Stephen Lloyd resigns Lib Dem whip over Brexit deal

According to BBC South East’s Helen Catt.

It’s because of what he called “irreconcilable differences” between what he sees as his obligations to his Eastbourne constituents and the party’s anti Brexit position.

Stephen promised his constituents, a majority of whom voted to leave that he wouldn’t block Brexit. Perhaps the party’s mistake was allowing him to stand on that basis in 2017.

It’s sad but probably inevitable and the right decision in the circumstances. He’a A good guy and has been great opposing Universal Credit.

UPDATE: The Eastbourne Herald has Stephen’s letter to Alistair Carmichael, our Chief Whip:

Dear Alistair – It is with regret that I am writing to you to tender my resignation of the party whip in Parliament. I have come to this conclusion because the pledge I made to my town cannot be honestly reconciled with the position of the Party over the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Bill, and the People’s Vote.

Though I fought as a Remainer during the referendum, and still believe we would be better off in the EU, I also made a clear promise to my constituency, Eastbourne & Willingdon, at the time that I would accept the result, support the deal the PM brought back from the EU and not back calls for a second referendum. And as we have discussed, I will be keeping my word to my town. However, I appreciate me voting this way and not supporting a People’s Vote, are counter to the Liberal Democrat’s formal position. Consequently I have decided the only honourable thing for me to do is to resign the party whip in Parliament.

Rest assured though, that I will continue to fight hard for liberal values and press my constituents cases actively in Westminster, as I have always done. I am genuinely saddened to take this action as have nothing but respect and affection for you, my parliamentary colleagues and for our Party. With best wishes – Stephen Lloyd MP

And a Lib Dem spokesperson said:

We respect what we know was a difficult decision for Stephen ahead of next week’s vote and are sorry to see him go. Liberal Democrats are clear that we will be voting against Theresa May’s deal.

“The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for an exit from Brexit and a people’s vote where people can choose to remain in the European Union… we will continue to fight for this in Parliament.

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

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  • The right decision?

    I think not.

    What happened to allowing MPs to exercise their judgement?

  • I hope he can come back next summer.

  • Chris Bertram 6th Dec '18 - 2:42pm

    A shame, but another illustration of the debatable wisdom of making unbreakable pledges to your constituents on a particular item of policy, when the circumstances that made that pledge seem right at the time can so easily change to make it seem wrong now. It’s very likely that opinion concerning Brexit in Eastbourne has swung away from it’s “pro” position of May 2017, along with the rest of the country. Yet Stephen feels bound to stick with his position as of then. I’m sure he feels deeply conflicted. But there are lessons to learn for all of us.

  • Rob Parsons 6th Dec '18 - 2:45pm

    I do not see that this is the right or the ethical decision in any way. Stephen’s promise was ethical and well intentioned to begin with, and he has received a great deal of credit for it. But his position has now become characterised by stubbornness rather than ethics. I would go so far as to argue that keeping his promise is now less ethical than breaking it.

    In 2016 it was possible to argue that Brexit would be good for Britain, or at the very least that the gains in sovereignty etc would be worth the pain it might cause to some people in some places. It is no longer possible to argue that.

    Here is an analogy. Stephen has taken his family out on a picnic in their car. His daughter has just passed her driving test, and Stephen promises her that he will let her drive home.

    The picnic ends, the daughter drives the car away with Stephen in the passenger seat beside her and the rest of the family in the back seats. The daughter drives from side to side across the road and eventually begins to drive the car towards an abyss. The family in the back seat beg Stephen to wrest the controls from his daughter, but he says, “No, I made a promise”….

    There comes a point when one is absolved from the responsibility to keep a promise. In fact there comes a point where keeping a promise becomes unethical. Stephen seems to have passed that point. I cannot support his stance in any way.

  • Roger Billins 6th Dec '18 - 2:51pm

    I despair about our party. It is truly ironic that the two great parties of state, who are truly riven by Brexit manage to stay together and it’s us who lose an M.P. My doubts, expressed elesewhere about the People’s Vote, are reinforced. It wiill be a horribly destructive affair. If I was an M.P, I would be going down the Norway plus option.

  • David Warren 6th Dec '18 - 3:13pm

    The party has a good base in Eastbourne.

    Not only is Stephen the MP but the borough council is also run by the Lib Dems.

    Brexit is an issue that goes across party lines.

    Eastbourne voted to leave and given that fact I can see why Stephen made his pledge at the last General Election.

    My hope is that he can come back into the fold as it were sometime in the very near future.

  • Chris Bertram 6th Dec '18 - 3:24pm

    @Roger Billins – Labour has lost a couple of MPs to Independent recently, and in at least one of those cases (Frank Field) the MP’s stance on Brexit has been a pretty big factor in their departure.

