Vince: The time will come for the People’s Vote

So, Vince’s The Leader column on the Party’s website looks like it’s becoming a regular thing.

This week, he talks about Tuesday night’s Brexit votes:

If there is a big loser from yesterday it is Jeremy Corbyn; his speech was beyond abysmal, embarrassing to his own side. It was the culmination of two years of procrastination: sitting on the fence over Brexit. A Labour rebellion last night helped the government snuff out a whole series of constructive amendments which would have probably opened a way forward, perhaps to a People’s Vote.

So where do we go next? The Prime Minister has been sent to Brussels to renegotiate, reopening the Withdrawal Agreement on the ‘Irish Backstop’ which she has been told repeatedly is not negotiable. There is a possibility that, in search of a quiet life, the EU Heads of Government and the Commission give in and abandon Ireland. I think not.

So what happens next – soon the People’s Vote has its chance:

So after two weeks pursuing her backbenchers’ fantasies (more time wasting), Theresa May then comes back without a new agreement and we finally reach a dead end: the deal which she originally negotiated versus ‘no deal’. No Deal then becomes a live possibility – no longer just bluff in a dangerous game of chicken. I believe that if we reach that choice, sanity will prevail. Theresa May will see the logic in taking her deal to the country in a People’s Vote against the option of remain.

He spoke to Japanese companies this week and suggests that we are in for a quiet exodus:

Having worked with and encouraged Nissan, Fujitsu, Honda, Toyota and Hitachi to invest heavily in the UK when I was Business Secretary I was painfully aware that they have invested here primarily because the UK was seen as a ‘gateway’ to the EU single market.

They are already shifting operations out of the UK. They won’t walk out dramatically: they have too much invested here and Japanese businesses don’t do drama. But – hard or soft Brexit – there will be a steady, quiet, draining away of activity. In 5 to 10 years’ time we will miss them.

And he also has another book recommendation for us.

You can read the whole thing here.

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  • What I do find amusing is that people were up in arms in the US when politicians there in the past have suggested that corporations should have the vote.

    Not that I am endorsing such a thing here by any means, but if corporations had the vote, there would be no Brexit.

    Good to see Cable attack Corbyn though – the far left are just as culpable as the far right. Socialism is immoral.

  • If we do have another Referendum (not sure why it’s still called a People’s Vote, surely it’s the same thing) , can Vince Cable and other proponents desist from dismissing the people who voted Leave last time as “old”, “uneducated”, “racist” etc. This is not the way to attract them to the Remain cause. I believe that there is a cohort of people who voted Leave last time who could be persuaded to change their mind in another Referendum if treated with respect and a recognition of why they might have voted Leave, rather than making ageist assumptions. I write as someone who would be defined as “old” and “uneducated” (hopefully not “racist”) but who voted Remain.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Feb '19 - 12:53pm

    “Socialism is immoral.”

    Personally I think it simply does not work – but please tell us why you think it is immoral.

  • Peter Martin 1st Feb '19 - 2:46pm

    @ Stimpson,

    “Socialism is immoral.”

    Libertarians of the extreme right often come out with this sort of comment. There’s always the question of what is socialism and what is state capitalism. The Nationalisation of the railways, for example, can be considered State Capitalism rather than socialism.

    But it goes further than that. The State is an integral part of the capitalist system. Money is an IOU of government. It is created when Govt spends it into the economy. It is destroyed when Govt taxes it out of the economy.

    But Libertarians don’t much like that idea. They think money comes from the taxpayer! Which doesn’t make much sense at all. And where from before that? Is it created by God?

    So all modern day capitalism , even in the USA, is a form of State Capitalism. Sorry but that’s just the way it is.

  • Paul Barker 1st Feb '19 - 3:27pm

    No-one knows what’s going to happen but its inevitable that the outside world is going to intervene in Westminster before the end. Ive always thought that most of the big stuff will happen very quickly at the last possible moment. Stupid decisions will be taken which we will all be paying for over decades to come.
    Whether we sucseed in stopping Brexit or not, our Economy will suffer long-term damage & both Labour & Tories will be broken.
    There is everything to play for.

