Vince: Dear Jeremy, Stop supporting Tory Brexit and give the people a say

Vince Cable has written to Jeremy Corbyn to ask him to put the Labour party in line with its own supporters and support a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Here is the text n full:

Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of HM Opposition
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

2nd February 2018

Dear Jeremy,

I am writing to you about Brexit, because I was dismayed by your interview with Andrew Marr last Sunday, when you reiterated your personal objection to letting the British people have their say on the Conservatives’ Brexit deal.

There is now significant momentum behind demands for the people to have the final say. Repeated polls show a substantial majority of people are in favour of a public vote. The most recent ICM survey showed a 16-point lead in favour.

Moreover, the vast majority of your own supporters want this referendum – 78% according to an authoritative study by Queen Mary University, London. We know most of your Parliamentary party feel similarly. Surely it is time for Labour to join the campaign rather than continue to support Theresa May’s pursuit of a damaging hard Brexit.

As the leak of the Department for Exiting the European Union’s impact assessment shows, there is no form of Brexit that will see British workers and their families better off than if we remain within the EU.

You will have noted that Yanis Varoufakis – among many others from your own democratic socialist tradition – endorsing a similar conclusion this week, with strong support for the Single Market.

You have energised young people to get engaged in politics, which is a significant achievement. But with three quarters of young people under the age of 25 opposed to leaving the EU, they will be left disillusioned if you do not help the fight to secure them the option of an exit from Brexit.

I appreciate we have our political differences, but we do have common cause in fighting this incompetent Conservative government and we do vote together most of the time. There should be no dividing lines between progressive parties on the EU.

With your support, we would comfortably win an amendment for a referendum in the House of Lords and would need only a handful of Conservative rebels to repeat that victory in the Commons.

If it would be helpful to meet to discuss this issue, I will make myself available at the earliest opportunity.

Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Feb '18 - 1:38pm

    This is a good letter.

    Two bits of advice, avoid use of the word momentum , and preceding it with the other word, significant.

    Significant momentum, could be a description of the significance of Momentum, an odd thing considering it has thirty five thousand members and has contributed to pushing the Labour party farther left, we have over a hundred thousand and could be a far more significant force than we are if we , unlike this particular letter which is ok, talked about more than Brexit, and articulated a real alternative to state socialism and chronic conservatism.

  • I saw it argued on here so many times after the last referendum that Exiting the EU was such a vast complex decision to make, that the majority of the electorate just simply were not educated enough to make such an important decision and this sort of thing should be left to the professional and our elected representatives in our representative democracy.

    What has changed?

    If people were not educated enough to come to an informed decision last time, what has changed in 18 months? or, is it a case that as long as they vote to remain, they are competent enough to come to the right decision

  • nvelope2003 4th Feb '18 - 3:18pm

    Matt: Nothing has changed but you cannot change the result of a referendum held less than 2 years ago until such time as the voters have either been persuaded to do so by argument and discussion or because the electorate has changed significantly which it will do inevitably with the passage of time. In any case Vince Cable seems to be talking about a referendum on the terms for leaving the EU, not the principle itself.
    Apart from all that we are a parliamentary representative democracy where laws are debated and passed by an elected House of Commons not the unelected House of Lords which has only an advisory role.

  • @nvelope2003

    Thanks for your response nvelope

    I was just curious how some people who made the argument that the electorate simply were not capable of making such a momentous decision last time round because they did not have the time to educate themselves on the complexities and the enormity of leaving the EU last time round, that referendums are a bad thing and we should leave it to the professionals and the elected representatives. How are they going to square that circle?

  • Red Liberal 4th Feb '18 - 4:01pm

    @matt do you know care about the families that could be forcibly split apart by Brexit? The jobs lost and careers ruined? The recession and austerity which will make the 2009 fall-out seem trivial?

  • @Red Liberal

    Do you care about the families forced apart because of the EU?

