Where we are – Lib Dem morning briefing

The Lib Dem press office has provided an excellent summary of where we are this morning, together with the agenda for Parliament today:

Morning Newsletter
Top Lines:

Liberal Democrats remain committed to stopping Brexit, and that starts with stopping no-deal. We want a People’s Vote to stop Brexit, and in the event of a general election then every vote for the Liberal Democrats will be a vote to revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit altogether.

A vote of no confidence held right now would make no-deal more likely, not less. That is why Jo Swinson successfully argued that one should not be tabled this week.

There is no majority in Parliament to make Jeremy Corbyn an interim Prime Minister. The ball is now very clearly in Jeremy Corbyn’s court on this. He needs to put the national interest first and make clear who he would support.

Our priority this week will be getting as much information as we can about the impacts of Brexit on peoples jobs and their lives. We need more information about Operation Kingfisher, Operation Snowbunting and Operation Black Swan.

On the Conservatives

Fanatically repeating ‘Get Brexit Done’ does not give any comfort to the cancer patient worried about accessing their medication. Getting Brexit done puts lives and jobs at risk.

The Conservative Government are being cavalier with peoples’ jobs and livelihoods by pursuing their disastrous Brexit. That is why Liberal Democrats are going to force them to publish as much information as we can about the consequences of their actions, so people can see for themselves whose side they are really on.

On Jeremy Corbyn

The numbers do not add up for Jeremy Corbyn. The former Conservatives have said they will not vote for him, Anna Soubry and the Independent Group have said they will not vote for him, former Labour MPs like Ian Austin have said they will not vote for him and he cannot even guarantee all the Labour MPs would support him either.

Any conversation about an emergency Government should now focus on uniting behind a candidate who can command support in Parliament. Jeremy Corbyn should put the national interest first and make clear who he is willing to support in the event a candidate is needed.
House of Commons
Prayers [11.30pm]

Tabling Deadlines Today [12.30pm]
Work and Pensions (Monday 7 October 2.30)

Urgent Questions and Ministerial Statements [12.30pm]

Motion for approval
That the draft Common Organisation of the Markets in Agricultural Products (Transitional Arrangements etc.) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were laid before this House on 24 July, be approved.

Motion for approval
That the draft Common Agricultural Policy and Common Organisation of the Markets in Agricultural Products (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were laid before this House on 24 July, be approved.

Motion for approval
That the draft Import and Export Licences (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were laid before this House on 23 July, be approved.

Motion for approval
That the draft Pesticides (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were laid before this House on 17 July, be approved

Presentation of Public Petitions
Freewheelers’ use of bus lanes: Valerie Vaz
Westminster Hall
9.30am – 11.00am Sir Christopher Chope Legal protection for residents of park homes
11.00am – 11.30am Mr Bob Seely Improving healthcare on the Isle of Wight
2.30pm – 4.00pm Sir Vince Cable Socialcare funding
4.00pm – 4.30pm Liz KendallChild poverty in Leicester
4.30pm – 5.30pm Margot James Adult learning and vocational skills in training in the Metropolitan borough of Dudley

Adjournment Debate
Performance of South Western Railway (Caroline Nokes)
House of Lords
L. Tyler
B. Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville
B. Walmsley
B. Garden of Frognal / L. Addington
Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Combined Authority (Adult Education Functions) Order 2019 – L. Agnew of Oulton
Speaking: B. Garden of Frognal, L. Beith

Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2019 – B. Williams of Trafford
Speaking: L. Paddick

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Legal Aid for Separated Children) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2019 – L. Keen of Elie
Speaking: L. Marks of Henley-on-Thames

Over the Counter Derivatives, Central Counterparties and Trade Repositories (Amendment, etc. and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) (No.2) Regulations 2019 – L. Bethell
Speaking: B. Kramer, B. Bowles of Berkhamsted

Financial Services (Miscellaneous) (Amendment) (EU Exit) (No.3) Regulations 2019 – L. Bethell
Speaking: B. Kramer, B. Bowles of Berkhamsted

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Graham Martin-Royle 1st Oct '19 - 12:07pm

    Corbyn is a brexiteer, he always has been. So he will not move on this. To him, crashing out of the EU is acceptable, especially if he can then blame someone else.