  • Peter Martin 1st Feb '19 - 3:30pm

    “But – hard or soft Brexit – there will be a steady, quiet, draining away of activity. In 5 to 10 years’ time we will miss them (ie car makers) .”

    We heard this sort of thing when the UK didn’t adopt the euro.

    The car makers will leave if they aren’t making a profit and they’ll stay if they are. They don’t care what currency we use or our exact status within or without of the EU. The problem of tariffs should be easily solved if the revenue from incoming cars and components is used to subsidise our exports. There’s more than enough to do that.

  • Vince raises some good points, but rather than address them Stimpson and Co rush off to discuss which ideology dances best on the head of the needle. Word of advice gents, no one cares about ideology when their tummy feels their throat has been cut. Address the reality not the abstract world you inhabit.

    A phrase that keeps running through my mind when this sort of discusion breaks out is “the devil makes work for idle hands”. In this case the devil is having fun helping Stimpson and Co create abstract answers for problems they will need to create before they can apply the answer. Hopefully they will struggle to create the problem, because as we can all see when as is the case with Brexit they do create it, the answers they have don’t answer it.

  • So at last a plan from a Brexiteer, sorry a Lexiteer. Let’s put tarrifs in place and use them to support industry. Can we see the problem boys and girls, what you mean there are loads, pray tell what are they.
    1 Frictionless trade stops
    2 Red tape abounds
    3 Everything slows down as we struggle to implement the plan

    You could go on , please don’t boys and girls, the poor Lexiteer will struggle to answer those, all though I’m sure his answers will contain unicorns and fairies, O you think it will be new yet to be invented technology. Well boys and girls you could very well be right.

  • @Richard C – agree absolutely about how ‘Remain’ should approach any future referendum … although the prospects of this ever happening seem to have (temporarily?) receded – despite Vince’s apparent optimism that sanity will ultimately prevail.

    Once the ERG/DUP finally reject Theresa May’s “deal” when her Backstop “re-negotiation” comes to nought, I hope Vince is right about what happens next. However, I have my doubts.

    Instead of TM seeing the logic of calling a referendum on her deal versus remain, I fear that events could well now be drifting towards a Tory/Labour cross-party Brexit. Either of these two options could potentially secure a HoC majority although probably seriously (possibly irreparably) splitting the Tory Party in the process – but the second option (a cross-party “deal”) would also sharply expose the divisions within Labour … so that’s the option she’s more likely to prefer!

  • Peter Martin 1st Feb '19 - 4:03pm

    @ frankie,

    There’s no such thing as frictionless trade even in the EU. For a start all the VAT rates are different. It’s 23% in Ireland. That’s just on the standard rate. There’s other lower rates that apply to food and they are also different in the UK and Ireland. There still isn’t really an open border in Ireland. Then we have a standard rate of 27% in Hungary. If an order comes in from the UK we just had 20% VAT. Simple. But if the same order comes in from the EU we have to check the VAT status of the purchaser and they either get it VAT free or they still have to pay the 20%.

    If I get it wrong and don’t charge VAT when I should, we get a bill from the VAT man!

    In many ways, it’s easier selling outside the EU then we know for sure we don’t have to add any VAT at all!

  • Barry Lofty 1st Feb '19 - 4:06pm

    I agree with Richard C, although relatively uneducated I look at Mrs May and Mr Corbnyn and think education does not always give you common sense or an imagination that could bring this whole sorry Brexit problem to a sensible conclusion. Well said Vince, let’s hope the media pick up on your solutions and give them a fair hearing?!!!

  • David Becket 1st Feb '19 - 4:26pm

    More logical than his first effort. He might well be right, when May’s re-negotiation falls flat on its face (which it is likely to) the choice could be Peoples Vote or crash out.
    The challenge for the Lib Dems is to be ready to respond to one of three options:

    May’s proposal modified
    Peoples Vote
    Crash Out

    Are we prepared??

  • John Marriott 1st Feb '19 - 5:02pm

    You know all this fuss about ‘will she, won’t she?’ and ‘will we, won’t we?’ reminds of selling stuff on eBay. You put a minimum price on something, watch the ‘watchers’, then an ‘offer’ comes in. Two days later, with the deadline approaching the ‘offer’ has hardly risen and then, with three minutes to go, the figure suddenly starts to rise as frantic bids come in. Brexit might end a bit like that.

