So this is how Jeremy Corbyn will be holding May to account on Brexit….

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, any half decent opposition leader would have lined up his most ferocious MPs to go to town on the PM over Brexit. We’ll gloss over the fact that any decent Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t have let the Article 50 Bill pass unamended in the first place.

But we don’t have a decent Leader of the Opposition. We have Jeremy Corbyn. You just get the feeling that if PMQs had been extended by a couple of hours, he wouldn’t have got round to asking a question on Brexit. No doubt he’d have asked about the weather and who the PM thought had done in Ken Barlow on Corrie.  He should have taken May apart on Brexit. He should have had half a dozen MPs lined up with killer questions.  But Labour MPs asked about anything but – until Tulip Siddiq came along. The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, a passionate and effective opponent of Brexit, asked about the £350 million a week for the NHS.

Later, in his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, rather than deliver a feisty riposte, he sounded like he was discussing the relative merits of different kinds of broad bean. There was no passion, no fire. “If she meets our tests, we’ll back her,” he said. Labour’s tests are meaningless anyway as they have failed them themselves. They had every opportunity to ensure that the Government’s strategy was changed to include membership of the single market, to stand up for the rights of EU nationals, and to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the deal. 

Thankfully, Tim Farron was there to deliver a ferocious statement of intent.

I thank the Prime Minister for her statement and for advance sight of it. Today the Prime Minister is not enacting the will of the people; she is at best interpreting that will, and choosing a hard Brexit outside the single market that was never on the ballot paper. This day of all days, the Liberal Democrats will not roll over, as the official Opposition have done.

Our children and grandchildren will judge all of us for our actions during these times. I am determined to be able to look my children in the eye and say that I did everything to prevent this calamity that the Prime Minister has today chosen. We now face an unknown deal that will shape our country for generations. The deal will be signed off by someone, and the only question is: who? Will it be the politicians, or should it be the people? Surely the Prime Minister will agree with me that the people should have the final say.

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  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Mar '17 - 9:11pm

    With respect, ‘The Voice’, it a not Jeremy Corbin who brought about this ( in my opinion) disastrous outcome but your coalition friend, David Cameron who put party before country.

  • Richard Hall 29th Mar '17 - 9:21pm

    We need the Liberal Democrats because this Labour opposition is going to continue to pander to its much ignored voters in the north of England, and the 48% of the voters who wanted to remain in the EU will not have a voice otherwise. It has been a stereotype that the Liberal Democrats “sit on the fence”, well it’s the Labour Party with the splinters – making gestures towards remainers whilst trying to figure out how they have lost so much support to UKIP in their heartlands of Hemsworth, Doncaster and elsewhere. Led by Jeremy Corbyn a man who is populist but not actually popular, and followed by people who live in a leftist bubble that is blind to reality and facts.

    As I’ve said before on here the centre ground is so big that people who respect and follow Owen Jones and those allied with George Osborne exist in it. That presents challenges for a “centrist party”, but it is an opportunity as well. We should take that opportunity and build a coalition based on compromise, respect, but good honest British values of openness and tolerance.

    A hard Brexit will make us smaller, weaker and may rip this country apart. That needs to be fought with everything we’ve got.

  • Richard Hall 29th Mar '17 - 9:29pm

    With respect Jayne Mansfield, it was a little of both. Cameron did send us down this path with the referendum, but Jeremy Corbyn has done little because of political reasons to hold May to account.

    This isn’t an either/or situation.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Mar '17 - 9:40pm

    @ Richard Hall,
    How Britain voted. ( You Gov):-
    Conservatives – 39- leave 61
    Labour- 65- leave 35
    Lib dems – 68- leave 32
    Green 80- leave 20

    If only the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, but particularly David Cameron, had persuaded their voters and supporters to vote remain!!

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Mar '17 - 10:45pm

    @ Martin.
    I prefer facts to speculation.

    Without wishing to sound too Gradgrindian, What are the facts?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Mar '17 - 11:23pm

    Yes , the Voice of sense and reason !

    Tim was given zero coverage on BBC1 and Sky , Corbyn one second on the BBC

    The news is now whatever the political correspondent deems to share which in the era of the sound bite is , very little !

  • Corbyn is a leftist extremist who has a long history of euroscepticism. He’s getting what he’s literally always wanted with Brexit, and sod the consequences for the rest of us. Labour MPs really need to grow backbones, stand up and depose the man before the cancer of Corbynism spreads too far.