  • Sandra Hammett 1st Oct '19 - 12:12pm

    Much talk today about Johnson’s ‘Brexit Plan’, what if he IS able to score some sort of deal with the EU and brings it to the House before October 19th.
    Are we going to agree to it provided that there will be confirmatory referendum with remain on the ballot and franchise extended to 16 year olds tied in?

  • Paul Barker 1st Oct '19 - 12:14pm

    Obviously there is lots of stuff happening behind the scenes that we cant be told about but I still doubt that a GNU can happen.
    We still have the Benn Act & The various Tory “Plans” to get round it sound like empty bluster to me.
    The Government are now briefing that there is a tremendous 3-way split in The Cabinet which they are oddly happy to tell us about. I take that to mean that Johnson is preparing to back down & ask for an Extension afterall.
    That means an Election in late November or early December, probably.
    Can we break through ? In the past few Weeks we have been taking Vote share from both Tories & Labour, currently we are around 20% or 21%, perhaps only 3% behind Labour.

  • David Evans 1st Oct '19 - 12:36pm

    I can’t help but think that too many on the Remain side are taking far too an entrenched position on who they are prepared to work with. The only important thing is the task, and that needs to be clearly planned and agreed very soon now, by intense discussions between all groups.

    Saying “I can’t work with Jeremy” or even worse “Other people can’t work with Jeremy” will just divert attention and effort from agreeing what to do and how and when to do it. At the moment it seems too many are simply painting themselves into a corner which they will trap themselves in, and I am afraid Jo is doing that with our party.

    What is needed is thinking completely outside the box and looking for new solutions, not just by parliamentarians but by people in parties outside the Westminster bubble.
    Instead of trying to make a failed model work in totally new circumstances, If the problem is who will be Prime minister, the question has to be how do we change things so who is Prime Minister does not matter, or perhaps how do we evolve the role of Prime Minister to remove those concerns.

    Having one man or woman at the top, ploughing ahead with their personal agenda, ignoring all else, is what has got the Country (Cameron), Brexit (May), and now possibly Remain into the mire in recent years. Lib Dems saw it happen to us with a Leader to whom “Showing Coalition works” (for five years) was more important than delivering Liberal Democracy in the following decades. We have to learn from the lessons of the past.

    If Remain fails, we will all be equally culpable, and all of us should be urging our leaders to look for alternatives to make it work, not for reasons to say No. In that vein, exactly How do ordinary members like me make contact with Jo?

  • Richard Underhill. 1st Oct '19 - 1:04pm

    Keep trying Jo.
    Maybe Labour MPs should have a quick election on who else they would support as Interim Prime Minister (IPM)
    Maybe the Tory 21 (Minus Sam Gyimah, now Lib Dem, plus Amber Rudd) should have a similar vote, some of them are in Manchester and calling whipped Tory MPs ‘friend’.
    Some of them (not Sam Gyimah obviously) might want the whip restored.
    Greg Clark has been voting with the government. Is there any comment on the rumour that he could be nominated as British Commissioner? (A non-job if the UK leaves the EU, but the UK would presumably retain the equivalent of an ambassador).

  • David Allen 1st Oct '19 - 1:15pm

    Bill le Breton: “We will dominate a General Election fought on Brexit. Labour will disappear from sight.”

    Nonsense. Dangerous rose-tinted specs viewpoint which only encourages wrong-headed campaigning, over-confident beliigerence over the GNU, and bad outcomes.

    Your poll merely talks about what kind of policy stances people think we and Labour adopt. It tells us nothing about how popular we are. This one does:


    and it shows us flatlining in third place, Labour flatlining in second place, and Johnson pulling well ahead as the Brexit Party fall back. That’s the real world we have to live in.