    So, where does that leave the ‘People’s Vote’? Very much on the back burner, I would say. As things stand at the moment, that’s probably the best place for it. Don’t rule out common sense and Parliament coming to the rescue; but don’t expect it to happen for some time yet.

  • Leekliberal 1st Feb '19 - 7:21pm

    John Marriott says ‘Don’t rule out common sense and Parliament coming to the rescue; but don’t expect it to happen for some time yet.’
    I agree on the timing but when the imperative choice is either crashing out or a Peoples Vote, even for our sad bunch of politicians from Tweedlelab and Tweedlecon at Westminster, the light bulb will finally come on!

  • Very good Peter. Your solution to answering the question of how we make trade even more friction less is, lets increase the red tape, that will cure it. I’m aware of the Carousel VAT fraud Peter, but given your desire add in tariff’s as well we will end up with that and the Carousel Tariff fraud as well. You solution adds complexity and cost and that means business will move. Now when it does what happens to the workforce left behind, are you going to put your hand in your pocket to support them?

    Brexit will make us poorer why even Digby says that now

    Lord Digby Jones was in a debate with Femi Oluwole on BBC’s Newsnight when he turned to the Our Future Our Choice campaigner to refute claims that Brexit was about the economy being better off.

    Oluwole said: “No-deal is not what people voted for. Back in 2016 every single Brexit campaigner said we could get a better deal than with the EU.

    “In fact the entire narrative was ‘they need us more than we need them’. It was propagated on the idea we were going to get a good deal.”

    However Lord Digby snapped back and dismissed Oluwole’s claims.

    “No they didn’t!” he responded. “I actually campaigned for Brexit and I made it very clear in every speech I gave we would be economically worse off.”

    Of Cause Digby didn’t claim that, like many a Brexiteer he’s rewriting history. You Brexiteers, sorry Lexiteers so like to rewrite what you have previously said.

    In Digby’s case he said

    Former business minister Lord Digby Jones has said the result could benefit businesses and that it was an opportunity to enter a global race.

    “You have a golden opportunity, Britain is the most globalised country on earth,” he said.

    you could also try clicking on

    but it seems to be temporally unavailable. Poor Digby, he Peter encapsulates the Brexiteers, when faced with reality, they twist and turn and claim black is white. You too tend to do this, to be fair you are far from the worse, but you do engage with tacking away from inconvenient truths. I know you need to believe Brexit will work, because the idiot in the mirror is not something any of us want to see, but we all do when we make bad mistakes. Unfortunately with Brexit the idiot will be staring back at you for years to come, as bad news thunders in, while bad things happen to the country and people you hold dear.

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Feb '19 - 9:47pm

    Good to see you in fine form, Frankie! I must admit I think, as Sean Hagan does, that there could now possibly be a Tory/Labour stitch-up for a ‘soft’ Brexit . But happily there are such irreconcilable views in both parties that there is still a strong chance of a referendum emerging. To assist, I’d like to see an indignation movement arising now among young people – ‘Leave us our free futures!’ sort of thing – to put pressure on the shape-shifters in the House of Commons. Perhaps the Young Lib Dems could lead it and galvanise student activists. Anybody among us with strong connections with the YLs , please do encourage them!

  • Martin,
    They can only cope by stock piling, that costs. You can live with that on production lines in full flow, you have already invested in the machinery, but what you don’t do is replace the machinery. As car lines come to an end, you retool at a new location and shut the old one. So for example will Elesmere Port shut the day after Brexit, probably not but it probably will shut when the Astra range is replaced by the next model. That will be the fate of car manufacturing, as a model ends so will the site. It will be a long draw out sad affair and shouting “Tis all the fault of the EU” won’t pay the workers mortgages.

  • Personally, I suspect some Remainers are clinging to the idea that the sky will fall, that there will be some last minute reprieve and that the pre-2016 political consensus will return. But the past is the past. Even recent nostalgia is an expression of sadness for the loss of what once was and will never be again.

