+++Norman Lamb says he’s considering resigning the party whip

From the Guardian Politics Live:

The senior Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb (he was not far off being elected leader in 2015) has told the BBC that he is considering resigning the party whip because he is so angry about how the Lib Dems acted in the indicative votes last night. Lamb voted for the customs union amendment, but around half of colleagues voted against it along with other MPs who did not want it to succeed because they want a second referendum instead.
He said he was worried the Lib Dems were turning into “the mirror image of the ERG”.

* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Paul Walter

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  • I very much hope that Norman will stay in the Parly Group, but I think he articulates a very valid point. We should not, we cannot, we must not become an intolerant single-issue EU Fan Club.

  • Callum Robertson 2nd Apr '19 - 6:54pm

    Norman Lamb is hands down one of the best parliamentarians we have in this current Parliament.

    His work on drug reform, mental health, his work on the science and technology committee is also really impressive. Policy wise, wherever you put him, he seems to thrive.

    He has always done stuff like conviction politics where he champions things like drug liberalisation despite the political cost of this in his own constituency.

    He is also one of these people who gets on with the job, no self promotion, no grand gesturing or anything.

    His work trying to seek compromise in the most divided parliament of our lives is brilliant.

    I personally don’t agree with his branding of remainers as extremists but can totally see his reasoning behind it.

    He is also an impeccable liberal.

    So why, we must ask ourselves, is he considering such a move. When someone like Norman Lamb is considering leaving, we need to really really rethink what we are doing or saying as a party that seems to drive people like him to contemplate this. Because let’s make no mistake, Norman has done what any good parliamentarian would have done, sought to bring people together.

    If we manage to drive someone like him out of the party then we really need to reconsider what kind of party we are.

  • Nom de Plume 2nd Apr '19 - 7:04pm

    He is getting too upset about indicative votes. They should have voted for CM 2.0.

    May’s attempt to reach out to Labour is what should have happened at the start of the process. It is now very late. We will have to see what the EU says. Difficult woman. Not clever. Labour should have made supporting Article 50 contingent on such a process. Not clever. They are both to blame. Let’s see if the two Brexit parties can come to an agreement. Parliament may have to decide after all. No abstentions please.

  • David Boynton 2nd Apr '19 - 7:05pm

    Completely agree with Norman that we have become a one issue hard remain party.

    I hope norman stays and fights the leadership election.

  • chris moore 2nd Apr '19 - 7:07pm

    A second excellent MP to go after Stephen Lloyd.

    We have got to understand the need for compromise.

    I mentioned earlier my many Leave Friends and acquaintances. Many of these used to vote Lib Dem. No longer. The party obsession with purity on this issue has driven both supporters and now MPs away.

    There is nothing inherently iliberal about doubting membership of the EU. Absurd that this has become a litmus test of Lib Dem validity.

  • Andy Briggs 2nd Apr '19 - 7:09pm

    It’s heartbreaking that one of our best MPs has had to say this, and he’s right too. We are dangerously close to becoming nothing more than a reverse-UKIP party. I joined the Liberal Democrats to champion liberalism, of which pro-European internationalism is only one aspect – I cannot bare watch the party champion this at the cost of everything else for much longer.

  • As if Brexit wasn’t depressing enough already…

    I don’t want to see Norman Lamb leave the party, as he is an excellent MP for the reasons Callum sets out above.

    However, I’m a little puzzled by his stance. The Ken Clarke amendment is, on my reading, an acceptance of a soft Brexit, whereas current policy is for a “People’s Vote” on whatever deal is finally agreed. If Norman takes the view that the party should shift it’s position, then I’ve missed him articulating the reasons why, prior to the vote.

  • I agree 100%, it was profoundly disappointing to see the abstained votes on options that could have presented a clear alternative to no deal. Instead we’re gambling everything on a people’s vote with no fallback expect trying to place blame elsewhere. Reckless gambling that dodges the hard questions.