  • Geoff Whitehead 1st Oct '19 - 1:31pm

    A push for Margaret Beckett (mother of the house & Labour) as the figurehead would be a good compromise. But we need to be quick – any delay is playing into the Brexiteers hands.

  • Geoff Whitehead 1st Oct '19 - 1:35pm

    Sorry – meant Harriet Harmon

  • Paul Barker 1st Oct '19 - 1:49pm

    An average of the last 10 Polls puts Us on 21%, up sharply from the plateau of 18% that we reached after The European Elections.
    On the same basis Labour are between 24% & 25% & The Tories around 32%. It looks like we have taken Vote share from both “Main” Parties.
    The point about this is that if we gain just a few more percent then we will be level with Labour. Remain Voters are pretty evenly split between Libdems & Labour, a lot of those who are sticking with Labour only do so because Labour are bigger, once we are equal in strength, those Voters may shift.
    2 Years ago Libdems were averaging 6% in The Polls, thats how far we have come, its for us to believe in ourselves.

  • Corbyn says he won’t deal with Jo Swinson…

    Absolute outrage and cries of ‘who does he think he is?’ from LibDems

  • Alex Macfie 1st Oct '19 - 2:28pm

    At 33% the Tories’ support is far lower than the 40% at the beginning of the year, and certainly lower than it was in the 2017 election. And as Paul Barker notes, Lib Dem support is up since then — we are hardly “flatlining”.
    And don’t assume that Johnson will necessarily get an overall majority on current polling figures (that’s assuming they survive an electtion campaign — please remember that up until the day before the 2017 election, Theresa May was going to win by a landslide according to most polls). Under uniform national swing, of course there’d be a large Tory majority — but we’re not going to get uniform national swing. There will be a lot of localised swings depending on which party is campaigning strongest, and depending on whether a seat is Remain or Leave leaning. How well the Tories do will depend on how many Hartlepools they can win to compensate for the Richmond Parks they are practically certain to lose.

  • Daniel Walker 1st Oct '19 - 2:47pm

    @Geoff Whitehead

    I believe Jo has already suggested Harriet Harmon. Margaret Beckett is also a good choice, in my opinion.

  • Bill le Breton 1st Oct '19 - 3:18pm

    David Allen – what the polling that I pointed to reveals is that we OWN exit from Brexit.

    We are replacing Labour as the party of choice among remain voters.

    The near term object may be to ensure that we don’t support Corbyn if there is to be a GNU. It may be that in a scenario after a VONC we have to first vote down an administration that he seeks to win a Vote of Confidence for as the prelude to finding a majority voting confidence in an administration led by another less toxic figure.

    The Fixed Term Parliament does not preclude more than one attempt to find an administration within the two week time limit.

  • David Allen 1st Oct '19 - 4:02pm

    For all those who have trouble recognising what a flat line looks like, please take another look at the BBC poll tracker graph


    – which is, of course, viewed through the distorting lens of no political bias, but there you are!

    Sure, we gained a lot of ground after Theresa May’s failure and downfall, and that is welcome. But over the last three tumultuous months, despite all Johnson’s bad publicity, our popularity has been very static – as has Labour’s.

    Yes Bill, we own “exit from Brexit”, insofar as anyone can be persuaded that we are making useful progress towards that exit, in a way that will help anyone else to follow. Then again, Labour own “the spirit of compromise”, which might also enthuse quite a lot of voters, if only it were not pursued in such a muddled and messy way. The evidence is that neither we nor Labour own a killer policy position.

    So – perhaps we should spend less time working out how to let chaos happen and pick up a few seats in its aftermath, more time working out how to stop the chaos?

