Tim on telly – the highlights

Tim Farron is fast becoming the grown-up in the room in British politics. He speaks for many, across the Remain/Leave divide and is the strongest voice of opposition to Theresa May’s government – and Jeremy Corbyn’s sorry excuse for an opposition. In fact, we should stop referring to Labour as the opposition while they enable the worst government in my lifetime to wreak havoc on our economy and future prosperity.

Tim has been doing the media rounds this morning. He’s been interviewed by Andrew Marr and Sophy Ridge.

Now is the time for him to be in the form of his life – and he was. He answered the questions clearly and put our point of view very well. It helps when he is actually in the room rather than down the line, even if we miss out on the gorgeous Cumbrian scenery. Here are some of the highlights courtesy of the various Twitter feeds. You can see the whole Marr interview here from around 50 minutes in and you can read the transcript of the Sophy Ridge interview here on the Sky media website.

His argument for a referendum on the deal is very clear and cogent.

Well I would say that democracy also does most definitely mean that you keep going, if you lose you keep fighting for what you believe in but I’m going to be really pedantic and pull you up. It’s not a second referendum, the referendum that we had in June gives the government a mandate to go and negotiate departure from the European Union, what I’d argue is that at the end a deal will be arrived at by Theresa May and it is simply a question as to who signs it off, who gives the final stamp of approval – is it Theresa May herself, is it the government, is it parliament or is it the British people? And if you believe like us that it should be the British people then the only way to end this in a democratic way and to achieve closure is to allow there to be a referendum on the terms of the deal at the end.

SR: You could argue that there were a lot of people in Richmond Park who didn’t like the result of that by-election that the Lib Dems won, are they going to get another vote on that?

TIM FARRON: Yes, it’s called democracy, there’s a general election in three or four years’ time so yes, of course they are and the idea that you somehow go away and cower under a rock and have to pretend you don’t think what you think just because you lost an election is a nonsense, is an affront to anybody who supports democracy but this is a specific issue. We are very clear that the referendum that narrowly gave a majority for leave in June absolutely gives Theresa May a mandate to go and negotiate departure from the European Union but what it doesn’t do is give her a mandate to make the extreme choice that she has done. She seems to have assumed that the 52% of people who voted leave, many of whom I know, some of whom I’m related to and who I’ve got an awful lot of time for, she assumes that those 52% of people all agreed with Nigel Farage. That is an insult to the massive majority of those people, it is the theft of democracy.

He went on to highlight the confusing statements made by the Leave campaign on the single market. It wasn’t so clear cut as some media make out. I am reading Tim Shipman’s book on the referendum campaign and he highlights that it was a deliberate strategy by leave to obfuscate.

All in all, a very good morning’s work by Tim.

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

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  • I agree that Tim did very well indeed and that it was better with him being in the studio. However, those of us with long memories will remember just how well Jeremy Thorpe did ‘down the line’ from Barnstaple in February 1974. (He spent much of the campaign in North Devon defending a majority of around three hundred if I remember correctly.) Being ‘down the line’ set Jeremy apart from the London studio based Tory-Labour spat and made him seem to be above the two-party party bickering.

  • Question for any who know the answer.
    When Tim argues for a referendum on the deal and states that remain in the E.U. should be an option, does he mean remain whilst the government continues to negotiate terms on leaving or does he mean that remain would be the end in itself. If he means the latter, has he said whether he thinks it should be advisory or mandatory? Has he indicated whether there should be a minimum turn out or winning margin, all issues that are now debated re the validity of the June 23 vote. If remain won would by a small margin would there be support for another referendum or would the matter then be considered to be resolved? Surely at some point this will have to stop, at least for a while, if only to give clarity to business and the public. Either way a large percentage of the population will end up disappointed and quite possibly very angry.

  • What he doesn’t say is what happens if the people vote against the terms of the deal in the referendum. It would leave the UK in an even worse position, having to go back to try to negotiate a better deal when it’s not on offer – prolonged uncertainty, damage to the UK economy etc etc. What does he say should happen then?

    And if the people accept the deal? Then it rather goes against what the Lib Dems have been saying all the time, that somehow the voters would “come to their senses” and see how wonderful being part of the EU was after all. I rather suspect he is betting there will be no deal for there to be a vote on, because either way it would turn out badly for the Lib Des.

    Meanwhile, there is precious little sign of any significant upturn in national voting intentions for the party – perhaps because of the party’s stance on Europe. It might appeal to most of the (already diminished) 2015 voter base, but it’s a right turn-off even for around 30% of them.

  • Leekliberal 29th Jan '17 - 6:20pm

    RC says ‘What he (Tim Farron) doesn’t say is what happens if the people vote against the terms of the deal in the referendum. It would leave the UK in an even worse position, having to go back to try to negotiate a better deal when it’s not on offer – prolonged uncertainty, damage to the UK economy etc etc. What does he say should happen then?
    No! it would be the better alternative to remain in the EU which I believe would accept the need to reform to accommodate what is dissatisfaction with it’s failure to deal with the genuine concerns of the ‘left behinds’.

  • nvelope2003 29th Jan '17 - 7:38pm

    A recent opinion poll (UK Polling Report) gave the Liberal Democrats 20% in London and 22% for Labour.

  • gremalkincat 29th Jan '17 - 8:25pm

    Can you provide a link to this poll? I can’t see it on UK Polling Report website…

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '17 - 9:34pm

    The most recent Yougov poll referred to on UK Polling Report (19 Jan https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/xalfiwu0ed/TimesResults_170118_VI_Trackers_MaySpeech_W.pdf) has a regional breakdown for voting intention which, for London, has Labour on 35% and the Lib Dems on 11% (Conservatives 41% and UKIP 7%)
    However, a more recent Yougov poll (25 Jan https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/bfe1jtcki8/TimesResults_170124_VI_Trackers_W.pdf) reports 22% for Labour and 20% for Lib Dems in London (Conservative 42%, UKIP 11%). However, compared to the earlier one, this poll also shows worse support for Lib Dems everywhere else in the country and a slightly lower overall national figure (10% vs. 11%).