  • David Westaby 2nd Apr '19 - 7:26pm

    I suspect many will have sympathy with Norman’s view. However, after such a long battle to get a referendum on the final deal so close to fruition there must be an understanding of why the MPs voted as they did.
    To lose Norman Lamb would be a tragedy. I think there is a real need for a few deep breaths and for the small band of LD MPs to stay together.

  • Nom de Plume 2nd Apr '19 - 7:28pm

    I have not read the Clarke amendment, but if it is a customs union, in the usual sense of the word, it is a hard Brexit. It is bad for services (not included). It only applies to tariffs on goods. Non-tariff bariers would still apply. The rules would be set by the EU (Britain’s concerns would not be important). All other issues would remain unresolved. The only reason for supporting it (if one considers it a good reason) is the end of freedom of movement. Interesting to see Clarke morph into a Brexiteer.

  • +1 what AlexB says above.

    Lib Dem policy is for a People’s Vote. If we had helped the Clarke amendment over the line that might have ruled out a People’s Vote and therefore had an effect contrary to party policy.

    The fact that Clarke’s Customs Union is slightly less bad doesn’t make it good.

  • I hope Norman Lamb can bring his less sensible members around. I have expressed my views more fully in another posting about Jo Swinson . This man is a professional among a load of let-down amateurs. A pity, in retrospect, that he didn’t become our leader.

  • Venetia Caine 2nd Apr '19 - 7:38pm

    I’m sad about Norman Lamb, but he is wrong in my view. To compromise would be like splitting the Solomon’s judgement baby down the middle. To compromise would mean we would leave. There can be no compromise. LDs *are* the mirror image of the ERG in that sense, and they are right to be so.

  • I think this has been brewing for Norman since 2017 (or earlier):


    He says “what we need is for progressives to engage in fresh thinking on how we achieve a new settlement with the EU – one that secures free trade, jobs, security partnerships and our place in the customs union” which actually sounds like where Cornyn is now.

  • I’d ask the following question of Norman

    “Were the compromises carried out to enable the Lib Dems to enter government with the Tories worth while for the policies achieved and the later fall out that occurred”

    If the answer is Yes then I rather doubt Norman’s political antennae, if the answer is No, then why do you think dealing with them will end any better this time?

  • Andrew Wimble 2nd Apr '19 - 7:58pm

    My concern is that if nobody is prepared compromise parliament will stay deadlocked and we will end end up crashing out with no deal. I back remain 100% but still feel the time has come to compromise and get behind a soft Brexit that can get a majority behind it rather than risk bombing out.

  • If Norman’s position is, as some have suggested, contrary to party policy, then our policy is too inflexible for a situation that changes by the day, if not the hour.

  • Well done Norman. For many months now I have seen Lib Dems become more extreme in their Brexit position. To the point Lib Dems are the mirror image of UKIP.

  • Michael Sammon 2nd Apr '19 - 8:28pm

    He is correct. This is perhaps the wake up call we need. I have recently came around to now being the time to compromise rather than digging trenches.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Apr '19 - 8:30pm

    @ frankie,
    In my opinion, you are comparing apples with pears.

  • David Becket 2nd Apr '19 - 8:36pm

    If Norman goes many will follow. I have received a poster with the words STOP BREXIT. GIVE PEOPLE THE FINAL SAY. (With the imprint on the reverse – how slack can you get?)

    This is where our twisted policy has go us. This is not about a peoples vote, it is about stopping Brexit. Our policy has been twisted to such an extent that even our MPs cannot act as a group. It looks as if the three main leadership contenders are behind this. All three failed to impress yesterday.
    I hope Norman stays and knocks some sense into the other MPs.

  • We reneged on our pledge over tuition fees in an attempt to be responsible and compromise – and look where that got us!
    Ditching our pro-Remain stance now to try to support any form of Brexit would be no better.
    There is no flexibility, no compromise possible. Brexit means Brexit! Hard, soft, quilted, cushioned, or with added aloe vera, it’s still Out.

    I wasn’t aware, btw, that ‘le parti, c’est Norman Lamb’. That party policy should bend to his views. Or be changed by anyone on the hoof.