  • Andrew Tampion 30th Mar '17 - 6:26am

    Red Liberal
    How are Labour MPs to depose Mr Corbyn when the members elect the Labour Leader and the members have twice elected him?

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '17 - 7:46am

    How do you effectively hold someone to account?

    Do you create a straw man (Hard Brexit) and indulge in some pretty juvenile ‘ya-boing’?

    Isn’t this a time for reflection, for listening very carefully to what people are saying?

    For engaging constructively? For putting forward ideas?

    Honestly, what quality of politician, of intellect, talks of being able ‘to look my children in the eye’?

    We have gradually transformed from being a Party for the People into the Party for the Technocracy. But then the EU is a technocracy and not a democracy. And we are a Party upholding Leviathan.

    We have become a pale shadow of a Liberal Party.

  • Well said Bill. We need a post-liberal liberalism.

  • I agree with Bill.

    One of the long term effects of the coalition and the EU referendum (the latter more than the former) is that it has changed the Lib Dems who are moving to be a progressive centrist rather than liberal party (certainly not a radical liberal party) with pro-EU being a very dominant theme – and in Scotland anti-independence (to the extent of seemingly dropping support for votes at 16 and for EU residents in an independence referendum)

    There isn’t anything wrong with forming such a party – and many former Lib Dem colleagues feel comfortable with that. In crude number terms (measured by membership) that isn’t an issue in development of that party, and it may be electorally successful (jury possibly still out on that but I think the polls will eventually catch up with what local and westminster by-elections are showing). But I don’t think it is a party for me – and at least some former colleagues seem to think similarly.

  • Alex Macfie 30th Mar '17 - 9:56am

    Jayne Mansfield: The Lib Dems were not in coalition with the Tories when the referendum was enacted. Cameron and the Coalition are the past. What matters now is opposing the PRESENT government, and Corbyn is failing to do so.l

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '17 - 10:29am

    @Alex: Mrs May, Davies and Hammond are engaged in some very complex political management both for their internal market and beyond that among the citizens of the UK.

    Leaders across the 27 and the so-called leadership of the EU know that.

    It is not going to be a ‘hard Brexit’, it is going to end up being a Brexit that works, in the circumstances, for GB and EU27 and the nonEU EEA membership, because the economics and the politics of this process are as important for each nation in the continent of Europe.

    Why haven’t we set out criteria for a Liberal Brexit – our preferences for a bespoke relationship with Germany, with the German Supply Chain ‘consortium’, with the Eurozone, with the non Euro members of the 27, with the non EU EEA membership?

    Why haven’t we expressed the reforms necessary within the nations of the UK? Why haven’t we started to campaign on Devo Max Plus Plus Plus for the constituent countries of the UK?

    Things are going to change drastically throughout the Continent of Europe over the next 20 years. We don’t have to be in the EU to influences those changes. We are influencing them now. Our actions are so conservative, so lacking in imagination. So stale. So undemocratic. So managerial, So much a defence of the entitled.

    And actually really unpatriotic.

  • I agree with Bill and Hywel.

    The Liberal Party (and subsequently the Liberal Democrats) that I joined had a great distrust of power and understood the process of accretion of power. Consequently its members were always very wary of large organisations and their motives. Unfortunately such scepticism has been sadly lacking in the party’s relationship with the EU for some time. Pronouncements that would be howled down by Lib Dem councillors if they came from Westminster can be contrasted with the warm welcome received by analogous measures and behaviours from the Leviathan that is the EU (to borrow Bill’s phrase).

    ‘Stronger economy, fairer society’ was bland, but ‘Stability, unity, decency’ spoke of a party that wanted to manage the system, not one that wanted to side with the individual and challenge the power of the state (be it at local, national or European level).

  • John Barrett 30th Mar '17 - 10:36am

    Alex Macfie – you are correct to say, “The Lib Dems were not in coalition with the Tories when the referendum was enacted”.

    However you should add that for many years Nick Clegg was very vocal in his support for an in/out EU referendum.

    This support appears to be forgotten be many, including Nick, who now express their doubts about accepting the EU referendum result.

  • Laurence Cox 30th Mar '17 - 11:26am

    John Barrett – you are quite right to draw attention to Nick Clegg’s repeated calls for an in/out referendum on the EU, rather than the referendum on the Lisbon treaty that would have been justified.

    The comments to the article are illuminating.