  • David Evans 6th Dec '18 - 3:26pm

    Re the party allowing Stephen to stand, Bearing in mind that he was the ex MP who only lost by 700 in 2015 Clegg catastrophe and Eastbourne was chosen to be a “disabled seat” in accordance with the party’s decision to become more representative of the diversity of the country as a whole a) was there much of an alternative choice and b) if we don’t have people on both sides of the Brexit divide how diverse are we?

  • @Chris Bertram

    According to Best for Britain research, Eastbourne hasn’t quite turned Remain. It’s very close, though, 49.3% to 50.7% and will likely shift further in the coming weeks.

    I entirely agree that the harsh lesson in not making pledges given to us by the tuition fees debacle has not been learned.

    Stephen, and others, should also look at this as a lesson in not giving up. When he made the promise it probably looked like stopping Brexit was a very outside chance and it wouldn’t do any harm to go along with it.

    It’s is good though to see that the lesson of not breaking a pledge, no matter how foolish it was to make it, has been learned.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th Dec '18 - 3:45pm

    @David Raw: Remember that the Tories took billions out of Universal Credit the minute we were off the scene. Since he has been social security spokesperson, he has consistently called for the roll out of UC to be stopped.

  • chris moore 6th Dec '18 - 3:55pm

    I am a strong remainer.

    But I can understand good liberal resaons for leaving.

    We used to have a lot of support amongst leave voters; we have lost that by being one dimensional and intolerant.

    I hope Stephen Lloyd returns to the parliamentary party as soon as possible. His stance is reasonable.

  • George Potter 6th Dec '18 - 3:58pm

    According to YouGov today, Eastbourne is one of 262 constituencies which prefer Remain to No Deal and Remain to the Brexit Deal – aka where the majority want Remain over any other option:

  • Sarah Brown 6th Dec '18 - 4:04pm

    “Not only is Stephen the MP but the borough council is also run by the Lib Dems.” – which makes me really sad that the place is so utterly hostile to cyclists.

  • Peter Watson 6th Dec '18 - 4:05pm

    I do think that Lib Dems should be careful about comments demanding that one of their MPs must break a promise to those who voted for him lest they are quoted out of context. The party dug a deep enough hole for itself over that several years ago and should have put the spade away!

  • Sarah Brown 6th Dec '18 - 4:07pm

    Lib Dem members – “We can’t understand why the millions of remainers aren’t voting for us”

    Also Lib Dem members – “Our parliamentarians should absolutely be expected to vote to leave the EU and not face any consequences for that.”

    Guys, pick one.

  • Rob Parsons. Thank you for a cogent presentation of the ethical position. Can’t fault it.

  • What a pitiful situation and a comment on how illiberal a supposedly liberal party has allowed itself to become.

  • David Raw 6th Dec ’18 – 2:50pm….

    David, I’m not as up to date as you on Stephen Lloyd’s voting record but your post suggests that Caron’s ” A good guy and has been great opposing Universal Credit” is way off the mark.
    As far as I’m concerned the best news for some time has been the headline that “Scottish parties ( SNP, Labour, LibDems and Scottish Greens) are to unite to oppose May’s deal/no-deal options on Brexit”.
    Where is the coverage on LDV? Instead of a positive response to the news that everyone (apart from Scottish Tories) are opposing the debacle that is ‘May’s Brexit we still have the ‘us and them’ approach on this site.

    With every passing thread it seems to me that, unless the rejection of Brexit has ONLY a LibDem logo on the document, then it isn’t suitable. Even Churchill accepted that differences should be set aside to overcome a common enemy.

    C’mon, Caron, how about a lthread about our common ground with other parties for once?

    BTW, David, …moved to Suffolk, wine rack set up and enquiries made about helping the homeless/rough sleepers…Priorities established..

  • Peter Watson 6th Dec '18 - 4:25pm

    @George Potter “According to YouGov today, Eastbourne …”
    From what I can tell from the data underpinning that, the split in Eastbourne seems to be 49% remain vs. 27% leave with a deal vs. 23% leave with no deal, so in terms of Bremain or Brexit, it does still look pretty split down there (
    Also, this is based on a model and who knows how many Eastbourne constituents were involved and how representative they are, let alone how good the model is (especially when extrapolated to individual constituencies).
    Both sides are at risk of cherry-picking to support the conclusions they want to draw, and the only thing that appears to be certain is that the country is still very divided, whether or not that division has shifted slightly to Remain.

  • Martin Land 6th Dec '18 - 4:26pm

    Support for Europe is a fundamental for this party. If his conscience is so sensitive he should not have stood as a Lib Dem candidate at the last election.

  • Zoe O'connell 6th Dec '18 - 4:30pm

    Lloyd’s pledge to support whatever deal May came back with was essentially a pledge to take the Tory whip on Europe. He’s now saying he wants to continue taking that whip when even May’s own MPs, on both the Remain and Leave side, are rebelling against it.

