What should Vince say to Theresa?

So Theresa May is going to be meeting with party leaders tonight and over the next few days to find a way forward on Brexit.

Which party leader is best qualified for facing her down on daft ideas? Our Vince sparred a lot with her when they were in Cabinet together. She hated immigration. As business minister, he saw its benefits and fought for student visas. 

Obviously he’s going to tell her she needs to put this back to the People and she needs to rule out No Deal, but if you were Vince, what would you be saying to her?

On the News Channel this evening, he said that he would talk to May out of courtesy and a general willingness to talk to other people. But we are sticking to our position on the issues we’d expect.

He also said that Corbyn would have to back the People’s Vote or be sen as the hand maiden of Brexit.

I asked on Twitter what Vince should say to the PM:

I’d pay good money to see this (but only after the Brexit stuff is sorted)

And then the People’s Vote run by AV:

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • You have to first remember that most Brexiteers feel we have the whip hand over the EU, they still spout the ‘They need us, more than we need them” rubbish, only the experience of a hard Brexit would cure some off them, the rest are beyond rationality. May plays to that audience. I would even say she shares many of their delusions, given this be polite but don’t give any ground, they won’t give any to you. The talks will fail she is just looking to spread the blame.

  • Roger Billins 16th Jan '19 - 9:38pm

    I fear there will never be a majority in Parliament for Ref 2 because of the implacable opposition of Corbyn. I joined the Liberals in 1974 because of their pro Europe credentials and am an individual member of ALDE but an fearful of a horribly devisive second referendum. There is a majority in the HOC for Norway plus and that’s what we should offer. It would put us on the outside of the European concentric circles which the European Parliament is developing and it would not be difficult to move to an inner circle at some stage.

  • Richard O'Neill 16th Jan '19 - 9:53pm

    One thing I do hope, in this time of crisis, is that they all try and lower the temperature rather than raise it. Westminster is just full of people making shrill demands and laying down red lines. If the outcome (Brexit or remain, whatever arrangement emerges) is to have any hope of working, a broad consensus needs to be built around it.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Jan '19 - 10:42pm

    No coalition.

  • @ Roger Billins
    “There is a majority in the HOC for Norway plus and that’s what we should offer”.

    What evidence do you have on which to base your claim that “Norway plus” commands a HOC majority? And, if true, why should the Lib Dems offer this? What would be the point?
    We will have to see over the coming weeks whether a HOC majority emerges for any alternative form of Brexit – but I won’t hold my breath! It is increasingly likely that, after all other options have finally been eliminated, the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ will be the last remaining hope to break the parliamentary deadlock.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Jan '19 - 10:53pm

    Gove was winding up and included some inaccurate information about Lib Dems.
    When Paddy Ashdown was leader he would float various ideas, and the press would treat the leader as speaking for the party although he was out there on his own.
    Be careful what you wish for. A third referendum now is necessary because of the narrow result of the 2016 referendum.
    She has commented on the closeness of the referendum which created the Welsh Assembly with limited powers.
    I understand from a Welsh Lib Dem that a further referendum in Wales was needed to increase the powers of the Assembly, with Welsh Lib Dems spending all their money on this referendum, leaving nothing for campaigning in other elections. He said it was worth it.

  • David Becket 16th Jan '19 - 11:18pm

    It was a fair point from Gove, there was a tme when we favoured a referendum. To many we give the appearance of inconsistency on this and some of our more damaging decisions in coalition. One reason why we are so low in the polls.

    If a majority could be found for a Norway type solution it would be very damaging for us to be responsible for defeating it.

  • Yeovil Yokel 16th Jan '19 - 11:43pm

    “What should Vince say to Theresa?” – my reply would be unrepeatable, but my advice to Vince (not that he really needs it) is not to trust her, ever.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Jan '19 - 8:01am

    @ David Becket,

    It was a cutting jibe. And one that can be watched on Sky News, the Daily Mail website etc.