  • Roland Postle 2nd Apr '19 - 9:34pm

    I don’t get it. The main thing preventing May’s deal passing through Parliament is the fear that it will inevitably lead to a permanent customs union, so the compromise is.. a permanent customs union?

    The reality is it isn’t a compromise with the genuine position of most informed Leavers, it’s a way to screw them over that everyone else can just about tolerate because it won’t be too damaging to the economy in the near-term and will be politically defensible because we technically leave the EU. Plenty of Leavers have said they’d rather stay *in* the EU than accept an outcome like a customs union where we become rule takers, because the whole point is to get control back. I’d venture also quite a few Remainers would rather see us properly out making our own rules than technically out but at the mercy of EU trade negotiators. (If there were a fully out scenario that solved the Ireland border issue, that is).

    Half-in half-out with few of the benefits of either is Labour’s politically convenient fudge which only superficially appeals to those for who immigration was the only issue, and who’ll end up disappointed anyway when all parties still agree to bring in lots of oversees workers that the economy needs. Lib Dems should be more honest than that.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 2nd Apr '19 - 9:38pm

    I totally agree that Norman Lamb’s work on mental health and drug policy to name just two things has been outstanding and I don’t want to see him leave. He is a liberal and he belongs with us.

    On this issue, though, I think he is wrong. We are just regaining trust again. We have put so much energy into the People’s Vote and stopping Brexit that to pivot towards supporting Brexit at the last minute would kill us off.

    It’s all the more heartbreaking because that People’s Vote policy was a compromise in itself – to enable him to stay with us back in 2016. I think that we should have been on a vigorous anti Brexit platform from the start and one of the reasons we weren’t was because he wouldn’t agree to that sort of robust stance. I think that has meant that we have too often been drowned out and that what we are known for is more People’s Vote than Stop Brexit.

    So to see him attack us for sticking to the policy that we had to adopt to keep him on board makes me quite sad.

  • David Becket 2nd Apr '19 - 10:45pm

    This is not student fees, it is about averting disaster. Averting disaster needs compromise.
    A genuine peoples vote is the most obvious way out of this. However as I stated earlier we are proposing the Peoples Vote as a Stop Brexit tool. If it is seen as that then it will loose support. We have not converted many MPs to a Peoples Vote, have we been using sensible tactics? If what you are campaigning for is not going to fly and disaster threatens you need to find an alternative least worse way forward.

  • @David Becket

    I have commented on Caron’s more recent post. But Sky News reported that Keir Starmer will insist on a People’s Vote in a Corbyn/May agreement. Paul Mason has also made the point about the Labour membership wanting a PV on Newsnight.

    As to not converting “many MPs”. If memory serves me right it was only Tim Farron saying that there should be a referendum to start with. Then the SNP came on board – a little half heartedly. This week it was over 280 – from 8 (well may be 9 with Caroline Lucas). Support for a second referendum was low – it is now a majority no matter how you phrase the question and support for Remain grows. A pretty skilful and effective campaign by the Lib Dem leaders.

    Leaving without a vote or a no deal would be sad for the country but a massive opportunity for the Lib Dems.

    My view was that we would probably leave but would rejoin within 20 years. Now I am not sure that we will ever leave.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Apr '19 - 11:39pm

    These are contentious issues where arguments about process are understandable. We do not as a party generally approve of conformity. Norman Lamb remains, as he said, a Liberal Democrat. Achieving the party’s goal of securing another referendum and hopefully by that means calling off Brexit is still possible, though the way is still tortuous.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Apr '19 - 11:42pm

    Norman Lamb is the best we have in the Commons. He is intelligent and measured and reflective and poignant.

    If he resigns the whip the mps are minus the best of them. He is not a spoilt brat type. He does not play games.

    Sir Vince this reflects on you and your colleagues and on this party. As does the worry of the Independent mps, the association with this party.

    Tim failed to establish after coalition but tried. Norman would not have played to the EU Remain wing enough for that era.

    In this era onwards this party and the newcomers , Change UK, best get together and do just that, or some of us shall be independents and form new ways of expressing our views via charities , think tanks, and writing and broadcasting, online.

