Vince: This is the beginning of the end of Brexit

Well, that was quite something. I had thought the estimates of a 200+ majority against were expectation management, so a defeat of less than 100 looked great.

But, no. The vote was lost by 230 votes. The biggest defeat in living memory.

A Government with a competent main opposition party would be in serious trouble.

But what was Theresa May’s instinctive reaction? She started talking about how this put EU citizens at risk. I mean, really. She turned them back into bargaining chips. I, for one, am not having that.

Jeremy Corbyn has finally won a motion of no confidence but when that is lost tomorrow, he will have to make up his mind whether to back a People’s Vote or not. We can only hope that he will listen to the almost 80% of his members who want Labour to back that.

Jo Swinson was the first Lib Dem to say anything after the  vote – she raised a Point of Order to  how Parliament could assert its authority to bring about a People’s Vote. In his response, Speaker John Bercow seemed to indicate on his reply that he would allow amendments to that effect.

Vince confirmed that he had signed Corbyn’s motion of no confidence and would support it and challenged the Labour leader to get behind a People’s Vote.

Brexit is becoming a national humiliation.

Liberal Democrats have campaigned since the referendum to give people the final say on Brexit. Theresa May has failed to persuade her party, failed to persuade Parliament and failed in her attempts to scaremonger MPs to back her.

The Prime Minister now needs to pull her head out of the sand and start acting responsibly by taking the ludicrous threat of a no-deal Brexit off the table. The only way forward for the country is through a People’s Vote where people have the right to choose to stay in the EU.

It is also time for Jeremy Corbyn to find his backbone, drop his plans for a Labour-led Brexit, and back our calls for a People’s Vote.

Willie Rennie also called for a People’s Vote to ensure that the Prime Minister couldn’t just look to her party to sort it out:

This is a historic and devastating defeat for the Prime Minister. Her deal is in tatters. So is her credibility.

With public services at risk, what happens next is too important to be left to an utterly divided Conservative party.

When she returns to Parliament, the Prime Minister should announce plans for a People’s Vote, giving power back to the British public to decide how they want to proceed.

And Jane Dodds for Wales made it a hat-trick of calls for a People’s Vote:

Brexit has become a national embarrassment, and this heavy and humiliating defeat for the Prime Minister is just the latest example of a very sorry saga. Theresa May’s deal is dead, she cannot attempt to have another vote on her deal.

Only decisive action will end this chaos, only a People’s Vote will solve this crisis. There is no Brexit deal that could be better than our current relationship or that could pass Parliament.

If Theresa May won’t support a People’s Vote, Jeremy Corbyn must immediately lend his full-throated support to a People’s Vote and throw the full weight of Labour behind the campaign.

The only solution to this Brexit impasse is to give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.

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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Let’s just hope Vince doesn’t have any more lunch engagements over coming days.

  • John Chandler 15th Jan '19 - 8:47pm

    @ian: depends if Labour make a big fuss about abstaining, wrecking any chances of defeating the government, then change their minds at the last minute.

    Anyway… I was expecting maybe a hundred majority as some Tory MPs got last minute nerves, but not this much. There’s still a long way to go, but this is an important moment in taking back control of the farce that is Brexit.

  • David Becket 15th Jan '19 - 8:59pm

    How did the country get into this mess? It started a long time ago with the running down of traditional industries, and no serious attempt to replace them with worthwhile jobs. Austerity piled on the pressure. The referendum was a disgrace, the leave side making promises that could not be achieved whilst the remain side indulged in scare tactics like Osborne’s sham budget.
    After the vote the government should have got down to working out what was achievable without damaging the country. There was no attempt to produce a way forward and May triggered Article 50 with no agreed route map from the cabinet. If the Churchill/Attlee cabinet had behaved like that we would have lost the war. She set red lines and came out with statements like “Brexit means Brexit”, hardly a good start to negotiations. May then threw her slender majority away through an unnecessary election. She appointed Johnson, Davies and Fox as key ministers for implementing Brexit, none of them up to the task.
    She achieved the best possible deal she was likely to achieve under the circumstances. We could have been here a year ago, but she kept on kicking the can down the road, until time had run out. Somehow we have got to recover from this disaster. Corbyn does not offer a way forward, if anything his behaviour is more irresponsible than May’s. We have little choice but to go back to the public, though on a tighter controlled referendum than before. Some 30% of the population are so convinced that the EU is a bad idea that they would risk the economic damage of a no deal and just walk away. You cannot have 30% of the population driving the country over an economic cliff edge, but some of their concerns cannot be ignored. The remain campaign must not just campaign to stay in the EU but must offer some solutions to the dire state this country is in, and there is no sign of either the Tory or Labour Parties tackling the issues with workable solutions.

  • If there is a referendum we will only get a vote to stay if we start talking about the real EU. My feeling is that it is too late. We have had years of nonsense about the EU being undemocratic. The EU being run by bureaucrats. And so on.
    We need to start to tell the reality. Britain via its government has agreed to the present organisation of the EU. It is not them, but us. And the us is democratic.
    When does the campaign to tell the truth going to start?

  • The irony of Vince Cable a man who watched his party be destroyed in the dreaded Coalition misery years and did nothing..NOTHING.. calling for Corbyn to find a backbone.. Staggering.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jan '19 - 11:08pm

    “The vote was lost by 230 votes. The biggest defeat in living memory.”
    Longer than living memory?
    Sadly the tory rebels will go home tomorrow and be loyal to mummy in Labour’s vote of no confidence under the terms of the Fixed Term parliament act.
    After their defeat in the Ribble Valley bye-election they were running around like headless chickens until Labour (who had come third) moved a motion of no confidence in the Commons.

  • Not sure what one more than a hat trick is, but Naomi Long has been leading calls for a people’s vote in Northern Ireland.

  • If the rumours that a number of Labour and Tory MPs are going to “pivot” to supporting a ‘People’s Vote’ are true, that’s going to hurt the Lib Dems. The party’s one USP, dare I say in some instances obsession, will soon be lost. Some will no doubt claim it’s all down to the Lib Dems and the electorate will ‘reward’ us, but I sincerely doubt it. If there’s a snap general election soon, I wouldn’t have strong hopes for holding more than a handful of seats.

    We need to stop being the ultra remainer party, and quickly. As Winston Churchill found out in 1945, after a period of vast change and uncertainty, people prefer those who look to the future rather than are linked too strongly with the war that has finished.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jan '19 - 12:54am

    Excellent from two David contributions here.

    David Becket, as ever, talks head and heart, here with the content often ignored by campaigning remain supporters.

    David Ford, good to see the terrific former leader of our really fine colleagues, friends, indeed, political family, the Alliance party of Northern Ireland, come on more, we need the perspective of you and Naomi…

  • Absolutely agree with Nigel Jones, a second referendum must be fought by “remain” as a positive, not a negative. Also, refrain from stereotyping those who voted leave as “racist”. Some were/are, of course, but I would suggest that for most it was a cry of the ignored. The risk of a second referendum is that they will still feel ignored, so the campaign needs to address this by reaching out, not being dismissive.

    For example, anyone who has used the NHS must know that it would collapse without staff from other countries but we must also acknowledge that immigration puts pressure on housing. Obvious solution is to build more houses. I’m sure the Lib Dems have a housing policy but it’s got drowned out as they are perceived as a one issue party.

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