    Do you actually think that all the young men and women leaving their home countries,
    their friends, familes and communities (Greece for example) are doing so because they have this huge desire to come and work in our factories and our fields, or is it because the EU has been such a failure, their economies are on the brink, with Germany making it worse, things are so destitute for them in their home countries they have no option but to abandon their home lands and seek work abroad.
    Sorry, I see nothing wonderful about the great Ideological EU project that is a failure to so many young Europeans.
    So please do not try to imply that i do not care about families being split up. I care a great deal and it is one of my driving forces for voting leave

  • nvelope2003 4th Feb '18 - 4:29pm

    Matt: Some people hold those opinions as others hold different opinions. They do not need to justify themselves as that is their view. One might reasonably expect that highly educated elected MPs and peers would have the time and resources to fully study the implications whereas those who are working might have limited time and resources to do so but even the most assiduous people can make mistakes and often do, sometimes because they have obsessions but not always.

    The idea of the UK as a fully sovereign state which can do as it pleases whenever it pleases is not realistic when we are smaller than many states of the USA or provinces of China and Russia. We could not fully be that even at the height of our power before the First World War because there were other nations who were either equal on their own or in combination with allies.

    In 1931 we had to abandon the policy of free trade which the Liberals had advocated in alliance with the Conservative supporters of Sir Robert Peel since 1846 and had been accepted for the most part by all political parties but faced with ruin and 3 million unemployed plus the major industries collapsing and farming in ruins many people felt it could no longer be sustained. The supporters of a full break with the EU advocate Free Trade with the world – what has changed which would make that a feasible position ? A few cheap shoes and slightly cheaper food produced under less scrupulous conditions will not compensate for the collapse of our industries and agriculture and a complete reliance on foreign goods which the Brexiteers such as Professor Minford seem to accept as a price worth paying. Well I do not.

  • I agree with Lorenzo that this is a good letter, and reflects the balanced, sensible approach we are taking to this issue. I do fear that the “Ultras” of the left and right are coming to dominate the discourse in both the Labour and Conservative Parties now, so it might need a move by a sizable faction of sensible influential politicians in either one, or both of these parties to a sensible party (i.e. the Liberal Democrats), to effect the change in direction the country most definitely needs! The sooner the better!

  • Peter Martin 4th Feb '18 - 6:48pm

    I notice that Yanis Varoufakis is starting to mentioned with approval recently. Yet, when he was in conflict with the EU, and the not-so-democratically appointed leaders of same, ie Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schauble, and Jeroen Dijsselbloem he wasn’t much mentioned in polite company.

    He’s always been very much in favour of the EU, though, even though he much better informed of its deficiencies that most of even the most ardent of Brexiteers. He’s always been optimistic that the EU is capable of reform. I hope he turns out to be right but I doubt he will be. If his campaign ever starts to gain traction he be back on the naughty step and back to being a non -person.

  • Good letter that won’t do any good. Corbyn never wanted to remain, avoided his own parties remain team, and has no intention of seeing anything other than a hard Brexit to enable him to carry out his plans…

  • nvelope2003 4th Feb '18 - 8:05pm

    Matt: Greece is a disaster and should never have been allowed to join the Euro but it has been ruled by largely corrupt politicians since it obtained independence from the Ottoman Sultan. Vast sums of money were doled out for votes and the public sector was run as a sort of outdoor relief for the middle classes while they ran their own private businesses. Growing food was either abandoned or done by Bulgarians. Now they have to do it themselves. Unfortunately those who really suffer in all this are the genuine poor and the elderly and the tax avoiders have as usual got away with it.

    Greeks have been leaving Greece for decades if not centuries as the country cannot sustain a big population because it has limited resources. Why do you think there were all those Greek colonies in Sicily and dotted around the Mediterranean.’

    Why should the Germans be criticised for running their country efficiently? Perhaps we should have tried it instead of the endless carping.

  • nvelope

    Greece was just once example i could have given out of many.

    Europe has hardly done much for the Youth of Spain, Italy and all the other countries where high youth unemployment is astronomical.

    There are a lot of things to criticise Germany for, especially when it is them pulling the most strings in the EU. It is Germany forcing austerity on countries that are crippling them and preventing them from getting out of the hole they are in.
    It is Germany running these huge surpluses, to the detriment of other countries.
    It is Germany who were the main cause of the mass of economic migrants that we saw coming from the middle east and Africa, because Germany wants the mass influx of migrants to keep driving down wages and of course because there ageing population which are saving like crazy and sitting on nice little pension pots. Of course, Germany cares nothing for the Migrants they dont wan’t, who they hope will make there way to other Eu Countries and become their problem.
    There is a lot to criticise Germany for

  • Arnold Kiel 4th Feb '18 - 8:53pm

    thank you, nvelope2003. Spain and Portugal are showing the way: a comeback is possible with a common currency, if you do your homework. Italy’s and Greece’s memory of doing any homework are much more remote, so the jury is still out.