    I cannot even countenance enthusiasm for politicians out of touch with people outside of their circle.

    And that is so for members inward looking as they preach outward international fraternity.

    I and few here are able to write this, am the son of an immigrant from another EU country. But I am a British patriot before any inkling of interest , in the EU.

    I support the policy and philosophy of this party . But not this tendency I am seeing. Intolerant, one sided , loud, overblown, narrow.

    Change please. Then we can do that for our country.

  • I have to agree with Cassie, I use to vote for your party before the coalition and it has taken me along time to forgive you for what you did. Failing to oppose brexit and represent remain voters is the worst possible thing you can do.

    There is no good brexit, you need to stand firm and fight for a people’s vote.

  • David Evershed 3rd Apr '19 - 12:48am

    Since the Lib Dems adopted hard Remain as the party policy, the large influx of new members have been Remain supporters.

    This has resulted in new Remainer members swamping the old party members, so it is now a matter of fact that the LibDems have become overwhelmingly a hard Remainer party and not for any form of Leave.

  • Norman is absolutely spot on – the almost cult like obsession with a “people’s vote” that has been allowed to dominate the Lib Dems has led to the party turning into a single issue party more in line with a student union than a serious potential party of government.

    History will have terrible things to say about all of the main parties during this period, but I suspect that the Lib Dems will get the harshest treatment. Tuition fees + hard remain = a wonderful way to alienate large swathes of the electorate for a very long time.

    How different things could have been had Norman been leader…

  • Looks like the Lib Dems have become too extreme for even sensible MPs like Norman to remain in the Party. Such a sorry state of affairs.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Apr '19 - 3:29am

    Excellent contributions do not touch the reality of this . Rightfully we must call this narrowness what it is. But to say more , that this party is in any way as bad for its obsession , as Labour or Conservative, is a bridge too far, politically.

    It is because this party is filled with sensible, mainstream figures, and fine, intelligent activists, those of us concerned, are, to improve the chances, with TIG, of the centre ground, and common sense being maintained and strengthened.

    Extremism on the farther left and right are very worrying.

    Antisemitism and xenophobia are nowhere in this party, in any way that has been an issue of outrage.

    We have mps who are very decent.

    The best thing we can do is stop the rush to purist ideological liberalism. Our second word is democrat. It must lead us to at least listen.

    Let us not become as the US Democrats are now. A progressive, trendy, ultra liberal identity politics know all movement of noisy activism and parliamentary and electoral posturing.

    We should encourage diverse opinion as much as diversity itself.

    It is conscience that is Liberalism’s voice.

  • You can’t campaign for years on a policy and then ditch it because panic is ensuing. Yes Brexit is a danger but signing up to Ken Clarkes deal is still dangerous. It doesn’t solve the issues with Brexit, it just defines what will be discussed in the next phase. This isn’t away out, it is a door to the next tortourous set of negotiations. If you want the tag of “tagalongs, who will bottle it and go along with bad ideas” rush to support Clark, but don’t look astonished as the membership hemorages and what credablity the party has eveporates.
    Jo Grimond said
    “In bygone days, commanders were taught that when in doubt, they should march their troops towards the sound of gunfire. I intend to march my troops towards the sound of gunfire.”
    he didn’t say, “When the going gets tough, give up your principles and compromise”.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Apr '19 - 9:16am

    @Cassie “We reneged on our pledge over tuition fees in an attempt to be responsible and compromise – and look where that got us!”
    Apparently it got the party to a new position on tuition fees that Lib Dems love. 🙁

  • Andrew McCaig 3rd Apr '19 - 9:43am

    Norman is completely wrong to make this some sort of defining issue and split the Party. I do not mind him voting with his conscience where the Lib Dems were not whipped. But criticising the others for doing the same and threatening to leave at this moment was very wrong
    Unless the Customs Union or Single Market 2.0 are enshrined in the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement, or put to a People’s Vote, they are not worth the paper they are written on. Theresa May will not be in charge of this process.
    I am a great believer in compromise, but breaking promises for the sake of something that cannot be delivered is a mistake of 2010 proportions. If we are really scared enough of no deal to vote for this, then just accept the blackmail and vote for Theresa’s deal, which in practice is identical to Ken Clarke’s amendment and is certainly much better than no deal. I hope everyone on here who is backing Norman would be happy with that

  • John Barrett 3rd Apr '19 - 9:48am

    Michael is also spot on when he says, “Norman is absolutely spot on – the almost cult like obsession with a “people’s vote” that has been allowed to dominate the Lib Dems has led to the party turning into a single issue party.”