  • I don’t know whether others feel the same – but the country seems like it’s about to explode. I think the Lib Dems are, outside of local elections, a party from an old paradigm – open borders, neoliberal, no interest in working people in this country.

    I think there could be enormous electoral change in the coming years – the future political and electoral landscape will be unrecognisable from 2015. It’ll be about assimilation, an economic model intensely focussed on people at the bottom while controlling migration to help make that happen. Brexit is the first earthquake the change in the political landscape is the second.

  • The only meaningful referendum would be between the two options actually on offer:

    1. Abandon Article 50 and remain in the EU.
    2. Leave the EU with no deal.

  • What is needed is a positive campaign to try to get the truth out about the EU. Whether the leader of the opposition is a good politician or not is not the point. The issue is that in the European Union we have a unique international organisation which is democratic and open. We are members of many organisations which obviously restrict our souveignty. Only the EU has this element of openness and accountability.
    This does not mean that it is a new state overriding our own state.
    Until we get the truth out there we are going to have continuing problems.

  • @James – “I don’t know whether others feel the same – but the country seems like it’s about to explode”

    Not really. I think that despite the furious debate in Parliament and on political platforms like LDV, a large chunk of the population still either doesn’t really care or just wants it over with on the basis that whatever happens we will “muddle through”.

    It pains me to say it, but I’m starting to think that TM’s “strategy” is going to work. I can see the EU offering up some legally meaningless but cosmetically supportive statement that (coupled with another bung for NI) is just enough to get the DUP on board. Then she will offer just enough in terms of guaranteeing worker’s rights and support for industry to get Labour MPs in Leave areas on board. If she’s smart, she might even let Corbyn take the credit.

    Then we will be out, and the sky won’t fall in, and the automotive industry won’t flounce out in a huff.

    But we will pay for it in the long term with a gradual drift away by the automotive and aerospace industries, and it will become apparent that the promised free trade deals with the US, India, China etc. all come with some heavy strings attached.

  • If we leave the EU without a deal we face rapid decline. The plus side of that is the shock of reality will force some Brexiteers to face reality. I reluctantly excluded a number of the posters on this site from facing reality, they have commited far too much of their self worth to Brexit, to ever admit an idiot stares back at them in the mirror ( they are I am afraid far from unique). If May gets a deal the decline will take longer and the ablity to claim the bad things that happen are not the fault of Brexit increase, this plausible dineablity benefits the Brexiteers as their stupidity is less obvious. In the end it matters little to the ordinary man in the street, they will be poorer with less opportunities. Some Brexiteers feel they will be alright, they are set up for life, nice pensions but what they fail to understand is the services they require need paying for and a poorer country will expect them to pay. I suspect in a short time period a number if the more ardent Brexiteers will be moaning the roads are shocking, the NHS won’t fix their hip and the world has gone to pot since their day; they are likely to receive little sympathy.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Feb '19 - 9:21am

    James, if there is to be a future economic model ‘intensely focussed on people at the bottom’ it is likely to be one influenced by the Liberal Democrats, who do concentrate on individuals and the poorest and most disadvantaged, in contrast to the Labour Party with their union-member and middle-class needs focus. As for our party being neo-liberal, it certainly hasn’t been that since 2015, and the party’s long-standing concern for working people in this country was amply demonstrated on the thoughtful and well-worked out policy passed in Brighton last September, called Good Jobs, Better Businesses and Stronger Communities. You are peddling tired Labour myths about our party.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Feb '19 - 10:03am

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    Don’t take the ‘neoliberal’ charge in too much of a partisan manner. The truth is that all mainstream political parties, including Labour and the Greens, are neoliberal to a large extent. It’s not the fault of the political parties per se. It has been the accepted mainstream theory in the Economics profession for at least the last 40 years. So, we have had a whole generation or more of politicians and civil servants who have been through the university system and have been steeped in neoliberal theory.

    In the 90s and 00s most politicians genuinely thought they’d cracked the secret of success. We were told about the ‘end of history’ etc. The events of 2008 should have put paid to all that but old theories die hard. Maybe only one funeral at a time!

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Feb '19 - 10:22am


    “open borders, neoliberal, no interest in working people in this country”.