    Mr. Varoufakis is too young a Greek to have any personal experience with the concept of homework, Peter Martin. His concept of EU reform (Germans pay) will not be adopted. So Ms. Merkel and Mr. Schaeuble are “not so democratic”? As far as I recollect, the German elections were fair, but, indeed, those two are accountable to the German electorate when it comes to spend taxpayers’ money. Would you like to change that? And if yes, only for Germany, or also for the UK?

    matt, we all agree that referendums are a horrible idea, but the most legitimate way to cancel one out. Bear with us one more time.

    Concerning Corbyn, I believe eventually, he has no choice but to come around to Vince’s position, supported by most of his MPs, members, and voters. But there is some merit to his hesitation: as long as he does not present Labour as the hard Brexiteers’ easy target, they will continue to go after their own (i.e. Tory) remainers. A spectacle I, and surely he as well, enjoy more by the day.

  • Peter Martin 4th Feb '18 - 8:56pm


    “Why should the Germans be criticised for running their country efficiently?”

    They aren’t. Running their country efficiently would mean at least balancing their trade. There’s no point in using German resources to supply the Rest of the World with Goods and services unless they need the money from those sales to pay their import bill. As it is Germany is a kind of “black hole” for euros. They go into the German economy but far fewer come out This leaves their trading partners short of euros and having to borrow to try to keep their economies moving.

    The problem is a Teutonic attachment to what is known as Ordoliberalism. It’s not so bad when Germany only has itself to consider, but it is very bad indeed when (of if?) Germany is trying to make a success of the eurozone. An article in the FT refers to “Wacky Economics”

  • Arnold Kiel 4th Feb '18 - 9:14pm


    strange what desperation makes of Brexiters. You have reached a new low.

    None of the recent refugees to Germany has reached the labor-market, and it will be a long time until they can be productively integrated. Germany is currently spending eur 25 billion p.a. on them, but I am sure you find a despicable angle to that as well. Being killed by the 100 thousands by Assad, Putin, IS, etc. has, of course, nothing to do with their “economic migration”. They are also humans and, if they are granted asylum in the EU, they should be free to settle where they find work and an established disapora from their country. I am not aware of any German effort to ask them to move on, but I am sure it would easily be overcome by our neighbours’ (esp. the UK’s) resistance to such tendencies.

    German pensioners, btw, are struggling, and looking with awe at the pension age and -levels they pay for the Greeks.

  • Peter Martin 4th Feb '18 - 9:21pm

    @Arnold Kiel,

    I’m not sure how it works in Germany, but in the UK if anyone is owed money that doesn’t give them an excuse to directly interfere in their debtors’ business activities or use any kind of threat or intimidation. Merkel and Schauble’s democratic credentials, like German law, ends at German borders.

    If they had any claim against the Greek Government they should have persued it through established European legal channels.

  • Arnold Kiel 4th Feb '18 - 9:41pm

    Peter Martin,

    you should know that the various EU rescue packages have conditions attached, the recipients, esp. Greece agreed to. We Germans, just like you Britains, are not accustomed to our partners blatantly breeching agreed contracts. Pointing that out has nothing to do with “directly interfere in their debtors’ business activities or use any kind of threat or intimidation”.

    “Merkel and Schauble’s democratic credentials, like German law” require them to do exactly that.

    How on earth shall Germany balance its trade with a country like Greece that has a rather similar consumption profile but hardly makes anything?

  • @Arnold Kiel

    Nobody is disputing the plight of the Syrian refugee’s, that’s why my post referred to the middle east as a whole and Africa. You think that singling out the terrible situation of Syrians is going to win the argument for you, that is sinking to desperation in my opinion.

    You really trying to convince me that Germany did not have in mind, lets call for all these migrants, we will process them, we will keep the ones that we want, who we think are trainable for our German economy and we will ship the rest out and ask other EU Countries to take their share of them ( You may think that is an unsavoury view that I hold of the German Government, and you would be right) I think Germany will be the biggest architect for the EU’s downfall.