    No doubt, had the result of the 2010 General Election turned out differently and the only coalition option had been with Labour rather than the Tories, Clegg would have been just as ready to ditch this pledge as he was to ditch the promise on tuition fees (and with a Labour Party intent on implementing the Browne report recommendations, student tuition fees would have been even higher than they are).

  • @ arnieg ” not one that wanted to side with the individual and challenge the power of the state (be it at local, national or European level).”

    That is only half the story, arnie. What about challenging the power of big business and the multinational corporations that really run the show ?

    Indeed, as a radical Liberal of nearly sixty years standing I support a role for the state in opening up opportunities for the individual and in challenging the rich and powerful. The greatest of the old Liberal Governments recognised this post 1906

    As to the modern party, yes, it did change for the worse under the previous leader and now there is a measure of confusion as to what the party really believes and stands for. For example, there is a total contradiction in calling for a second Brexit referendum but opposing a second Scottish referendum.

    I, for one, after all these years, am doing a lot of hard thinking at the moment and I certainly can’t support a mushy in the middle one trick pony party.

  • PS… Forgot to add challenging the monopoly right wing media barons and the awfukness they encourage and pander to. The business of ‘legs’ in the photo of the First Minister and the Prime Minister this week is just another tacky example.

  • PPS Apologies for the typo above. Most embarrassing.

  • David Raw.
    Newspapers do not have any power over anyone other than politicians. Most people do not read them. A readership of couple of million here and there top whacks. And declining at that. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the likes of Rupert Murdoch have more power than the government. the eu. the Un, Obama and so on. The idea that they do is more or less baseless. Except in one area and that is politicians are historically linked to the press so conflate a couple of column inches with importance.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Mar '17 - 2:30pm


    Your views interest me even when I disagree.

    Nobody is more moderate and less kneejerk on this issue than me. Goodness knows there are policy areas that get me both rightly and, on reflection, sometimes , perhaps, unnecessarily het up ! The EU gets me thus as much in criticism as in support .

    But your comments are rather implicitly scathing of our leader, who, on this, though , as with Caron the editor here, even as I do not share the strength of feeling on this, I understand and respect it. Do elaborate further .


    You and me are from different generations and outlooks on many things too, politically , poles apart on only a few however.

    Your analysis above is not taking you in the direction it should in a man of your age and standing and experience.

    I , a generation younger than you, nonetheless get on well with and relate to and engage with that a generation younger than me, students much younger, by twenty five or more years. We must as Liberals and Democrats realise we can be part of the future by being part of the present .Couldn’t you see that the new era of members are motivated by those things that move them, more than say , issues I, you or anyone else might be moved by. That unites across age groups, all issues do.I have more that bonds me with an anti racist from South Africa who is black, than I do with a white Englishman who is a racist. We must see friends as friends , regardless of the obvious.

  • Sue Sutherland 30th Mar '17 - 2:40pm

    I think it’s a bit rich to deride Tim Farron for lack of intellect at the same time as accusing the party under his leadership as being the party of the Technocrat. Wasn’t it the intellectuals who almost destroyed the party? Wasn’t it the intellectuals who failed to win the Refendum and isn’t it the intellectuals who are about to destroy the UK? Tim has a much greater ability than being able to come up with a string of long words, he can speak to people’s feelings, he has experienced poverty and he knows the conditions that have led people to vote for nationalism. I hope that he will lead our party towards alleviating those conditions because he is a Liberal through to his soul. Our party needs some passion rather than arguments about how many angels you can get on the head of a pin.

  • I have not contributed to this site for a couple of months and have been content to read dispassionately the views of others..

    I had not realised how far this site would go to try and rewrite history…

    When Clegg was ‘getting stick’ from newspapers it was disgraceful…Now that it’s Corbyn they have no effect because no one reads them (Glenn)..
    Now LibDems are the ‘only party fighting disability changes and austerity measures’… Yet, in coalition when we had a chance to say the same thing, we actively supported them…
    Corbyn is a ‘leftist extremist’ (Red Liberal) ..Well, all those extremists I’ve come across were ardent firebrands, not ‘feeble and flabby’ (Martin)…

    As for the verbal somersaults in trying to differentiate between the ‘democracy’ of a second EU vote and the ‘dictat’ of a second Scottish referendum, the less said the better…

    There are few here who hold the my views so I’ll return to just reading..

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '17 - 3:52pm

    Lorenzo, on this speech, scathing, yes. Perhaps I have been reading too much Cicero of late, but at this truly critical time for the countries and regions of the UK, we need the highest level of thought and wisdom. Demagoguery just wont do.