  • Alex Macfie 1st Oct '19 - 4:58pm

    David Allen: The nearest thing to a “flatline” in that graph is the plots for SNP and Plaid Cymru, but as these are regional parties that don’t even stand in most of the country, any change in support for them is not likely to have any significant impact on the graph of nationwide polling.
    What “spirit of compromise”? I think any appetite for compromise has long gone. Our poll ratings have risen since we adopted the Revoke policy. Labour is mainly relying on its tribal vote, people who vote Labour out of habit, and is therefore coasting.
    We have no interest in chaos happen. We just don’t agree that installing Corbyn as PM will stop it,

  • David Allen 1st Oct '19 - 5:39pm

    Alex Macfie, you’re right. The flatline for the SNP and the flatline for Plaid look even flatter than the flatline for the Lib Dems and the flatline for Labour. As you mention, a regional party which wins a good percentage of votes in a smallish minority of the seats is bound to record a low, flat-looking poll track record when averaged over the whole of the UK. And your point is?

  • As someone wrote in the Guardian comments page…

    “When Darth Vader was preparing the Death Star does anyone remember anyone in the rebel alliance arguing about who should lead?”

    I don’t!

  • Alex Macfie 1st Oct '19 - 5:57pm

    David Allen: My point is that we are not “flatlining” because that’s not what our graph shows.

  • Ross McLean 1st Oct '19 - 6:10pm

    I support Jo’s position re Corbyn, but I do wish she would articulate it publicly. The Labour spin (‘LibDems are risking No Deal because they won’t support Jeremy’s tireless efforts to stop it’) is utter nonsense. But it is going largely un-answered. Voters shouldn’t need to search Chukka Umunna’s facebook page for an explanation of what’s going on. We need to get our message out there.
    I’ve had Remainer friends say to me this week they’re surprised that ‘Jo Swinson is blocking Corbyn’s attempt to stop No Deal’. I’ve explained the situation, to which they all say “Aaaaah right, that makes sense. But er… why isn’t she saying that?” That’s a question I can’t really answer.

  • Paul Barker 1st Oct '19 - 6:29pm

    On Flatlining.
    Yes our average Vote share was steady around 18% for about 3 Months, then it started going up again. An average of the last 10 Polls puts us on 21%. That may represent a New Plateau or even a Peak; we wont know until we see some more Polls.

  • expats:
    The person who should lead is the one who can command a majority!!!

  • Which is nobody so we should just go to a GE and let the people decide

    Corbyn and Mcdonald are not going to support anyone in the job apart from themselves, simple as

  • David Allen 1st Oct '19 - 7:16pm

    The BBC poll tracker shows Lib Dem 19.8% as the average of the last 10 polls it records. The BBC note that this does represent a rise of “a few points” since the beginning of September, but comment that it “could just be a conference bounce”.

    So OK, it’s not a perfect flatline since July, but it’s not far off it. It certainly isn’t the Lib Dem Landslide that the true believers are fantasising about!

  • Bill le Breton 1st Oct '19 - 7:53pm

    Ross of course she is ‘saying it’ – over and over again as are her team and colleagues. You are not hearing it because it is not being broadcast. It doesn’t fit a certain narrative so it isn’t taken up.

    You keep trying and you keep looking for other ways to get it across. It is not easy. It is frustrating and with new technology and social media it is a little easier than it was 20 or 30 years ago when the only medium we often had was a piece of paper through a letter box.

  • Ross McLean 1st Oct '19 - 8:23pm

    Bill, are you sure she is saying it over and over again? Are the rest of the MPs and the press office working full-time on pushing this one message?
    I’m a fairly avid consumer of news, in all its various forms. I keep seeing/hearing Tories calling us undemocratic and Labour people saying we will be responsible for No Deal, but it has been some days now since I saw Jo or any LibDem on TV or radio setting out our position on VONC and why we won’t back Corbyn as PM, etc. As I’ve said, it’s a perfectly good, sound position, but it needs explaining, and we’re just not cutting through.
    I will certainly keep making the case to friends as well as I can, but I really could use a bit of help from the party – I think we all could.

  • David Allen 2nd Oct '19 - 12:18am

    “The person who should lead is the one who can command a majority!!!”