    Don’t you see the internal contradiction in this most populist equation? There are millions of working people in the UK in well paid and qualified jobs BECAUSE they contribute to global open-border processes organised by successful globally oriented capitalist, neoliberal enterprises in a country that successfully and seamlessly competes and collaborates with the world’s best in many sectors.

    Do you really believe anybody in the the UK is served if much of that is lost, your car has become more expensive (without feeding any British family upstream of sales and maintenance), but a native Briton gives you a more expensive haircut or makes you worse coffee?

  • Arnold
    I think a lot people thoughtlessly fling the phrase “populism” about because ideas like open boarders, the constantly predicted end of the nation state and so on lack electoral traction. In short they are mistaking the collapse of a fairly recent political orthodoxy with the “rise” something.
    The mass movement of people is not being driven by successful liberal policies, but by war and poor prospects at home. It’s a symptom of failure rather than success.

  • Sue Sutherland 2nd Feb '19 - 11:57am

    Peter Martin I think you have revealed why many people find it difficult to trust experts and why many Leave voters believe everything will be OK after Brexit. Experts disagree with each other and unless it’s your field their arguments are incomprehensible. In addition, financial and economic experts failed to predict the 2008 crash and some of them were the cause of it. So many people have resorted to gut instinct and emotion for their stance.

  • Peter Martin at 10.03 Well said, but I think you might have been more emphatic. Isn’t it the case that the ‘neoliberal’ consensus is collapsing about the ears of the present community of economists, in what perhaps amount to our friend the Paradigm Shift? The very word has only come to dominance in the last decade or so. Partly, I believe, that was because many on the right were beginning to realise the intellectual hollowness of Thatcherism (as it was called for a couple of decades or so), and rebranded it to look like some aberration inflicted on the Coalition by the Lib Dems.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Feb '19 - 12:44pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    ” open-border processes organised by successful globally oriented ……..a native Briton gives you a more expensive haircut or makes you worse coffee?”

    So you’re arguing for ‘open borders’? If so, why does your beloved EU have closed borders? Why does the EU have high vehicle and food tariffs? If I want to buy a Japanese car why should I have to pay extra? If I want to buy NZ butter why should I have to pay extra for that too? If we can protect German car manufacturers and French farmers why not UK barbers and baristas?

    I’m not saying we should but I’m just pointing out the double standard here.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Feb '19 - 1:17pm


    exactly what I mean with populism: electoral traction as the principal policy yardstick; his would lead directly to e.g. the reintroduction of the death penalty. So locking people in in Romania or Syria will stop corruption and war, respectively? Migration is globally beneficial, but can be locally detrimental, true. But as the winners win more than the losers lose, compensation would be possible, but does not happen. That is the political failing.

    Peter Martin,

    I was only rejecting the equating of “open borders” with “no interest in working people” without defining either .

  • Arnold I would vote against the death penalty. The difference between me and thee is that I don’t see my vote as anymore significant than that of people I disagree with’
    IMO if your politics aren’t shared by enough people then you don’t get to impose them. I can tell people that I think the death penalty is wrong, but so what?
    As for immigration. Again my argument is win majority support and then have free movement. Let the electorate decide if they think it’s beneficial. If they do, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s up to them. You are not a moral guardian. Your views are no more meaningful than anyone-else’s. Nor am I and nor are my views.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Feb '19 - 2:58pm


    do you believe there is right and wrong, moral and immoral? I do. And I believe that these judgements can be arrived at by discourse and reflection, not just by voting. Nobody is a moral guardian, but we all should be guardians of truthful (another thing I believe exists) discourse. In the end, there can be a vote (IMO better by elected representatives than the population), but the discourse must come first. That is what I am contributing to.

    Not my or your view is superior, but the one that is refined by discourse and reflection. Populism lacks both, and consequently produces inferior views.

  • Popularism is the simple answer that appeals to the gut. It apportions blame but always to someone else, never the person who the answer is aimed at. It’s a feel good solution, a simple answer that solves all your problems by punishing someone else. The only problem is it doesn’t work, blaming someone else for your ills overlooks the fact they are invariably caused by your own decisions. We can see that with many Brexiteers who are driven by fear and a sense of desolation, forgivable perhaps in the young, but the older Brexiteers who effectively gave us the world we live in, not at all; after all you created it, suck it up.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Feb '19 - 3:37pm

    What’s the difference between populism and democracy?