    I like what Arnie and Hywel are saying above. And then I realise that I have been campaigning with, learning from and relying on them for more than thirty years.

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '17 - 4:12pm

    Sue, well here’s the nub; is nationalism, is pride in one’s country, in the unique culture that nurtured us, or the unique culture that nurtured the people of present day Greece, or Portugal, or Southern Italy or Spain, all of which are being forced into the ‘one way’, the commodification of people, the market ‘over all’, the trammelling of diversity … is that evil?

    No it is not. People who use nationalism to take power from people, they are evil, but this corporate subservience, this exchange of citizenship for a sickening individualism of the customer, this breaking up of the sense of community this subversion of the respect for difference, this contempt for roots this is a deprivation of Liberty.

  • Expats,
    I’ve never believed the press has much effect on the public. I think it’s effect is largely on the political classes coz really they’re sort of like trade papers. The truth is the newspapers have the power the political classes give them because the actually readership is not that large really. Instead blaming the press. ask why editorials with only thousands of readers frame the political debate amongst MPs and on the TV coverage. Trump may be a buffoon but he at least understands that the press has very little real clout.

  • @ Glenn “Newspapers do not have any power over anyone other than politicians”.

    … and, down the food chain, don’t the politicians have power over the people, Glenn ? I doubt you’d get much support for your opinion in Liverpool post Hillsborough – and are you old enough to remember the Kinnock election in 1992. ‘It’s the Sun wot won it’ !

    For my part, I’m pretty certain that the daily drip of hate on immigration and misinformation on £ 350 million a week for the NHS in the Mail, Express, Sun etc., had sufficient impact in the EU Ref to swing the 1.8% margin.

    @ Lorenzo. Ah, bless. Well, young man….., it’s very kind of you to be concerned about the direction I may or may not be going in, but it would be a bit more helpful if you could tell me what you thought that direction was. I’m afraid your circumlocution is a tad obscure and difficult to follow sometimes – though I’m sure you mean well.

    As to being in touch with students, it may surprise you to know that at my doddery advanced age I’ll be attending my Masters graduation in a couple of weeks time. If you want to assist me up the steps you’ll be most welcome.

    PS If you come, please don’t ask my wife, ‘Does he take sugar ?’. She’s pretty handy with my old cricket bat (autographed fifty years ago by Freddie Trueman and more recently by young Darren Gough). They bowled better bouncers than you do.

    Ah well, blessings and peace be with you…… must go and have a sit down now.

  • Bayo Ogunrotifa 30th Mar '17 - 5:55pm

    Alex Macfie, John Barrett and other liberal democrats are still deceiving themselves saying it was not under coalition government that referendum act was enacted. Whether you oppose it or not, the history will be written that under Cameron/Clegg coalition leadership, the path for Brexit was laid. I think it is time to accept responsibility and lets move forward. Otherwise, Corbyn will laugh at your comments and attack you with your culpability when the time comes.

  • The Sun wot won. is self aggrandisement. Just because someone says they’re a huge force doesn’t mean they are. Loads of people used to read the Sun and then vote Labour. I think the daily drip on immigration has less effect than people just seeing their country change and really the press is more reflective than formative. Far more people get their news from TV and that’s mostly fairly liberal. Personally, I just think people are a bit tribal and prone to forming into groups. In the case of immigration about between 70%-78% population want it lower. I don’t think the readership of the Sun comes remotely close to that figure.

  • @ Glenn You’re still dodging the point that if politicians take notice of the papers, their subsequent actions down the food chain do affect people. Just like Teresa May, you dodge the point by talking about something else.

  • David Raw,
    Harping on about the Battle bus is just a desperate bid to reduce Remain failures to one minor advert. It’s like me claiming that it if hadn’t have been for celebs like Eddie Izzard on question time and Bob Geldof’s Thames Jaunt leave would have got 60%. The fact is remain had more money, more coverage, more political clout and it lost because Brit’s jut don’t like the EU that much.

  • David Evans 30th Mar '17 - 7:13pm

    @Bayo Ogunrotifa – Nice joke. Keep on saying it and you will come to believe it’s always someone else’s fault.

  • If Arnie G is who I think it is then will Bill and myself it makes about 15% of the ALDC management committee from 1994-5 that now think the same way about a changed party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Mar '17 - 11:35pm


    Good response , keep saying it even if do not fully agree , we need to hear more than I love EU !


