A top Lib Dem has admitted that the House of Commons was edging towards a People’s Vote when the election was called. Former Tory MP, turned Change UK, turned Lib Dem, Heidi Allen, told the Evening Standard the numbers were almost there for a People’s Vote.
“You can argue we were nearly there, getting the necessary MPs over the line for a second referendum,” she said. “The numbers were getting better and better every day.
“Even MPs like David Gauke (Tory ex-minister) who we never thought would say it, were saying this [a referendum] is the only way out of it. Now we will never know.”
We will never know, of course, because Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson pulled the plug on the cross- party opposition cooperation that was denying Boris Johnson the election he was demanding.
Allen, who last month joined the Liberal Democrats, is in charge of their tactical voting drive with the Greens and Plaid. “This is the election that came too soon, before Brexit was resolved, and this is literally all we have left in our armoury. A trade deal in less than a year is just not possible, so the threat of no deal is very much alive,” she said.
Under deals brokered by Ms Allen, the Greens will give the Lib Dems a clear run in 43 constituencies, including Wimbledon, Chelsea & Fulham and Bermondsey & Old Southwark. The Lib Dems have stepped aside in Dulwich & West Norwood and in Brighton Pavilion to boost the Greens.
What she can’t or won’t say is that the only route to Remain is through Labour’s pledge to hold a People’s vote and the key to that is persuading Lib Dem supporters not to waste their vote in Labour-Tory marginals.
So thanks Heidi, but you’re telling us what we already knew.
By Don Brind - Former BBC political correspondent
A top Lib Dem has admitted that the House of Commons was edging towards a People’s Vote when the election was called. Former Tory MP, turned Change UK, turned Lib Dem,...
In a piece for The Guardian, Sir Simon Jenkins makes very heavy weather of the obvious point that this, like most other elections, turns on the question of identity as well as economics. The Brexit plebiscite of 2016 was an anti-immigration vote - the posthumous revenge of Enoch Powell. Every referendum in European nations this century (bar two small ones) with the EU on the ballot paper has been rejected by voters.
Most countries picked themselves up, dusted away the xenophobia, and changed their rules or got the EU to change its rules and moved on. Only in Britain did we turn an anti-immigrant plebiscite into the psychodrama of "Brexit means Brexit" from Theresa May, unedifying fence-sitting from Corbyn and now the preposterous claim from Johnson that Brexit can be done by this time next year, instead of the inevitable Brexiternity of scratchy, difficult negotiations with 27 sovereign states to try and solve issues from city access, Japanese car firms in the UK, French fishing workers and Gibraltar, to British expats losing health care rights.
In talks across Europe I ask audiences how their countries would have voted in a so-called Europe referendum focused mainly on immigration or the claim that 79 million Turks would soon arrive. They all reply they would have voted as we did. So do we turn Europe into a loose grouping of nervous nelly nation states hiding behind protectionist national borders? That is what Presidents Trump and Putin want as well as other authoritarian leaders like Xi and Modi. Or do we change our rules so as to manage immigration better and reduce the prime cause for the Brexit vote?
The numbers of Europeans leaving Brexit Britain, as they are made to feel unwelcome, is rising fast. They are being replaced by African and Chinese immigrants. Might it be better to re-write the rules of the UK internal labour market so that like other EU member states we know the number of foreign workers inside Britain, can send home those that don't find work after 3 months, and train up young Brits to be doctors, nurses and other medical staff, as well as skilled craft workers, rather than rely on EU substitutes? All this and more can be done under EU laws and rules.
It is neither the politics of identity nor economics that matter, but rather a willful refusal by the Labour Party, trade unions and left think-tanks to outline labour market reforms that lessen the tensions over the volume and velocity of arrivals from the continent this century which led to the Brexit vote.
By Denis MacShane - former Labour Minister of Europe. His latest book is “Brexiternty. The Uncertain Fate of Britain” (IB Tauris-Bloomsbury)
In a piece for The Guardian, Sir Simon Jenkins makes very heavy weather of the obvious point that this, like most other elections, turns on the question of identity as well...
The Germans have a word for the pleasure I felt when I read the verdict from pollster YouGov that “Since becoming Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson’s detractors have grown at a faster rate than her fans” - it’s schadenfreude. It means “pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.
Her performance in the Leaders Question Time programme won’t have changed You Gov’s findings.
In a recent post, I accused Swinson of letting down the Remain cause by colluding with Johnson in giving him a General Election and breaching the opposition alliance which could have forced a People’s Vote.
I said she was putting party before country, hoping to exploit the then 20% poll ratings enjoyed by the Lib Dems.
Imagine my pleasure than to find in the recent New Statesman poll tracker that over the past few weeks the Lib Dems have drifted down by about 5% while Labour has climbed by a similar number.
But, of course, the Labour advance had not matched the Tories who still enjoy a healthy lead.
Schadenfreude is, however, a private vice. In the big picture, my pleasure at Swinson’s misfortune is tempered by the knowledge that the Remain cause needs the Lib Dems to do well in certain places and tactical voters hold the key to whether Johnson can be denied an overall majority.
The Lib Dems have abandoned Swinson’s hubristic claim that she could become Prime Minister and thus be able to revoke article 50. Swinson’s deputy, Ed Davey, now says the most likely outcome of the General Election was a minority Conservative Government and in that the Liberal Democrats would offer Boris Johnson a referendum on his Brexit deal.
It may seem a bit odd to make that offer to Johnson when Labour’s central offer is the People’s vote. We could fall back on the Lib Dem’s record in the Clegg-Cameron government; bedroom taxes, student fees and the rest and declare all-out conflict as some in the party do.
Here, I’m a bit more sympathetic to the Lib Dems. They clearly calculate that in Tory seats that they hope to win being pally with Labour would hurt them. So my message to Swinson in these Tory-LibDem constituencies is Good Luck.
By Don Brind - Former BBC political correspondent
The Germans have a word for the pleasure I felt when I read the verdict from pollster YouGov that “Since becoming Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson’s detractors have grown at...