    In true tory style of divide and rule, Gove first praised Dr Cable as a man he respects then made a lacerating comment about the party he leads. One that will have a resonance that overshadows more serious less, witty contributions from our politicians.

    I don’t know which was the most damning, his praise for your leader or the Vicky Pollard jibe.

  • John Marriott 17th Jan '19 - 9:28am

    Rudd v Rayner on Politics Live yesterday was an augury of what was to come between May and Corbyn later on. As for what Sir Vince should have said to that “bloody difficult woman”, I assume that ‘the People’s Vote’ featured prominently. I just wish that Corbyn would have been more magnanimous; but perhaps others in the Labour Party might be more obliging. Mind you, given the experience of 2010 to 2015, caution might be good advice to those who take up the invitation. But, as Churchill said about dealing with Stalin; “If Hitler invaded Hell I would at least make a good reference to the Devil in the House of Commons”. Apologies if I didn’t get his words quite right.

  • Really it is all going rather well, much better than could have been anticpated only 2 months ago. Sadly we have to face the reality that we aint going to make any electoral gains from all this, UKIP will be the main beneficiaries, hence the Corbyn line.

  • If Theresa May really believes it is “time to put self interest aside” and “put the national interest first” she has to totally rule out a no-deal Brexit immediately. Otherwise all she is doing is trying to copy the failed tactics of David Cameron – desperately avoiding facing down the rag bag of contradictory self interest groups in her own party, by getting someone else to do it for her.

    Brexit is a problem of the Conservatives’ own creation and having totally failed in her role as prime minister to bring her party with her, ignoring all others and deliberately running down the clock, she must stop pretending it is everybody else’s responsibility to save her. She wanted the job and she has to face up to the consequences.

    Until she stops putting self interest first and dumps the Brexit at any cost fanatics in her own party, it will remain clear that she is not prepared to put the National interest first but just wants someone else to bail her out.

    Anything else is just pure self interest.

  • David Evans 17th Jan ’19 – 10:42am
    If Theresa May really believes it is “time to put self interest aside” and “put the national interest first” she has to totally rule out a no-deal Brexit immediately.

    Agreed! However, it’s even worse than that; she has refused to budge on her red lines which makes progress impossible.

    I want to remain and would welcome another vote but, as there will be more than just an IN/OUT ballot are we sure that ‘IN’ would win it? The ‘Norway plus’ option with it’s ‘neither in nor out’ might well be acceptable to Labour and to many Tories and maybe even the SNP (as Norway has made sympathetic ‘advances’ to an independent Scotland)…

    After over two years we are still no nearer the answer to the UK’s place in the world.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Jan '19 - 8:41pm

    What should Vince Cable say to Mrs May?

    Unless you take no deal off the table there is no point in discussion.

  • Andrew Melmoth 17th Jan '19 - 9:41pm

    Is it the Lib Dem position that ‘No Deal’ should be ruled out and then we should have a second referendum in which ‘No Deal’ is an option? Asking for a friend.

  • “If Theresa May really believes it is “time to put self interest aside” and “put the national interest first” she has to totally rule out a no-deal Brexit immediately.”
    [David Evans 17th Jan ’19 – 10:42am]

    Actually, if she really wanted to put the national interest first, she would have:
    1. Reorganised her cabinet directly after the Conservative MP’s confidence vote, appointing those who are also able to put the national interest before party. Remember, the convention is that if the leader wins the vote the party can’t submit another no-confidence motion within a year…
    2. Withdraw our A.50 notice of withdrawal.
    3. Ignore the howls of faux outrage from the Conservative party.
    4. Start delivering to the British people on those things (other than Brexit) she spoke of when she first stood on the steps of No.10 as PM…

    So it really quite obvious what Vince should say to Theresa: get a backbone…

    As for Brexit; I’m sure Nigel won’t say no to the opportunity to pocket another 5 years MEP’s salary…

    Unfortunately, I suspect in the real world, we won’t get anything finalised until just before the clock strikes the hour…

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