    I couldn’t agree more and completely understand why Norman feels the way he does.

    We have become a party that completely intolerant of those who do not support this particular party policy and the official line that anyone who does not, either has to stay quiet, or will be made to feel unwelcome in a party that used to accept that many members hold a wide range of views on most policy issues.

    It may be (as David Evershed says) that this is as a result of the large number of new Remainer members swamping the older members and becoming the dominant force in the party.

    If this is the case, Norman won’t be the last to consider whether they wish to remain in a party that has become intolerant of any deviation from party policy on this particular issue.

  • Andrew McCaig 3rd Apr '19 - 9:55am

    And by the way I have been a Liberal all my life, and first joined the Party in 1986. I resigned in 2010 for 5 years because I believed keeping the Pledge was more important than any coalition agreement. The end does not justify the means.
    I recently found my father’s letter of acceptance to the European Movement in 1959. He was a lifelong Liberal through the hardest of times. Support for the European ideal is at the heart of British liberalism and we should never pretend it is not. We are on one side of the defining issue of the day, but we are never a single issue Party. I am currently organising a local election campaign where many Leavers will vote for us. We are not mentioning Brexit in that campaign because it is not relevant to it. We have plenty of other issues to talk about

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Apr '19 - 10:32am

    @Andrew McCaig
    “Unless the Customs Union or Single Market 2.0 are enshrined in the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement, or put to a People’s Vote, they are not worth the paper they are written on. Theresa May will not be in charge of this process.”

    Exactly. BoJo or one of his kind will be running the show.

  • Yeovil Yokel 3rd Apr '19 - 10:53am

    Michael : “How different things could have been had Norman been leader….” – quite, they could have been worse, point is we’ll never know.
    A lot of us around the country worked hard to help Norman retain his North Norfolk seat in 2017. If he were to resign the whip and become an independent MP (which I doubt he will) a lot of that support would evaporate and I doubt that he would survive. Maybe he’s thinking that he’s had enough of politics anyway, it’s certainly taken a toll on his health.

  • Denis Loretto 3rd Apr '19 - 11:16am

    I a previous thread I pointed out that our 11 MPs managed to vote 5 different ways on the latest set of indicative votes. Even in a non-whipped situation this is unusual to say the least. I think the basic reason is a profound difference in interpretation of the indicative vote process and the intention behind it. Some have regarded it as deciding and recording what each MP really wants to see happening. These people thought voting for example for “customs union” or “Common market 2” meant abandoning their previous positions and plumping for this, even if at the same time they were voting for “people’s vote”. Others regarded it as indicating their preferred broad direction if and when their first preference was to prove unachievable – the idea being to test out the degree to which each MP wanted to keep in close liaison with the EU or steer away from it and shift focus to the rest of the world. Norman Lamb clearly goes with this latter interpretation and I agree with him.

    Bear this in mind – if the general trend were to be towards single market/customs union membership might some brexiteers not warm more to “putting it to the people”? Already Nigel Dodds of the DUP has said he would prefer remaining in the EU to accepting the backstop contained in the withdrawal agreement.

  • James Coiley 3rd Apr '19 - 12:02pm

    I think there is often a confusion between “people’s vote” – that’s a process – and “stop Brexit” – that’s an outcome. The one may be a means to another, but I wouldn’t take that for granted. So a policy that is solely about a second Referendum is in my view not a policy at all.