  • Andrew McCaig 29th Jan '17 - 9:44pm

    That “poll” is the small subsample in the last YouGov poll from London. It is 150 voters or so, so has a high margin of error anyway. But also the sample is adjusted for demographics and then for likelihood to vote etc on the basis of the whole sample, not the London bit, and this can introduce additional large errors.
    The previous YouGov poll did not show anything like that, but had similar overall figures, so I would not attach any significance to that London “result”

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '17 - 10:02pm

    @Martin “I think we should take most reports of opinions with a grain of salt. There seem to be too many fudge factors.”
    @Andrew McCaig “the sample is adjusted for demographics and then for likelihood to vote etc on the basis of the whole sample, not the London bit, and this can introduce additional large errors.”
    Totally agree. The process of producing a result from the raw polling data always looks like a mystical reading of runes.

  • Peter Watson 29th Jan '17 - 10:14pm

    On the topic of interesting polling data, this current ICM survey (https://www.icmunlimited.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017_guardian_jan_poll2.pdf) suggests that 33% of those declaring as Lib Dem voters would like to see the UK leaving the EU regardless of negotiations (with 21% wanting Parliament to decide and 40% wanting a second referendum). This compares with 24% who voted for Brexit which (if accurate) would suggest a swing in the opposite direction of party policy. Based on small numbers, but food for thought.
    Though, given all of the surprises since May 2015, perhaps all that we can learn from political polling is that we can learn nothing from political polling!

  • Tim comes over much better when he’s in the studio rather than in a Cumbrian field.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Jan '17 - 11:21pm

    Very good interviews and we can see Tim in such context , able to speak well , relaxed, sharp. He is a good two minute man, but an even better twenty minute one !

    I think we should worry less about whether the detail of any referendum has this question or that, and concentrate o the fact, that it is not a second referendum, but a first on the deal.

  • Thanks for your response R.C. Can anyone add any further clarification to the question I
    in my last post, this thread?

  • Lorenzo, given that he and others have done so, I think we should,especially as many are still debating the terms of reference of June 23. Lets get this resolved either way and then recognise and address the concerns of those who might feel they have lost something of value or those who think they have lost an opportunity.Either way we need a resolution which leaves as few people as possible feeling that they have been stitched up or had democracy stolen from them.

  • Yes, Tim Farron at his best. I have long since forgiven Nick Clegg and it is great to hear him bring his formidable knowledge in as well to this fight to save the UK from calamity.

  • Little Jackie Paper 30th Jan '17 - 9:04am

    LeekLiberal – ‘it would be the better alternative to remain in the EU which I believe would accept the need to reform to accommodate what is dissatisfaction with it’s failure to deal with the genuine concerns of the ‘left behinds’.’

    Really? Out of interest what accommodations do you think the EU would make? Serious question, not getting at you here. Just that is most certainly not my reading of things.

  • Little Jackie Paper 30th Jan '17 - 9:20am

    Tynan – On your earlier question. I’ve taken it as meaning a referendum on an actual concluded proposal. So presumably that means negotiations followed by something put to a referendum. This said it is not clear to me exactly what he wants from the A50 negotiations. I certainly struggle to see how a referendum could be held on the basis of no formal proposal and I’m not clear how it fits in with the two-year A50 timeframe.

    It seems to me to hinge on whether or not an A50 notice can be revoked. I’ve not seen anything definitive – although there is a good discussion here https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2016/10/17/aurel-sari-biting-the-bullet-why-the-uk-is-free-to-revoke-its-withdrawal-notification-under-article-50-teu/.

    It does however appear that Tim Farron takes the view that A50 can be revoked – see

    ‘After meeting Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels, Mr Farron said: “We discussed whether Article 50 can be revoked, and my conclusion is that if there is the political will, it would be possible to do so.”‘ [Note it’s not clear if Verhofstadt shares that view].

    As to your other points, I am not really in favour of a referendum on the exit terms because all any second referendum will do is open the door to referendum 3, 4 and so on. A neverendum is the worst of all worlds.

  • Little Jackie Paper 30th Jan '17 - 9:24am

    Peter Watson/Andrew McCaig – Individual polls don’t tell us very much, what really matters is trends. They matter greatly.

    The much-criticised polling did accurately capture trends towards the Conservatives at the 2015 election, towards leaving the EU and towards Trump.

    Of course unless someone revokes the Fixed Term Parliaments Act there’s not a lot of meaning in them for now.

  • Peter Watson 30th Jan '17 - 10:52am

    @Little Jackie Paper “Individual polls don’t tell us very much”
    Spoilsport 😉

  • My question is: is there any ‘deal’ which Farron & co would ever find acceptable, or are they committed to, if they get this second referendum, campaigning in the EU no matter what other deal is on offer?

    If no, how is this ‘it’s a referendum on the deal not a re-run of the Leave referendum’ line not in complete bad faith?

    Surely if they have pre-committed themselves to campaigning for ‘remain’ whatever the deal then it can’t be, for them a referendum about the contents of the deal at all because the contents of the deal are irrelevant, to them, to how they will campaign.

    And if the deal doesn’t matter then it clearly is, for them, simply an attempt to have another shot at getting a ‘Remain’ vote.

    And so an attempt to re-run the referendum.

    Isn’t it?

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