    If obscure were a compliment or criticism you would be able to use it to me without my offence taken, but I would have to return it , as I indeed had to look up circum…

    As for your masters , is that receiving or giving ?!

    What I meant is you are part of whatever is the direction of travel , as am I or any of us in the party, but what that is is to be seen , and seen to mean , whatever we want it to !

    Confused? You won,t be after this weeks episode of …

  • Katharine Pindar 31st Mar '17 - 1:17am

    There is a lot of nostalgia here, and nit-picking, not to my mind constructive. I was a member of the Liberal Party long before the Lib Dems came to be, but I’m not harking back to a non-existent golden age of pure liberalism in our party.

    Like Sue Sutherland, I value Tim Farron’s leadership, which is both practical and passionate. He has been consistent in his response to the Referendum result from the start, but with the sense to refine the approach appropriately as matters develop, and he has successfully brought the party with him. He also delivers consistently fine speeches – I sat next to sceptics at the Spring Conference finale who were convinced by him then; and his speech to the March for Europe was electrifying. With Nick Clegg being the master of the Parliamentary speech and crystal clear in his knowledgeable exposure of the Government’s Brexit fantasy and follies, we have an excellent dual leadership for this crucial time of the negotiations.

    And, Lorenzo, I can see through any circumlocutions of yours to the attitudes you hold and the points you essentially make, and I am entirely with you in the above. You at least don’t need to be reading Cicero! (oh, and Bill, I trust that that was in Latin, it would be appropriate for you I think!)

  • Alex Macfie 31st Mar '17 - 8:30am

    Bayo: Corbyn will attack us? Now what was it that Denis Healey said about being attacked by Geoffrey Howe?

  • I don’t see Corbyn attacking the Lib Dems in a direct way. It’s not his style. He tends to stick to his view and repeat it. He also tends to communicate in a nuanced way. I suspect he doesn’t really see the Lib Dems as relevant to what he believes. He doesn’t write articles, doesn’t do many interviews and doesn’t do much media stuff. Attacks are more likely to come from the more trad Labour party machine style campaigners.

  • @ Glenn “Harping on about the battlebus”.

    I know you must have a vivid imagination, Glenn, but twas not me, pal. Never mentioned it. Must be some other poor soul daring to tell the truth. The only harp I know about is waiting for me somewhere up beyond the far blue yonder (possibly).

    I’m afraid you’re inventing a terminological inexactitude about me introducing the subject of a much misused method of transport which I had never mentioned. True it carried a whopping great fiction on it as well as those two Laurel & Hardy dodgy pals Boris and nippy sweetie wee Govey. A quick withdrawal please or m’learned friends might just be in communication.

    @ Katharine Nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia, Katharine. Give me a steam loco (Flying Scotsman will do) any day. You ought to know nostalgia can be a great comfort sometimes.

    For the record I know, like and value Tim as Leader and appreciate the difficulties he faces dealing with some members of the previous regime who have not always been kind about him. As for Nick, I can forgive to an extent – but it’s hard to forget. Let’s just say no sinner is beyond redemption if he keeps working on it..

    Off for the weekend now for a bit of comforting nostalgia – going to see the mighty Hudds Town overcome poor little Burton Albion tomorrow and celebrate Dad-in-law’s 90th. Priorities ‘n all that. In your part of the world it would be nice to see Workington Reds have a bit of a resurrection too.

  • David Raw
    It was more of a general point not aimed at you in particular. But getting caught in the comment flood warning thing means it is possible I did get you mixed up with someone else. Also this is a comment section not a court of law and we’re just people having a chat. I said what I think, you said what you think. We disagree and cross examination is meaningless in that context m’lord.

  • Katharine Pindar 31st Mar '17 - 11:58pm

    David – nay, lad, no time for nostalgia, too much living still to do with the Lib Dems and other friends (though pleased to see the Flying Scotsman on the Settle-to-Carlisle line, and know that that’s open again). Happy for Huddersfield Town still under their inspiring German manager (hurray for our German friends!), but can’t get enthusiastic for Workington Reds, never sadly having learnt to play that game unlike the football I love.
    Hope you enjoy your weekend festivities – isn’t it good to be able to savour our relative youth by going to 90th birthday celebrations? me too at Easter!

  • Bill le Breton 4th Apr '17 - 8:01pm

    Good to learn from Caron’s Twitter that Vince’s view is, “I oppose nationalism but not opposed to patriotism. People see left wing politicians as not taking their pride in country seriously”

    This is exactly where our present comms strategy is vulnerable.

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