    Yes, but when Swinson says that can’t possibly be Corbyn, while Labour say that can’t possibly be anyone but Corbyn, where does that get us? To No Deal with Johnson triumphant?

    So – it can’t just be about the PM. It has to be about the compromise solution which can command a majority. Here are the two options, which might conceivably be sufficiently balanced to achieve an agreement from all sides, as I see them:

    (1) Corbyn as PM, but with the other parties holding a majority of Cabinet posts, so that Labour do not have single-party control

    (2) A puppet non-Corbyn PM such as Beckett, but with Labour holding the majority of Cabinet posts and calling the shots

    Which “GNU” would be better for the Lib Dems? I would suggest (1). That would be more robust and capable of staying together while riding the inevitable tide of wobblers and crises. (2) would be inferior, because the puppet premiership would soon be derided, while Labour would be tempted to use their power unwisely, thereby breaking up the temporary government.

  • David – Labour are saying tonight that they are not interested in a GNU. They want a VONC followed by a minority Labour government, with Corbyn as PM and the other parties supporting it. They have now publicly ruled out all other options.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Oct '19 - 8:43am

    Maybe Jo should rephrase her line: the LibDems will support anybody who is committed to an extension and open to remaining, provided he/she has a majority. That would cut through immediately and leave no room for misinterpretation.

  • Leekliberal 2nd Oct '19 - 10:05am

    In the discussion about Corbyn being a stand-in Prime Minister l have not heard any debate about the acceptability of his finger being on the button of our nuclear deterent. As a longtime CND supporter his unwillingness in any scenario to press it negates the deterrent entirety. As someone opposed to Trident renewal l am not that bothered about this but l am sure that many others will argue that there is no point in maintaining the nuclear deterrent if it cannot be used

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Oct '19 - 10:48am

    @ Leakliberal,

    I think you might find that Ken Clark in the Observer, said that: ‘ A no deal Brexit could cause far more damage to our future economic success than a Corbyn government. There are ways that one could build in safeguards should one be fearful that this would not be the time limited, task specific role, necessary to request for an extension to article 50.

    This flayling about whilst Johnson and Co threaten the Good Friday Agreement is grotesque. And quite frankly, I would feel safer with Corbyn’s finger on the nuclear button than Johnsons.

  • Paul Barker 2nd Oct '19 - 12:07pm

    To get back to where we are, theres been a 2nd Poll putting us ahead of Labour. On the basis of the last 10 Polls the gap between Labour & Us is down to around 3%, however, if we look at the last 5 Polls that falls to around 1%. This may be a blip, we should know by the Weekend.
    On the VONC/GNU route, it looks dead to me but I never thought it was very likely in the first place.
    We still have The Benn Act.

  • David Allen 2nd Oct '19 - 1:16pm

    TonyH – Yes, Labour are being intransigent, and I don’t like that, any more than I like Lib Dem intransigence. Labour have presumably judged that they are best placed to act in an intansigent way and get away with it. Only Labour can call a VONC with any chance of success. (True, Johnson has guilefully allowed minor parties to try it on as well, but he is no doubt just hoping a minor party will make itself look silly by calling a VONC, and losing the vote very badly.)

    So what should Lib Dems do, when Corbyn calls his belated VONC? They can call it within two weeks of Brexit Day, thus relying on the threat that, if no replacement government is installed before October 31st, No Deal Brexit will assuredly happen.

    For Lib Dems to abstain on the VONC itself, or to vote for Johnson, would surely be electoral suicide, given that NDB would then happen. Unless all the ex-Tory rebels actually turned around and voted confidence in Johnson (very unlikely – they might abstain but they’d hardly vote for NDB), the VONC itself would succeed. And then, what would we do next?

    If we then refused to support a viable candidiate for PM, Johnson would then be mandated by his defeat to organise a GE, very soon after NDB Day. That would be game-set and match for Johnson, wouldn’t it?