    ” if they are granted asylum in the EU, they should be free to settle where they find work”
    I take it you mean, from the point of being granted asylum, they should be free to live and work anywhere in Europe that they chose?
    Good luck with winning a 2nd referendum if that is the sort of arguments remain is going to make.
    As I understand it, even somone who is granted long term residency in an EU member state that does not automatically entitle them to total freedom of movement of the EU. In any event, the UK, along with Ireland and Denmark, are exempt from this directive. This means that the UK does not have to allow non-EU nationals who are long-term residents of other member states.

  • William Fowler 5th Feb '18 - 8:51am

    A lot of the front bench of the Labour party would dissolve before our eyes if they ever had to accept that their youthful ideals of socialism/marxism were wrong, the Lib Dems now viewed as a nuisance who are stealing the votes they need to get into power. Only reason for a second referendum is if the EU decides on some reform of freedom of movement that would make a significant difference to immigration levels in the UK, so the letter was sent to the wrong person (I am a remainer BTW). You either leave the EU to get control of immigration or you stay in it, all the talk of customs union etc misses the point of the original referendum.

  • Peter Martin 5th Feb '18 - 9:16am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    It doesn’t matter what you “are accustomed to”. Anyone can add any kind of conditions they like, to any contract they like, but they still can’t take matters into their own hands if things turn sour. This is true in law, and I’m sure German law too, regardless of the rights and wrongs of any dispute. The resolution of any financial disagreements should have been conducted by the relevant European courts and Parliament. Not by Germany exercising its political muscles.

    It’s been a long time since people were thrown in prison if they are unable to repay debts. That’s the purpose of bankruptcy. A line is drawn under the matter. The creditors usually lose most of their money and the debtors debts are then cancelled.

    Germany runs a trading surplus deliberately. Partially by manipulating its currency. ie using the euro which is too weak for its economy and partially by running far too tight a fiscal policy. Any country, with its own currency, running a loose fiscal policy runs the risk of higher than desirable inflation, and a falling currency, if the extra spending power generated cannot be matched with real production in the economy.

    This wouldn’t be the case for Germany. The currency cannot fall as it shares its currency with 18 others. Instead imports would rise to meet the extra demand created. Thereby reducing the quite unnecessary trade surplus that it runs. At the same time it would create a market for the more depressed countries in the EZ who could then trade their way out of the financial problems.

  • Vince: “Dear Jeremy, Stop supporting Tory Brexit and give the people a say”

    Dear Vince, You didn’t want to give the people a say (you were against a referendum)..
    Now the people have had their say (Sadly, to leave) it should be respected…
    Another referendum will only muddy the water; if they vote ‘Leave’ again will you accept it?

    Parliament should decide the final outcome; it’s what we elect/pay them to do…

  • Tony Dawson 5th Feb '18 - 12:43pm

    ‘A’ for ‘effort’ Vince. But you are writing to a dyed in the wool brexiteer. Just look at the people he associated himself with* in this hardline vote.

    Then he went on holiday in the referendum campaign – about as far away as he could- when he was meant to be leading his party in a united front (with the odd heretic) against Brexit.

    (*what was Adrian Sanders doing in the lobby with these people????)

    Theresa May wasnts a softer Brexit than Jeremy Corbyn does. 🙁

  • Tony Dawson 5th Feb ’18 – 12:43pm……….Then he went on holiday in the referendum campaign – about as far away as he could- when he was meant to be leading his party in a united front (with the odd heretic) against Brexit………..(*what was Adrian Sanders doing in the lobby with these people????)……………Theresa May wasnts a softer Brexit than Jeremy Corbyn does……………

    I don’t know where, or for how long, he went on holiday but I went to two of his speeches where he spoke honestly and sensibly for remaining… His 7/10 was, at least far more honest than the ‘sky falling’ and ‘faerie gold’ of most of the Remain/Leave spokesmen..BTW, The BBC was prominent at one of the meeting but nothing was shown and that same evening Corbyn was condemned for not speaking out…

    As for Adrian Sanders..Perhaps he was doing what Vince now demands, “Giving the people a say”y

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