    I don’t see any contradiction or confusion in a position which says that we would like to remain – but that we could – as a compromise, acknowledging the strength of contrary views – accept a Common Market 2.0 outcome. That’s not weak, just grown-up. If you want to add that we would like any outcome to blessed by a referendum, that’s fine, although we should perhaps be careful what we wish for.

    The last couple of years have made remaining harder as negotiations take on their own dynamic. Time is not on our side. Purist positions may be comforting, but the result is likely to favour the loudest voices and biggest numbers.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Apr '19 - 1:33pm

    @James Coiley “I think there is often a confusion between “people’s vote” – that’s a process – and “stop Brexit” – that’s an outcome.”
    Brilliantly put.
    I think that too many Remainers have treated another referendum as an end in itself, a surrogate for stopping Brexit (and indeed it might well lead to stopping Brexit but that is far from guaranteed). Consequently, supporting or opposing a “people’s vote” is regarded as being for or against Brexit and is still very divisive as recent parliamentary votes have shown.

  • David Evans 3rd Apr '19 - 3:17pm

    I totally support Normal Lamb’s position and was very disappointed the rest of the Lib Dem MPs did not feel the same way.

  • @Martin I think you are being harsh on Norman. I disagree with him on this, but he has been consistent in his lukewarm-ish views on Europe – as you say yourself – and he is an intelligent, thoughtful guy so I’m sure his opinions are the result of careful thought.
    Another factor is his constituency, which is in the most heavily Leave bit of the country – that East Anglian/east coast patch. As a LibDem he must have had to walk a tight line there just to keep his seat. I think we owe him a bit of latitude here. Another resignation over Brexit (that would be 1/6 of our MPs. Even higher than the Tories!!) would not be a good look.

  • Kofi Appiah 3rd Apr '19 - 9:27pm

    Do we seriously believe the UK Parliament is going to vote for another referendum or cancel Article 50? Our childish obsession with staying in the EU is going to negatively affect us in any subsequent General Election because we will be regarded as a one dimensional party. We seem to have completely forgotten that our unbridled obsession with being in EU cost us a lot of seats in the European Election last time and in the following General Election the latter of which was exacerbated by the unforgivable betrayal of students on tuition fees. We should be flexible and also learn the art of healthy and sensible compromise. The official party stand on EU is well-publicised but is it supported by every member, the answer is NOT. It’s not too late for a re-think. Whatever Mrs May has under her sleeve I hope it does not include calling a General Election; we will end up with just enough MPs to fill Del Boy’s motor.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Apr '19 - 10:09am

    It doesn’t matter that our MPs did not all vote the same way in the Indicative Votes, or that they are likely to do so again over any Divisions yet to come on various forms of soft Brexit. The party policy is clear and unambiguous. We hold that Brexit is bad for the country and must therefore be opposed. We are not a single issue party but we are consistent on this one all-consuming issue.

    We hope to achieve our aim of defeating Brexit by supporting another public vote, a democratic procedure, returning the issue to the people, who we hope and expect will vote to stay in and abandon the whole harmful, wasteful exercise.

    However, there has to be at least one alternative for the people to have a real choice in the vote, since Leavers won the last Referendum and many still want to leave. Hence the need for a deal on leaving to be offered, which has been agreed by Parliament and is acceptable to the EU 27. And since our Parliamentarians like all the others have to consider what are the least worst options to offer, they have enormously difficult compromises to consider and decisions to make. I don’t think we should look for uniformity on that, since none of the options are really good.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Apr ’19 – 10:09am……………………….It doesn’t matter that our MPs did not all vote the same way in the Indicative Votes, or that they are likely to do so again over any Divisions yet to come on various forms of soft Brexit. The party policy is clear and unambiguous. We hold that Brexit is bad for the country and must therefore be opposed. We are not a single issue party but we are consistent on this one all-consuming issue………….

    Katharine, I’m sure it’s my fault but could you explain this paragraph to me? I’m having trouble reconciling “consistent on this one all consuming issue” with “It doesn’t matter that our MPs did not all vote the same way in the Indicative Votes, or that they are likely to do so again over any Divisions yet to come on various forms of soft Brexit”.