    It should be obvious that a LibDem promising to taking the Tory whip on any topic is a problem. It’s completely intolerable for that to continue when even Tory MPs ignore it on such a critical issue. It’s a shame Lloyd didn’t change his position in the light of new facts but if he felt unable to do so, resigning as a LibDem appears the only course of action open to him.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th Dec '18 - 4:36pm

    @ExPats because the debate was yesterday and I was working all day, out all evening and hardly around today. It’s on my list of things to post about..

  • Alex Macfie 6th Dec '18 - 4:37pm

    There was recently an article in the New European about the danger of ‘pledge politics’, which does not mention this specific incident, but is clearly applicable to it. Making virtues out of (a) political candidates making “cast-iron” pledges, and (b) keeping them at all costs once made, is dangerous because such ‘pledge politics’ makes politicians beholden to interest groups. We need to get away from it altogether. Stephen Lloyd shouldn’t have made the pledge he made, just as our candidates should not have made the tuition fees pledge in 2010.

  • David Evans 6th Dec '18 - 4:40pm

    Caron as David says “I don’t doubt it Caron……. but that only made it worse.”

    Our leadership were arrognt enough to sacrifice our party’s future for a few years sharing a small bit of power, and many, including almost all on LDV, sang their praises throughout. Now most of those who pointed out the ineptitude of the whole thing, and were roundly decried as wrong by so many, have left the party, leaving behind only those who truly believed and are responsible for the mess.

    Putting it simply “How can you build and safeguard a fair, free and open society if you are prepared to ignore and ultimately sacrifice almost all those who fought for it and you, for your few years in power.” The Conservatives made sure we were sacrificed and stabbed us in the back for good measure, just to be sure.

    We had an army that could have changed Britain for good. There is very little of it left. I suppose sorry is still the hardest word.

  • David Blake 6th Dec '18 - 4:55pm

    I think it’s sad that Stephen seems to have made up his mind about the deal before he actually saw it and before he saw the recent opinion polls which indicate that Eastbourne is more Remain-minded than he thought. Oh dear.

  • Whilst I wish Stephen Lloyd was not voting for the “deal” and indeed many will feel has reached the wrong conclusion, this action is not particularly desireable. If it was more his own choice so be it but the core anti Brexit stance does not mean a dissenting voice has no place. The party can barely afford to lose Mp’s, hopfully back in the fold at some point though remains to be seen if Stephen will stand again. Even being the only main party (if can still call Lib Dems that) with a clear EU stand has lead to little dividend thus far and need to connect on other issues. (some of electorate don’t even know our main one) Admittedly I’m not an active member but at the moment keep an interest.

  • David Allen 6th Dec '18 - 5:19pm

    Effectively Lloyd’s 2017 campaign masterstroke was “So that I can win votes from more people, I will pledge to support the Tories on Brexit, and to disregard my own conviction that their Brexit policy is wrong.” Well, this Vicar of Bray tactic probably won Lloyd his election (by less than 3%), but it has now rebounded spectacularly.

    I see that some posters above have argued that, having made a disgraceful pledge, Lloyd should have compounded his folly by breaking it. No doubt Lloyd knows that, if he had done that, he would have faced problems retaining his deposit at the next Eastbourne election.

    The right answer is – No, this party should not have allowed Lloyd to stand and to make the pledge that he made. He should have been asked to choose between abandoning the pledge or stepping down. He makes the Lib Dems a laughing stock.

  • Caron Lindsay 6th Dec ’18 – 4:36pm…………@ExPats because the debate was yesterday and I was working all day, out all evening and hardly around today. It’s on my list of things to post about…

    Thanks for your response,Caron; I look forward to reading it.

    My point was rather more broad in that we (or do I just mean a few others here) have a overriding goal in removing a government that stands for everything that I (we) abhor on basic fairness and respect for those without a voice. I look for common ground with other parties (be they Labour, SNP or Greens) rather than differences and wish LDV talked up commonality rather than differences.

  • I’m sorry to hear about this. It seems entirely avoidable to me. Stephen’s position has been very clear on this, and it’s not like he is a serial rebel. I think the appropriate course would have been to allow him to vote as he has promised his constituents and make clear he was being allowed to retain the whip due to the very exceptional circumstances of this situation.
    As I posted in a thread elsewhere, I also believe that if he votes for May’s deal on the 11th and it fails (as it will) then he could argue that he has kept his pledge but that he now feels free of it. He could at that point say that the government has failed to deliver Brexit (not his fault because he voted for it) and so he now supports a PV to resolve the situation. I think this would have been an entirely honourable position, and there would have been no need to resign the whip.

