The Mail on Sunday and Nigel Farage in one day? Vince takes the fight to the right

I certainly didn’t think I’d ever be embedding Nigel Farage’s LBC show on this site, but the first 20 minutes of today’s is well worth watching because our Vince is on there.

You can’t accuse him of sticking to echo chambers, that’s for sure.

He even agreed with him about Friday’s deal. Farage has been complaining that it’s not brexity enough and Vince certainly said that it looked like it could be a formula to put of leaving pretty much for ever. We know that the Tory Brexiteers are starting to wail now that they’ve read the small print and Vince managed to wind them up without looking like he was enjoying it too much.

He cited Michael Gove very quickly putting the knife in and said that Brexiteers are preparing for the next round of the battle.

The conversation then turned to Labour. Vince called Farage kind and charitable for saying the Opposition was confused. He said that they had got away with murder. Corbyn and Co think the EU is a wicked capitalist club and they want nothing to do with it. However, people, particularly young people, voted for them because they thought they were pro-EU or at least not realising that they weren’t.

This week’s Lib Dem amendment to the European Withdrawal Bill, he said, will flush out Labour’s true intentions. If Labour vote against, we will know where they stand.

Farage asked if we were trying to reverse Brexit. Vince was pretty open, saying that as a party we think we should stay in the EU. We accept the referendum happened and we want a public vote at the end of the negotiations which he described as a vote on the facts of Brexit. He then trolled Nigel a bit, saying:

I would have thought that given your faith in the public voice on that you would come along with us on that.

Discussion turned to the future trade deals both with the EU and the rest of the world. This was one of the strongest bits of the conversation as Vince set out the options and likely outcomes.

He said that the best deal is one we have at the moment. Given the choice of a Norwegian type arrangement and being out altogether the former is better but with that you have all the problems of the current system but with no say to do anything about them.

He then looked at our new found freedom to scour the world in search of trade deals of our own.

What are these trade deals we are going to negotiate? We have a US President who is unreliable and believes in economic nationalism which is the opposite of open, liberal trade arrangements. You have India which is saying we’ll have a trade deal but you have to accept more visas. The whole idea of signing up lots of trade deals is just a fantasy.

He pointed out that the Chinese have given themselves maximum access to Swiss markets and have given the Swiss virtually nothing in return.

The interview ended with Farage pointing out that Vince wasn’t even an MP this time last year. Vince said that being back and leading the party gave him “shorter nights, earlier mornings hard work and lots of grief.”

He added that politics was worth it all – as long as you think you are doing something good you can’t let go of it.

That wasn’t Vince’s only venture on to the territory of the Brexit loving right wing. He used his regular column in the Mail on Sunday to talk up the discord in the Cabinet. He was also pretty complimentary about Theresa May which is surprising given that he probably had more rows with her when he was Business Secretary (over students and post study work visas) than he had with George Osborne.

Here’s a snapshot:

Like the ideological zealots on the far Left, those on the Brexit Right see revolutionary disorder as an opportunity. But Theresa May, for all her failings – not least her terrible strategic error in unnecessarily committing herself to leaving the single market and customs union – is an old fashioned conservative who looks for pragmatic solutions in the interests of stability. Belatedly, she seems to have realised the dangers of being a ‘useful fool’ for her enemies.

It would be a mistake, then, to see Michael Gove in isolation. He probably speaks for the modern Conservative Party, which has been infiltrated by Ukip supporters in the same way that Labour has been by Momentum.

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • That LBC interview is Vince at his best. Lucid, knowledgeable, human. There are drawbacks: it’s a style that is not always going to win headlines. But anyone who listened to this interview will be clear where the LibDems stand and will know that our leader is a man of intelligence and principle. The interesting thing is that Farage actually comes across as a (relatively) normal and pleasant human being. It’s maybe a matter of association.

  • Chris Bertram 10th Dec '17 - 10:00pm

    All good, but while the Mail on Sunday may be right wing, it came out for remain in the referendum, and editor Geordie Greig is not thought to have changed his mind on that. The daily paper, led by Paul Dacre shouts for Brexit, but Greig and Dacre hate each others guts. This one will run and run.