    Is it populism when the ‘elites’ don’t approve of the outcome but democracy when they do?

  • Peter Martin 2nd Feb '19 - 3:56pm

    Tony Benn was always regarded as being on the far left but he was a true democrat too. He often said that democracy was more important than socialism.

    Probably Lib Dems would agree with him on that point! He’d always argue that people in positions of power should have to answer these questions:

    “What power have you got?”

    “Where did you get it from?”

    “In whose interests do you use it?”

    “To whom are you accountable?”

    “How do we get rid of you?”

    I’d like to be able to put these questions to people like Jean Claude Juncker, Michael Barnier and Sabine Weyland!

  • Arnold
    It depend on what you mean by representatives. I’m not convinced that ordinary people are that dangerous or that MPs are that good. Of course, I believe in right and wrong. However, I don’t believe anyone is infallible on the issue.

  • Daniel Walker 2nd Feb '19 - 4:30pm

    @Peter Martin Tony Benn was a man of honour; I went to a talk he gave once and he was excellent. I disagree with his position on Europe, however.

    Regarding your questions, they are easily answerable with a couple of minutes with your favoured search engine. If basic research is not your forté, however:

    Barnier and Weyand are negotiators, not lawmakers, and have a role similar to ambassadors or diplomats. They have no statutory powers of their own (they may have “soft power”, in that their opinions are listened to, but that’s their role as appointed experts) They are accountable to the European Commission, Council and Parliament.

    Junker, as you know, is the President of the European Commission. Like all commissioners, he is accountable to the European Parliament, and derives his power from approval from the Parliament and the European Council (in recent years the President of the Commission has been nominated by the Spitzenkandidat process during EU Parliamentary elections). You get rid of him by writing to your MEPs and getting enough votes to get the Parliament to censure him. Technically, this has never happened, but the threat of it caused the Jaques Santer commission to resign, however, so it is not a dead letter.

    Happy? I suspect not, because you knew all that already.

  • Bless Peter popularism, is what the elite use to misdirect the people from their real problems. The fact you don’t understand that is either because your part of the elite or are easily fooled. I’ll leave the readership of Lib Dem voice to make their own opinion on which camp you fall.

  • When Brexiteers laud popularism perhaps we should remind ourselves what Eric Blair wrote and wonder how he managed to encapsulate one of the main drivers of Brexit.
    ” It was not desirable that the proles should have strong poltical feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances.”
    George Orwell, 1984

    Popularism appeals to the victim in us all. It might be difficult to fight against the siren call, but fight we should and fight we must.

  • David Evans 2nd Feb '19 - 6:57pm

    Nissan to cancel new X-Trail production line in Sunderland. Yet more Brexit lies come home to roost with the poor who were fooled by May, Farage, Martin and Rees Mogg.

    Another example of how The Conservative Party are destroying Britain one day at a time.

    We need a #PeoplesVote, but is there any of our leaders who have a plan on how to get one?

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Feb '19 - 8:27pm


    You are “not convinced that ordinary people are that dangerous or that MPs are that good”. Neither am I in this over-simplistic sense. But you will agree that a professional politician is less susceptible to mendacious propaganda, is more knowledgeable about policy options, has more time to research issues, and is aware that he decides for a diverse cross-section of around 80.000 voters who will hold him to account, not just for himself. All of that makes them more qualified decision makers. Except for where there is a referendum result, which makes them uncertain about exercising their better judgement; then most political quality-control falls by the wayside, as can be currently observed. Democracies are representative for a reason.

  • Martin,

    You asked what would happen to the car industry and I explained I thought they’d run down existing factories overtime by not replacing car lines as they ceased, well so it has begun

    Nissan is expected to announce that it is cancelling a planned investment at its plant in Sunderland.

    In 2016 the car maker said it would build the X-Trail SUV in Sunderland after receiving “assurances” from the government over Brexit.

    The company is expected to say investment will be now be pulled, rather than existing work being halted.