  • Yeovil Yokel 6th Dec '18 - 6:36pm

    This will create difficulties for his local party but in national terms ‘‘tis but a flesh wound’ (as long as the May Deal doesn’t pass by just one vote). At least Stormin’ Norman of North Norfolk is on board.

  • John Marriott 6th Dec '18 - 6:42pm

    I gather that, back in 1972/3 Edward Heath allowed a free vote over the original EEC Bill. Together with Labour rebels such as Roy Jenkins and Dick Taverne, who actually resigned his seat and fought a by election as ‘Democratic Labour’, the bill was passed.

    Perhaps a free vote on this occasion might have been a good idea as well. In the meantime, it’s nice to see that not all the Lib Dems are singing from the same hymn sheet!

  • Alex Macfie 6th Dec '18 - 7:07pm

    David Allen: I’m not convinced that Stephen Lloyd “would have faced problems retaining his deposit at the next Eastbourne election” if he broke his pre-election pledge. Certainly he is caught between a rock and a hard place, and for that he has no-one to blame but himself. But I don’t believe that, should he break the pledge, voters would reject him just because he did. Electorates are fickle, and are certainly not bound to some deontological rule “My representative pledged X, so must support X, regardless of whether they or I support it.” No-one in Eastbourne is going to say, “I was against Brexit and against May’s deal, but I think Stephen Lloyd was [right to vote for it | should have voted for it] because of his pledge.” If voters in the constituency have changed their minds over the issue that was central to his pledge, then they are not going to reward him for keeping it.
    Tuition fees was a different thing altogether, as many people voted for us specifically because of the pledge, and there is no evidence that those voters had changed their minds on the issue when (some) Lib Dem MPs voted to triple tuition fees. But the principle remains the same, in that it was a mistake to sign the pledge in the first place.
    And Mr Lloyd may have a hard time keeping his seat if he keeps the pledge because he would alienate Lib Dem voters who supported the party over its anti-Brexit policy, as well as Lib Dem activists who would be unlikely to go and help his election campaign next time around. That’s if he’s still our candidate at the next election.
    He could join Zac Goldsmith as someone who was punished by the voters for keeping a pledge.

  • While I don’t personally agree with Stephen Lloyd’s position, mainly because the deal Mrs May has negotiated is so poor, it concerns me that he has been forced to resign the whip because of it. Don’t recall Messrs Clegg and Cable doing similar when they reneged on the Tuition Fees pledge.

    While I voted Remain and donated to the Lib Dem campaign fund, that was more in terms of thinking the Leave option was worse than conviction about the EEC. As a party, we needed to be more Eurosceptic in scrutinising and challenging that institution. However, there were Lib Dems including a former MP in the Leave campaign and it feels wrong to me to assert that you cannot be both a Lib Dem and Brexit supporter. I am disappointed that Stephen Lloyd has been forced into this position and hope that he returns to the party before too long.

  • Matt Dolman 6th Dec '18 - 7:30pm

    Despite his resigning the whip this remains a particularly Lib-Dem-esque example of utter idiocy.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Dec '18 - 7:38pm

    Let us see how he describes himself, if, for instance, there is an early general election.
    Independent Liberal Democrat would describe his position. It seems that Nick Clegg made him spokesman on Northern Ireland, (perhaps as a punishment? there are not a lot of Irish in Eastbourne).
    The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland offer the real thing in local government and in the devolved provincial assembly (which, shamefully for the DUP and the Tories has not met since it was elected).
    Their current leader is Naomi Long. Previous leaders include David Ford and John Alderdice.

  • Rob Parsons 6th Dec '18 - 7:43pm

    AlexB – do you have evidence that this was forced on him and not his own decision?

  • There can be no compromise with the electorate.

  • Leekliberal 6th Dec '18 - 7:57pm

    Stephen – Even though a passionate remainer, as a Liberal I fully respect your right of conscience on your decision to keep an election promise to your voters. Please rejoin our Parliamentary Group as soon as possible!

  • His decision but a wrong headed one. As to compromising with stupidity, it never ends well.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Dec '18 - 8:09pm

    David Evans: Will you *please* give it a rest? Not everything has to be about the Coalition. If there is any connection between Stephen Lloyd and the Coalition, it is that he has learnt the wrong lesson from tuition fees debacle — it was not that he should keep his pledge at any cost, but that political candidates should never make any pledge for short-term electoral gain that could leave them hostage to fortune. Unlike some here, I do not respect Stephen’s to keep an election pledge, because I do not respect his having made the pledge in the first place.
    Also David Evans, I dispute some of your assertions in 6th Dec ’18 – 4:40pm; actually most of the architects of the Coalition project have left the stage, including of course our Leader at the time. Meanwhile, the bulk of the current party membership joined after the 2015 disaster, so have no connection to or stake in the party’s recent past.

