Vince on Marr – Rudd, race and the need for a People’s vote on Brexit

There must be an election happening or something. We have had Vince on Marr this morning and Jo Swinson is on Peston as I write.

He was quite measured on Amber Rudd. Rather than call outright for her resignation, he said we needed to hear what she had to say to Parliament tomorrow. One of two things is true:

Either she misled Parliament or she was the last person in the Home Office to know about removal targets.

A later comment by Brandon Lewis on the same programme intensifies the case against Amber Rudd.

Lewis bullishly defended the removal targets, saying that we had to get rid of those bad criminals and illegal immigrants, didn’t we? It is very easy to become an illegal immigrant. A tiny error on a complicated Home Office form can mean that you lose your status. You are given no chance to rectify it. Yet the people responsible for an almighty scandal such as Windrush get off with a few critical newspaper headlines.

I actually hope that Amber Rudd didn’t deliberately mislead Parliament because I don’t want her replaced by some extreme Brexiteer like Gove or Grayling. There is nobody in the Conservative Party who is going to give the Home Office and immigration system the treatment it deserves: dismantling completely and being rebuilt in a fair and compassionate manner which inspires the confidence of those who use it and those who advocate on their behalf.

Back to Vince. He said that most people who voted for Brexit did so for legitimate reasons, but that racism was a factor.

He talked about the problems that he sees in his constituency surgeries and said that the Home Office was understaffed and under-resourced and was therefore making inefficient decisions.

Marr confronted him with the Lib Dem record in the coalition. He said that the worst of the Tory excesses happened after we left coalition – for example, we stopped the requirements for landlords to check immigration status from being rolled out across the country. He also rightly pointed out that he as Business Secretary had had many fights with Theresa May on immigration. Vince also said that he wasn’t in favour of an unqualified amnesty for illegal immigrants but there was a case to exercise good judgement if people had been settled in the country for a period of time.

On Brexit, Vince highlighted the upcoming Commons vote on the customs union as a key staging post. He said that large numbers of Conservative MPs as well as opposition MPs were aware that leaving the customs union would be disastrous and said that once the final reality was known it should be put to a public vote. Brandon Lewis actually made that case later on when he said that staying in the customs union would leave us in a worse position than we are now because we’d have no say in the tariffs set by the EU. So the Brexiteers give us a choice between a catastrophic exit from the customs union or being worse off if we leave the EU and stay in the CU. The best option, clearly, is to stay in the EU.

A typically solid performance from Vince in his key pre-local election interview.

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

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11 Comments

  • But, Vince, we have heard, “What she has to say”….She has done little else for the last week than ‘have her say’. Sadly, ‘her say’ changes moment by moment as each new revelation emerges.
    If she lied she should go and if, as she claims, she doesn’t know what goes on in her ministry she should resign on the grounds of ‘incompetence’

  • If i had to draw up a list of cabinet ministers who I want to resign, Amber Rudd would be much nearer the bottom than the top. However, Vince’s ‘one of two things’ point is quite right, and the logical outcome of that is clear. If she was an ardent brexiteer in this situation, I think we’d be calling for her to go. We have to be consistent. Maybe if she’s on the back benches she’ll feel more free to follow her heart and support us on #exitfrombrexit.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 29th Apr '18 - 11:53am

    Yes, that is a good point.

    But even if she was a Brexiteer, I’d think that the Home Office systems need to be dismantled and rebuilt. No Conservative will do that.

  • In a full report, Caron, you would have included the bit where Vince looked more than a tad discomforted about the role of the former Deputy Prime Minister on the question of illegal immigrants, driving licenses etc.,,

  • David – there is a whole paragraph beginning “Marr confronted him with the Lib Dem record in the coalition…..”

    Heaven knows I’m critcal of LDV and Caron in particular being slavishly loyal. I don’t think its fair to say this is such a case.

  • Sean Hyland 29th Apr '18 - 5:27pm

    David Raw has a point. There is a whole paragraph but just Vince saying what happened after the coalition and nothing about speeches made at the time of policies that were supported by Lib Dems in government. Yes Tories been nastier but we’re pretty nasty during the coalition and were supported by Lib Dems in office.

  • I think Marr should have been more probing about Cable’s assertion that the Brexit vote was driven by a nostalgia for a time “when faces were white”.

    Is Cable saying that Brexit voters think that Europeans immigrants have non-white faces? Does he himself think that European have non-white faces?

    It doesn’t make sense to me.

  • AMBER’S GONE.

  • Arnold Kiel 30th Apr '18 - 8:17am

    Teejay,

    don’t you remember how all kinds of immigration were mixed up in the referendum campaign to maximise the xenophobic harvest? Farage’s posters, Turkey, Syria-refugees… The EU-question was singularly tied to the need to “control” immigration, as if the bigger (and fully controlled) non-EU-component did not exist. Immigration-averse voters did not differentiate.

    If you drilled down into leavers’ immigration motivations, you would find very little objection to Northern or Southern Europeans (or Russian oligarchs and Arab Sheikhs). 1.5 million Eastern Europeans alone are also unlikely to drive this sentiment, even though their rather compressed arrival during the last decade might have been felt strongly in some regions. Anti-immigration sentiments are much older, and have a lot to do with a different physical appearance of some groups of immigrants. Vince was absolutely right.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd May '18 - 4:09pm

    It’s, one of my favourite words, culture, (stupid). Of course the Conservatives cannot build a compassionate immigration system. I don’t even think they know what the word means. If it only takes a wrong word in a complicated form to make you an illegal immigrant, I despair for both the country and those effected.

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