    Of course, Labour and the Lib Dems could then each scream at the other that the intransigent stalemate was all their fault. Labour, who had at least called the VONC and provided most of the votes for it, would probably have the more plausible case in the eyes of the public.

    So, I fear the stage would then be set for either an embarassing climbdown by Swinson, or the collapse of the Liberal Democrats in thewake of failure to prevent NDB. All because we hadn’t seen early enough that we would need to be more flexible!

  • Peter Hirst 2nd Oct '19 - 1:45pm

    Does it really matter who an interim PM is as long as it prevents a NDB, extends our decision timeline and legislates for a People’s Vote with remain on the ballot paper? The details will be crucial. After all that we will need a General Election to calm the waters.

  • Peter Hirst – “Does it really matter who an interim PM…?”
    Once we get to that point, no, but first we need the VONC to actually happen and pass. That means it needs all opposition parties plus the whipless Tory and Labour MPs to vote for it. And a lot of them are saying they won’t back anything that puts Corbyn into Number 10.
    Put simply, if the VONC is linked to having Corbyn as PM, it will probably fail to pass. Jo is just recognising that reality and trying to facilitate a plan that will actually stand a chance of passing (e.g. one with Clarke or Harman or Beckett as PM).

  • TonyH 2nd Oct ’19 – 3:16pm…………………..Put simply, if the VONC is linked to having Corbyn as PM, it will probably fail to pass. Jo is just recognising that reality and trying to facilitate a plan that will actually stand a chance of passing (e.g. one with Clarke or Harman or Beckett as PM)………………..

    Ah, now it’s ‘probably’…As leader of the second largest party (and with the backing of the third largest) Jeremy Corbyn should be allowed the courtesy of trying to form an interim government.
    Jo Swinson should back him but, if he fails to get enough supprt, THAT WILL BE THE TIME to ask for alternatives. Clarke Harman and Becket have said they will not oppose Corbyn being first choice but would stand if he fails to get a majority,

    If Jo Swinson is the lone voice that opposes Jeremy Corbyn BEFORE he tries then that will be a disgrace and this party deserves all the approbation that any failure of the interim government will entail,

  • David Allen 2nd Oct '19 - 4:24pm

    The VONC doesn’t have to be “linked to having Corbyn as PM”. It can just be a VONC – About Johnson, not Corbyn. Labour can simply call a VONC without specifying what happens next. in those circumstances, we and TIG would simply look ridiculous in the eyes of the public if we failed to vote for the VONC and hence got NDB two weeks later. The rebel ex-Tories would equally look crazy if they voted for Johnson, though they might abstain. On that basis the VONC would carry.

    So then we go to the next step. Failure to find a PM who can gain the confidence of the House in 14 days means NDB (unless, perhaps, the Benn Act holds) and then a GE, to be scheduled by the VONCed PM Johnson, very soon after. So having launched the VONC, all Opposition parties would then come under intense pressure to find the replacement PM.

    As expats suggests, Corbyn should have first try (probably failing), Clarmaneckett should have second try (probably failing by a much larger margin, unless a very generous offer is made to Labour to win them over). Will there be enough time to choose Corbyn on a third try, with some safeguards to limit what his interim government can do? Not unless all sides show a lot more openness and flexibility than they have to date!

    A final thought – The one party that has made a good public showing so far is the SNP. When we get NDB on October 31st, will SNP be saying “Well, we did the best we could, while yoked into this discredited “union” called the “UK”. The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems have completely trashed the UK. We’re holding Indyref2, now, whether the English like it or not!”

  • David Garlick 2nd Oct '19 - 4:27pm

    Great to see the Agenda paper. We have lacked any attempts to let ‘the people’ know what is happening in Parliament on a day to day basis which is one reason that ‘the people’ think that very little of consequence happens there.
    On Europe… well we have beyond 100 days detailing our non links with the USA and the (blank space) on our links/ties/chains, call them what you will, with Europe.
    Makes no sense to me but please let me know what I should have known about to fill in the blank space. Always happy to learn especially about the EU.

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