    Voting both FOR, and AGAINST, various forms of soft Brexit doesn’t strike me as ‘consistent’.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Apr '19 - 6:42pm

    Expats, I’ll try to be clearer. I’m saying that our party’s policy is that Brexit is bad for the country and should be stopped, and the way for it to be stopped is through a People’s Vote in which hopefully the decision will be made to remain in the EU. That’s the democratic way towards the result we want, unlike Parliament just reversing Article 50 without consulting the people again.

    But voters will have to have a deal against which to assess our desired outcome of just staying in the EU. And it is the nature of that deal with which all our MPs, like so many others, have struggled and are likely to continue to struggle.

    It’s an inevitably difficult matter to decide on, since every proposed deal has its drawbacks, and none of them of course is as good as staying in. Our MPs may well find it difficult to decide what to support. On the one hand they will presumably be inclined to support a deal which is as close as possible to staying in. On the other hand, the more the proposed deal relates to staying in, the greater the danger that the voters in the proposed referendum may opt for that rather than the option of remaining! I think therefore our MPs and others who support the People’s Vote have real dilemmas over what to vote for in these crucial weeks.

    The situation is additionally complicated by the fact that neither Mrs May nor Mr Corbyn are themselves personally in favour of the People’s Vote. We have to hope that a majority in the House of Commons does come to accept its desirability, and that the EU will give us the time to hold it, as well as to participate in the EU elections in May.
    Obvious subjects for Sunday prayers!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '19 - 7:04pm

    Norman can be criticised for the coalition, as can every mp then , but he does defend and develop Liberal views better than most.

    Let us not keep on with obsessing on coalition or Brex….

  • Peter Martin 4th Apr '19 - 8:23pm

    @ Katharine,

    “It’s an inevitably difficult matter to decide on……………..”

    I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to know it isn’t. For the simple reason that it doesn’t matter what unutterably bad pseudo-leave deal is offered as an option to remaining. Hardly anyone will vote for it and Remain will win easily. Leave voters will just abstain and there’ll be no contest.

    However, you have to consider the political fall-out that will occur afterwards. It would probably be better if the pro-EU establishment just said, Basil Fawlty style, “Sorry I know you ordered Brexit but it’s off!”.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Apr '19 - 9:52pm

    I’d call it unscrupulous, Peter, to accept as an interim measure any ‘unutterably bad pseudo-deal’. as you colourfully put it! Presumably Norman Lamb was conscientously trying to select a deal which the voters in general might find acceptable. Leavers will have no reason to cause ructions, if they are offered a genuine choice. Though of course among the hazards ahead there is still the possibility that the EU 27, while prepared to give Britain extra time, wouldn’t find the possible alternative deal acceptable. Well, at least MPs have probably secured getting the extra time – lots of it.

  • Peter Martin 4th Apr '19 - 11:12pm

    @ Katharine, (and others)

    There has been some attempt here to estimate the level of support for the various options.


    It has May’s deal beating Remain by 56 : 44 in a straight choice.

    I don’t think this is at all likely. Many Leavers might well tell a pollster they’d prefer May’s deal to Remain. So the above figures are superficially correct. However, on the day, they would be quite annoyed that the option they would really like to vote for wasn’t on the paper. So they’d either write it in themselves, so spoiling the paper, or they simply wouldn’t vote at all in protest.

    A “People’s vote” will only work if No Deal is on the ballot paper. You could have additional options if you like and we could number them in order of preference. How hard is that? If No Deal is as bad as you say it is then you have to convince the electorate not to vote for it.

    Anything less will cause a backlash. It won’t solve anything.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Apr '19 - 9:13am

    Nom de Plume 2nd Apr ’19 – 7:28pm: Ken Clarke is still a member of the Tory Party and has been saying that he has been attending all the debates, voting for the PM’s deal and that his amendment was designed to maximise support in the Commons. He said that he would retire at the next general election but stood again in 2017,
    When Health Minister Norman Lamb spoke at federal conference his list of achievements was long, but pity the poor canvasser trying to understand and remember all that.

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