  • I find it astounding that any MP can pledge to vote for something as yet to be identified.

    The Tuition Fees pledge was bonkers, a pledge that should never have been made, but at least it represented something distinctly identifiable: the choice of Parliament to fund tuition fees whether through unpopular tax rises or otherwise.

    To pledge to vote for whatever Deal would emerge from the Brexit negotiations, on the other hand, is bizarre. The Deal was not known when he made this pledge. There might have been no deal at all. Does that mean Lloyd would have had to vote for a no-deal hard Brexit.

    I accept Lloyd’s choice to be a delegate rather than a representative, but his position on the detail, not the basic principle, is utterly indefensible, I think.

  • What happens if after the Government loses the vote on the withdrawal agreement they then go on to lose a confidence vote and a general election is triggered? Does Stephen Lloyd stand as an independent, and does the Eastbourne party select a PPC to stand against him and split the vote? Or does he hastily take the whip again, in which case does he drop his pledge or does he stand on a platform of opposing a key party policy?


  • Have there been any recent polls in Eastbourne? Or a ‘Brexitometer’ on the streets?

    Has he done as my MP, Heidi Allen, has done and held recent public meetings about it (and now she has come out for a People’s Vote after sitting on the fence for two years)?

    If not, why not, and what information has he got on the current feelings in his constituency?

  • David Warren 6th Dec '18 - 9:04pm


    What you describe is worse case scenario.

    If we do get a General Election soon and I hope we do there are a variety of ways of dealing with what might be a difficult situation in Eastbourne.

    In the event that Stephen is not part of the parliamentary party at that point then one option would be to do what the party did in relation to the two MPs John Cartwright and Rosie Barnes who didn’t join the merger in 1992.

    That is to not stand a candidate.

  • Jane Ann Liston 6th Dec '18 - 10:02pm

    Wonder why he didn’t decide to abstain?

  • This whole sorry situation raises a variety of issues …
    1. If Stephen Lloyd genuinely believed, as a matter of principle, that it was in the national interest to support Mrs May’s “deal”, I would strongly disagree with him – but, as a liberal, would defend his right to take that view and to vote according to his conscience. In these circumstances, at least his position would be more understandable, albeit IMO profoundly wrong and also incompatible with Lib Dem policy.
    2. However, it seems that Mr Lloyd has only taken this position in order to fulfil an election pledge to vote for whatever Brexit “deal” the Govt was able to negotiate – and to give an unqualified commitment of this sort, presumably to buy himself a few extra votes, seems to me an act of supreme folly which betrays incredibly poor political judgement, even in the heat of a tightly contested election campaign. On this ground alone, I would seriously question his suitability as an MP, whether or not he takes the Lib Dem Whip.
    3. Mr Lloyd was clearly foolish to make such a pledge (perhaps he regrets this himself in hindsight?) – but having done so, I feel that he now has no option but to honour it and vote as he has said he will. To now act otherwise would only compound the damage … by adding untrustworthiness to misjudgement on the charge sheet against him!

  • @Jane Ann Liston – He told his constituents he would vote for Brexit. He wants to honour that pledge, so abstaining is no good. It would be just as ‘bad’ as voting against.

  • He’s made the right decision and the only honourable one he could do.

  • Maybe he is simply part of the 30% of Liberal Democrats who actually voted to leave in the referendum and who still support leave.
    Mind you, he could never come out and openly admit to such a thing due to the amount of flack he would receive.
    After all, it does not appear your allowed an opinion unless it fits with party policy.

    In order to speak your mind and voice a true opinion on the EU, Immigration for instance, you have to first lose your seat at an election. Just ask vince 🙂 Then, once you regain your seat, you then have to change your opinion and tow the party line once more and then become leader

  • From the previous discussion on Stephen Lloyd and Brexit it seems that Stephen made at least two promises with regard to Brexit, that he would vote against another referendum and that he would support the negotiated Brexit deal. I would hope that all Liberal Democrat elected representatives are always allowed to vote against the agreed Liberal Democrat position if they have made a promise to do something which is against the agreed position. Their promise should always out-weigh an agreed position.

    I am surprised that some members of the party think the lesson from the broken tuition fee pledge is not to make promises to the electorate. The lesson is not to not make promises, because a candidate has to make some promises on what they will support if elected; the lesson is that if you promise to vote a particular way then you must keep your promise. I still feel strongly that all of our MPs who broke their tuition fee promise should have had their membership revoked for bringing the party into disrepute.

    @ Andrew Hickey

    I can’t see a commitment to EU membership in the preamble to our constitution. In the preamble we just set out our values and what we will work for – “Within the EC we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles”.

