which democratic decisions were legitimate, Labour constantly reminding Jo of her role in the Coalition, splits within the party because certain people joined simply to oppose Brexit and now wish to alter the party, we want to change the voting system which will result in another Farage revival because Pandora’s Box is wide open.
    All because we failed to offer something a majority on all sides could, however reluctantly, agree with, rather than a determination to fight with fire, leaving no recourse for people to change their minds, furthering the polarisation we claim to wish to avoid.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Raw 14th Aug - 10:35pm
    It's not just the two million exam downgrades from this chaotic UK government, but the fact that Grant Shapps (aka Michael Green et al) got...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 14th Aug - 10:11pm
    @ Theakes 'Normal' politics hasn't existed since March. It's not too surprising the people of the UK have more on their mind than the fourth...
  • User Avatartheakes 14th Aug - 8:52pm
    Galen, I am neutral in this election, but E Ds hand has been on the tillar since January. During that time the "leadership" appeared to...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 14th Aug - 8:17pm
    @ Anthony Watts, "Europe’s economies are stagnating because for too long macroeconomic management has been subcontracted to unaccountable ‘technocrats’. It is high time that macroeconomic...
  • User AvatarGalen Milne 14th Aug - 8:09pm
    Thanks Daisy. Your feedback confirms my own opinion. Right now the Party require a steady hand built on sound experiences, good and bad. Your insight...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 14th Aug - 8:04pm
    @ Anthony Watts, "I think DiEM25 have got it right." Maybe. But who else does? Their idea is that the EU is reformable by democratic...