  • OnceALibDem 11th Dec '17 - 9:08am

    If there is to be a successful campaign for a second referendum (ie to get the vote) it will probably need the support of some heavily leave elements. So the fact that this happened is as interesting as what is said

  • Peter Hirst 11th Dec '17 - 3:08pm

    He does articulate our view eloquently. Nigel Farage is moving the debate onto what sort of EU we would be remaining in. That would be one of the issues in another referendum. We must push the moderate approach.

  • Great stuff, hand to hand fighting with the enemy, yet without too much bad feeling by the sound of it. I still think “Strong and Cable Government” is an excellent slogan despite it narrowly missing getting onto T-shirts.

  • Yeovil Yokel 11th Dec '17 - 9:09pm

    Vince did well. Like John Humphrys on the Today programme Farage loves the sound of his own voice and cannot allow his interviewee to talk for too long before interrupting them and ruining the thread of their argument.

  • I agree Vince did very well. I liked the fact he made it clear to that listeners that Lib Dems definitely DO NOT want to be in the Eurozone but ideally have EU membership like Denmark & Sweden. (I know this is pretty much what we currently have but good to use examples of other sensible countries choices). If Brexit materialises then the Norway option is the next best option.

  • Peter Watson 12th Dec '17 - 12:20am

    @Mike Read “I liked the fact he made it clear to that listeners that Lib Dems definitely DO NOT want to be in the Eurozone”
    When did the Lib Dem position on the Eurozone change?
    I don’t think the euro was mentioned in 2015 or 2017, but the 2010 Lib Dem manifesto said, “We believe that it is in Britain’s long-term interest to be part of the euro. But Britain should only join when the economic conditions are right, and in the present economic situation, they are not. Britain should join the euro only if that decision were supported by the people of Britain in a referendum”.
    In recent years I thought the party might be just downplaying or de-prioritising the policy, but was there a conference vote to decide that “Lib Dems definitely DO NOT want to be in the Eurozone”?

  • Nom de Plume 12th Dec '17 - 4:46pm

    Joining the Eurozone, would only be an issue on rejoining the EU. Any talk of joining/ not joining is, as things stand, complete speculation. The Eurozone may be different in a few years time. The issue needs to be completely sidelined.

    On rejoining the EU, it is likely that a formal agreement to joining the euro will be are required. In practice, it seems to be possible to defer for as long as you want. Speculation does not help and could simply result in future policy contradicting present policy. Not under discussion.

  • Peter Watson 12th Dec '17 - 5:18pm

    @Nom de Plume “Joining the Eurozone, would only be an issue on rejoining the EU. Any talk of joining/ not joining is, as things stand, complete speculation.”
    I disagree to some extent.
    The Lib Dem number one priority is very much about remaining in the EU. Being clear about whether or not that still involves an aspiration to join the euro is important.
    Brexiters are justifiably criticised for having confused and contradictory views about what sort of Brexit they want, but it is just as important for Lib Dems to be clear about what sort of Remain they want and to communicate that vision.

  • Nom de Plume 12th Dec '17 - 6:06pm

    @Peter Watson

    Reversing Article50 (if possible) would allow the status quo to remain: no commitment to join the euro. This is the short term solution. The best and least likely solution. Rejoining in the future (a number of years) would be under different conditions and there is no need or sense trying to make predictions. It is possible (although unlikely) that it will be possible to rejoin without the euro, or maybe it would make sense to recommend joining the euro. Speculation. I speak for myself, of course.

  • Nom de Plume 12th Dec '17 - 6:15pm

    I support the principle of staying in the EU, but would be wary of commenting on the nature of any future agreement. Too much is unknown.

  • Peter, I agree with your last post. Lib Dems should define prefered type of EU membership. Eurozone membership not necessary & not desired in my opinion. Swedes & Danes agree and will I believe always keep their currencies.

  • Nom de Plume 12th Dec '17 - 7:39pm

    @Mike Read

    Under the Treaty of Maastricht, Sweden is committed to joining the euro. Even if it does never join. By refusing at this point you needlessly close down one option. It is likely to be a reentry requirement, unless they try to renegotiate their opt-outs. The EU might not be so obliging next time: in,out and in again is not good. Commitment is required. Denmark has an opt-out. Also,it is also not possible to tell what the euro will be like in a few years. It will need to reform.

  • What a shame Vincent wasn’t there to challenge the other rubbish about making our own laws, we already do, sovereignty, we already are as are all the other EU member states, controlling our own borders when the government cut back on patrol boats nothing to do with the EU etc.

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