  • At least Eastbourne conservatives will have to come up with a new attack line in this Libdem/Tory marginal

  • Alex Macfie 7th Dec '18 - 8:35am

    Michael BG: I didn’t say we shouldn’t make promises, only that we shouldn’t make promises that leave us hostage to fortune. And any pledge to vote for or against X, whatever the circumstances, falls into that category. A fundamental principle of Parliamentary democracy is that MPs are representatives, not delegates, and making such a pledge violates that principle.

    As for the idea that an MP votes against the agreed party line because they made a pledge to do so should get a free pass, I also find this dangerous, quite apart from the fact that it invites the question of why he was allowed to stand as a Liberal Democrat in the first place. It’s dangerous because it leads to politicians being bought by special interest groups. One reason why it’s so difficult to get gun control in the US is the many members of Congress and the senate who have pledged to the NRA to vote against any such laws. It’s grubby politics to make a promise against your principles in the hope of winning a few votes.

  • Unwise to have made the promise, though he may well not have won had he failed to do so.
    Electorally suicidal to break it. Anyone recall why that might be?
    And no mere MP can ever hope to be holier than the (unelected) Popes of Liberal Democracy who dispense their wisdom here.

  • Graham Jeffs 7th Dec '18 - 9:11am

    Why on earth do we adhere to the conventions of a rigid party whip system?

    If we want to differentiate ourselves surely we should be underscoring the view that an MP, albeit elected on the basis of a broad party program (to which they may or may not have indicated total support), is a representative of their constituents not merely the party.

    Much of the disenchantment with “politicians” seems to stem from the electorate’s perception that politicians always do what is dictated to them by their party. In this particular case a free vote should have been advocated.

  • Peter Watson 7th Dec '18 - 9:47am

    @Graham Jeffs “Why on earth do we adhere to the conventions of a rigid party whip system?”
    It allows the party to monitor parliamentary voting numbers and ensure that very prominent MPs miss high profile close Brexit votes! 🙁

  • Graham Jeffs 7th Dec '18 - 10:09am

    Nick Collins “I am not a LibDem member”

    Your concern is so touching.

  • David Allen 7th Dec '18 - 10:45am

    What a terrible dilemma. You are fighting a knife-edge election which you lost by a whisker last time. Every vote counts. Then someone does a local poll, and it shows that all you have to do to gain the crucial swing votes is to abandon your principles on one key issue. Let’s suppose you could do it by coming out in favour of public hanging. Would that be a brilliant way to get one more Lib Dem MP elected? No? Well, what about abandoning your own beliefs on Brexit, then, and pledging to take the Tory Whip on that subject. Would that be any better?

    People whose behaviour brings a party into disrepute don’t strengthen it. They weaken it.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Dec '18 - 12:53pm

    “Electorally suicidal” to break the promise? It seems to me that Mr Lloyd signed his political death warrant when he made the promise at the last election. Either way, he’s stuffed. Remain voters won’t like his voting for Brexit, and won’t care if it’s to keep a promise. Leave voters may prefer to vote for someone who actually believes in Brexit.
    When Zac Goldsmith resigned his seat over the Heathrow Third Runway, some people here were saying he’d easily win the by-election because voters would admire him for keeping his word and being “principled”. That didn’t happen, and it just shows that keeping a promise is not a guaranteed election winner. Making the promise was the mistake.

    Regarding the deal to stand aside for Barnes and Cartwright in 1992, there was actually a quid pro quo to that, namely that the so-called “continuing SDP” would not stand against us in the Vauxhall by-election or in Bermondsey against Simon Hughes. As it turned out the SDP was not in a position to renege on the deal in 1992, but the point is it wasn’t a unilateral decision. I don’t think unilaterally deciding not to stand against an “Independent Liberal Democrat” candidate would be at all helpful to us. It would not be popular locally, considering that the LibDem-run Council is calling for a People’s Vote.
    As for him standing down and fighting a by-election, that would be a very risky move, and not necessarily one that the voters of Eastbourne would take kindly to. And if we were to stand aside for him, then it would win the Haltemprice & Howden Award for pointless by-elections.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Dec '18 - 1:14pm

    This resignation of the whip makes no sense.

    There is so much in the way of by far more divided feeling on this issue in the Conservative party, also , though not strong, in the Labour party. In this party even the tepid pro EU Remain, like me, Norman Lamb, an example in parliament, they realise this deal is lousy.

    Stephen must be allowed to be different. By all accounts to allow no conscience vote, means, no liberal approach. But he could just say, I shall not thwart the vote of the people, thus I offer a …vote to the people…

  • I concur with David Raw and others who have criticised Stephen Lloyd’s disastrous lack of political nous in foolishly giving an unconditional election pledge, which he should have been dissuaded from at the time, to support Tory Brexit policy, come what may. In so doing, he has surrendered his own judgement (such as it is) and boxed himself into a corner – and, unfortunately, must therefore now follow this through … by using his vote to effectively give Mrs May a blank cheque. For as long as this unsatisfactory position continues, he clearly cannot credibly re-apply for the Lib Dem Whip.