    Glen and Peter Martin, you need to get up to Sunderland to reassure the workforce that their sacrifice will not go unrewarded and you’ll ensure they are no worse off. After all to you Brexit is worth the sacrifice.

  • Richard O'Neill 2nd Feb '19 - 11:41pm

    I genuinely hope that in whatever discussions Vince Cable has with foreign companies, he tries to emphasise the benefits of investing in Britain (a large market in its own right). There is a danger of confusing anti-Brexit policy with anti-British policy,

    Lib Dems need to start planning policies for post-Brexit Britain rather than continuously insisting that it won’t happen,

  • Arnold
    I don’t accept that they are less susceptible to anything. Hence, nonsense like wars of regime change and so on. I also think voters mostly elect parties not MPs .
    So we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

  • Martin,
    No deal will obviously speed it up, May’s deal will make it happen fairly quickly, a single market and customs union will make it happen more slowly; but what ever way we are stuffed. Interested our resident Brexiteers/Lexiteers are failing to engage with the news, but in their world tis constant sun lit uplands; beware the idiot in the mirror they cry, clean your teeth with your eyes closed they chant, that way you’ll never see him, bless.

  • Arnold Kiel 3rd Feb '19 - 8:24am

    Richard O’Neill,

    UK-only manufacturing investments make no sense. It is more economical to accept some tariffs and lower prices, but bundle capacity on the continent. After all, most UK-made cars are for export, so this will simply be inverted. There will be less jobs, higher prices, and less choice in the UK, not a big problem for global firms. From a continental perspective, more value added will be on-shored than lost, so it will be net beneficial.

    The few publicised inward investments still happening are in real-estate or services. Even strictly local endeavours like power generation are faltering.


    short-term, companies decide based on variable cost. In the case of cars, staff, equipment, supply-contracts, dealership contracts are fixed. They will therefore make and sell cars at a loss for a while, if the per unit variable cash loss is less than the sales price of the vehicle. But they will work hard to cut (i.e. make variable) their fixed costs as quickly as possible, e.g. firing staff, dealers, renegotiating supply contracts, stopping investment (already happening since 2016), etc. At some not too distant point, they will cut their losses and move the production-line to the continent. The rapid pace of innovation and therefore plant obsolescence in this sector is accelerating this process.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Feb '19 - 10:23am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    The post Brexit economy will look significantly different. What is uneconomical now possibly won’t be afterwards.

    For example if you’re in the fruit supply industry, the sensible thing to do at the moment is import the produce from Spain. There’re no tariff barriers. Consequently many UK orchards are in a state of neglect. If they still exist at all. English apples are quite a rarity in the shops.

    Around where I live, which isn’t in a particularly affluent area, you can see apple, and other trees in full fruit in Sept/Oct and the owners don’t even bother to pick the produce!

    So maybe we will have to work a bit harder on the land, and not be quite so reliant on imports and EU workers. It may not turn out to be a bad thing!

  • Arnold Kiel 3rd Feb '19 - 10:25am


    in the end, British car making will disappear, the speed of this development does not make a fundamental difference. Clearly, a hard Brexit will ensure the fastest possible exit.

    Frozen food does not move any slower upstream than fresh food, as producers and retail must minimise working capital and storage and maximise inventory turnover. Just the consumer has the space and cash to store it longer. Therefore, the same supply risks apply.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Feb '19 - 10:36am

    @ David Evans,

    “Nissan to cancel new X-Trail production line in Sunderland!”

    OK. But how do we know this is due to Brexit?

    Car sales are falling on a worldwide basis as the global economy slows. Or maybe you’re saying this is all because of Brexit?

    You can find lots of other articles along these lines with headlines such as “EU car sales fall for 4th month in a row”. Another effect of Brexit too?

  • Peter Martin 3rd Feb '19 - 10:56am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “British car making will disappear”

    It disappeared a long time ago. Even Rolls Royce isn’t British any longer. Neither are Minis!

    This has all happened while we’ve been in the EU. Maybe it’s inevitable as the UK moves into a post industrial economy.