  • Alex Macfie, I believe that if a Liberal Democrat feels strongly about a particular party position then they should have the freedom to vote as they wish. This has to be weighed against following the agreed position. Therefore some conditions have to be applied to this. One of these is making the opposition clear when being selected. One of the questions which should always be asked of a PPC candidate is what party policies do you disagree with and would be unable to support or would vote against. It should not be the role of the approval process to discover this, it should take place during selection i.e at the lowest level.

    I think Stephen Lloyd in this case should not have made his promises, but once he made them, then he has to keep them.

    I think you don’t understand the difference between a representative and a delegate. If I promise to vote a certain way then I am still using my judgement and am a representative. If however I promise to survey my electorate on every issue and vote in the way of the majority then I would be a delegate.

  • nvelope2003 7th Dec '18 - 3:00pm

    I wonder what the voters will think of this. Maybe they will be unable to cope with the sight of an MP actually keeping his promise, however misguided, and support for the party might actually increase. He might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but that description applies to most people. It does no harm to have some MPs who are a bit like those they claim to represent.

    What strikes me about those voters who want to leave the EU is that it has little to do with that but a sense of being shut out from the economic benefits they have been told they have a right to expect and that a certain group of people are getting it all. They have lost the chance they or their children might go to the grammar school but see the proponents of comprehensive schools send their own children to independent schools which have the benefits of charitable status. No wonder they do not vote for a party which accepts this and many of whose members benefit from it and even complain they are having a struggle to pay the school fees.

  • Gerald Francis 7th Dec '18 - 3:24pm

    I am sorry that Stephen Lloyd has resigned the Liberal Democrat Whip, however he must be allowed to make his own decision. Personally I think it is healthy that we can no longer be considered a party of extreme remainers. I think one of the reasons we have not made headway in national opinion polls is because Labour and the Tories have significant MPs on both sides of the divide.
    It is us that lack diversity on this issue.

  • Peter Watson 7th Dec '18 - 3:31pm

    From the outside (and not knowing Eastbourne or Stephen Lloyd!) it looks like Stephen Lloyd is doing the right thing given the situation he is in now.
    Arguably it was a mistake to make the promise in 2017, and for that he, Tim Farron and the rest of the 2017 campaign team are equally culpable. Resigning the Lib Dem whip draws attention to the party line on Brexit and makes it clear that he is diverging from it, so I don’t think it undermines the party.
    Eastbourne has elected an MP who shares Lib Dem principles (albeit with the caveats pointed out regularly by David Raw!) but in this case, for his voters, he appears to have compromised on one that is important to himself and the party.
    The alternative would probably have been one less Lib Dem MP (though perhaps the resulting higher proportion of female Lib Dem MPs would have been celebrated!) and an additional Brexit-supporting Tory MP, so I am not convinced that the party or the country is any worse off because of what Stephen Lloyd is doing.

  • Neil Sandison 7th Dec '18 - 4:32pm

    there are a number of MPs both Labour and Conservative who sit as independents .MPs are elected representatives not sheep and can express a view that may differ from their groups position .Tuesdays vote should be a free vote because there is no settled majority view in parliament indeed talking to my conservative MP he will tow the line but is hoping a second vote in 21 days will get him off the hook . Stephen Lloyd may return to the whip at a later date but compared to the warfare in other parties on this issue one malcontent is of little consequence in the larger Brexit game.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Dec '18 - 6:27pm

    Nick Clegg made him the spokesman for Northern Ireland, with regretfully few results.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Dec '18 - 7:32pm

    At least he didn’t threaten to starve Southern Ireland into submission like Priti Patel just did.

  • David Warren 7th Dec '18 - 7:35pm


    I think that was her opening shot in a bid to be next leader of the Tory party.

  • I don’t know where she got her facts; Ireland runs a food surplus.
    I looked up the official government list of UK exports to Ireland and, apart from 3.3% of Ireland’s cereal needs there was no mention of any agricultural exports from the UK to Ireland.*
    However, Ireland is the second (next to Holland) biggest supplier of UK foodstuffs (over 11% of the UK’s meat products, dairy, eggs, etc. comes from Eire)

    It looks to me that the ‘famine’ would be the other way around this time.

    UK goods exports to Ireland, 2017…£ millions… % of total
    Petroleum, petroleum products 1,440 7.4%
    Miscellaneous manufactured articles 1,345 6.9%
    Medicinal & pharmaceutical products 1,308 6.7%
    Essential oils & perfume materials; toilet preps 935 4.8%
    Articles of apparel & clothing accessories 924 4.7%
    Road vehicles 848 4.4%
    Electrical machinery & appliances 746 3.8%
    Cereals & cereal preparations 634 3.3%
    Telecomms & sound recording equipment 620 3.2%
    Office machines & adp machines 613 3.1%
    Source: HMRC, UK Trade Info

    If Patel was talking about deliberately delaying ‘thru’ EU/Ireland trade then I’d imagine that the EU would react in rather a rather draconian manner. How long would the UK, that imports around 60% of it’s food, last if the the EU stopped foodstuffs at Calais? We no longer have a merchant fleet large enough to even manage the chlorinated Trump chickens.

  • Richard Fagence 7th Dec '18 - 8:06pm

    I have known Stephen for at least twenty-five years, ever since he became Chair of the Maidenhead (!) local party. When he was selected as PPC for Beaconsfield in 2001, I recall asking him how he felt about becoming PM in 2015. (Tony Blair was the Labour PPC for Beaconsfield in 1983 and became PM in 1997). I regard myself as his friend and would hope that he would say the same about me.

    But I happen to think that his recent actions are mistaken. I don’t see how creating a hostage to fortune by promising to support May’s plans before all the details are known is helpful. With evidence that his constituency’s views are now changing – along with many others – his timing is suspect. I hope he will re-join us soon – we need talented people like him.

  • I am a little surprised that there are any Labour or Conservative Parliamentary parties left on this basis as all their backbenchers seem to disagree with their party leadership’s position on Brexit!

  • Priti Patel’s comments were an absolute disgrace. The arrogance underlying many Tories’ attitude towards Ireland is not far beneath the surface.

  • nvelope2003 8th Dec '18 - 9:41am

    The Conservatives cannot get over the fact that they lost Ireland because they refused to grant Home Rule before 1914 and are desperate to hang on to Northern Ireland. They may be mistaken in supposing that this is supported by the majority of the British people.

    We should be careful about holding another EU referendum as a different result could cause the sort of rioting that is happening in France. The established parties, especially parties like the Liberal Democrats, are held responsible for many of the problems people are experiencing and they will not recover unless leaving the EU turns out to be a disaster. After the defeat of France in the war with Prussia in 1870 the National Assembly had a huge majority of Royalists as the Bonapartists and Republicans were held responsible for the catastrophe but in 1875 France became a republic by a majority of one vote because of differences among the royalists and the determination of the republicans. The people here elected a House of Commons with a huge majority of Remainers in 2017 but they are not as resolute as the Leavers who are utterly determined to get their way whatever the cost to the nation as they expect to make huge fortunes out of leaving because of the watering down of employment protection.

    There might be a

  • Richard Underhill 9th Dec '18 - 11:56am

    Eastbourne’s former MP Caroline Ansell appears to want his job. It therefore seems unlikely that he could stand for Eastbourne as a Conservative.
    He cares greatly about business and jobs in Eastbourne and was vigorous in campaigning for apprenticeships in Eastbourne, with factual results, and in the Liberal Democrats, for instance at federal conference.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Dec '18 - 12:07pm

    Eurosceptic journalist Ian Dale said on the Politics Show southeast on 9/12/2018 that perhaps Stephen Lloyd was being clever and that it would work to his advantage.
    Ian Dale stood as a Tory against Norman Lamb and was defeated heavily. He claims that Norman Lamb is a bit of a Eurosceptic but that Norman Lamb has not said so recently.
    I watch a lot of pollical media. It seems to me that Ian Dale is overexposed. In particular the BBC should use him less often.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Dec '18 - 12:27pm

    Nick Collins 7th Dec ’18 – 9:55am
    Were Lib Dem activists from less winnable seats encouraged to go to Eastbourne, last year, to help Stephen Lloyd get elected?
    No, but I urged the regional executive to give £5,000 to the Eastbourne bye-election and informed Cowley Street accordingly. I campaigned in the winning bye-election (agent Paul Jacobs). I became a member of the local party and donated £500 in 1992 to David Bellotti’s losing general election campaign. He moved to Bath and became a councillor, in power, with a seven figure budget. I went to Eastbourne in 2010. A bus arrived in Liberal Democrat gold portraying deputy leader Vince Cable with a haircut. We stood on the beach and were addressed by Nick Clegg and were then urged to deliver leaflets about the local hospital.
    The constituency where I currently live is safer for the Tories than Eastbourne eve was, Lib Dems second, Labour third, nearest target seat Maidstone.

  • Alex Macfie 13th Dec '18 - 6:54am


    “We should be careful about holding another EU referendum as a different result could cause the sort of rioting that is happening in France.”

    The UK isn’t France. And besides if it did happen then the people responsible for the rioting would be principally EDL types who need to be faced down, not appeased. Have we learnt nothing from the 1930s?

  • Richard Underhill. 30th Oct '19 - 9:06am

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