  • Arnold Kiel 3rd Feb '19 - 11:31am

    Peter Martin,

    what disappeared long ago (and partially triggered EU accession) was adequate British management and funding. What was left were brand values and a skilled workforce. Foreigners brought the missing components, saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, and resurrected car making in Britain. But it hinges on CU/SM-membership. That might not be good enough for you, but it puts food on the table for many families in Britain’s otherwise most disadvantaged regions.

    Post industrial means a flourishing SE and destitution everywhere else.

  • Arnold Kiel 3rd Feb '19 - 11:43am


    unfortunately, speed equals capacity. With a given fleet of freezing trucks, trucking licenses, ferry-space and -piers, a doubling of travel time means cutting delivery volumes in half. And this goes both ways, as the number of trucks arriving must approximately equal the number leaving (continental transport must also continue), limiting Britain’s outbound volumes. In my example, half of the UK production would have to go in frozen storage. There is also no capacity for that, and it would be unclear where these volumes would eventually go.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Feb '19 - 12:45pm

    I find it all very despairing. In trying to get a deal agreed by parliament and Europe, she is slowly and methodically destroying all our infrastructure and economic infrastructure. Worse, she still thinks she’s on the right path. It’s a bit like a Saturday night thriller, though then you know it will all end up okay and if not that it’s only fiction.

  • Bless Peter how do we know the bin bagging of Sunderland was anything to do with Brexit. Perhaps a bit of a clue is Nissan said it was a factor. They ain’t even disembeling about why they are pulling out now. Intresting to see Sean O’Grady in the Independent has woken up, one less Brexit apologist, I wonder if Lexit Larry will be next. The facts, the facts get you all in the end.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Feb '19 - 6:36pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “Post industrial means a flourishing SE and destitution everywhere else.”

    No it doesn’t. The Government of a currency issuing country has all the powers it needs to ensure economic equalisation and to ensure that activity is close to optimal throughout the currency zone.

    The same is true in the EZ of course. If the economies of parts of the EZ are overheating at the same time as other parts are in deep recession, that is just the result of a political decision. If there was an effective fiscal transfer union in the EZ, that need not happen.

  • Peter,
    Being able to issue a currency only works if people believe the currency has value. Zimbabwe was a currency issuing country, but no one believed in the value of the currency you do know how that ended. You by voting for Brexit have damaged the faith in the value of sterling, buying things with it will be more difficult, hence your dreams will fail to come to fruition, no sun lit uplands for you I fear, just hard conversations with those that face a hard future. I’d look at Mr O’Grady’s latest piece in the Independent, a now ex-Brexiteer.

  • Peter Martin 4th Feb '19 - 9:13am


    Just on a point of information: Zimbabwe had a war that severely reduced Zimbabwean production. The fall in production was aggrevated by taking farms off those who knew how to run them and giving them to those who didn’t. So even without the government printing a single extra Zimbabwean dollar there’s going to be a huge inflation problem.

    Essentially this was the same story in the Weimar Republic and post WW1 Hungary.

    There are plenty of gold bugs in the USA and the UK who ‘don’t believe’ the $ and £ has any value because it isn’t linked to gold. That is until you ask them to hand over any cash they might have! They change their tune then! Because in the UK and USA there is something to buy with the $ and £.

    So the task for government is to regulate the economy avoiding too much inflation on the one hand and too much recession and unemployment on the other.

  • Peter Martin 4th Feb '19 - 9:39am

    @ Martin

    This is how apples can be picked in the 21st century. But they will only be picked this way if wages are above a certain threshold.

  • This is how apples can be picked in the 21st century. But they will only be picked this way if wages are above a certain threshold.

    Well that won’t be happening in a post Brexit-UK. That requires investment, ie. spending money up front, why do that when the government will be falling over backwards to ensure there will be a supply of cheap (local and imported) labour…

    In some ways here we have another example of the daftness of the Brexit case, many Brexiteers were arguing that within the EU labour costs where too high, hence why the UK should leave; failing to understand that high labour costs (and scarcity) encourage investment that increases productivity. Naturally, elsewhere where labour rates are higher businesses will make the investment and surprise surprise the UK will, even with unlimited cheap labour, be unable to compete with these admittedly few but relatively highly paid and highly productive workers…

    The trouble is that this state of affairs goes back decades and has almost become institutionalised/set-in-stone in some parts of UK management and body politic.

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