Lib Dems leader heralds end of Tory-Labour duopoly and People’s Vote victory
The Liberal Democrat leader says the defections of 11 MPs from the two main parties last week mean a People’s Vote on Brexit will now happen as the only resolution to the current Westminster impasse.
Scottish party leader Willie Rennie claimed MSPs at Holyrood may follow suit and quit the Tories and Labour.
Cable was in Scotland yesterday to address the party’s spring conference in Hamilton and pledged to work with the new Independent Group of eight Labour MPs and three Tories. Another MP, Ian Austin, also quit Labour but will sit as a solitary independent after one of the most dramatic upheavals of the British political landscape in decades.
“I think it’s the beginning of a big paradigm shift,” Cable told Scotland on Sunday.
“Brexit has shaken up two big parties, caused deep divisions. We know what’s happened in the Labour Party is a combination of anti-Semitism and Brexit and extremists penetrating and driving out moderate MPs, and all the anger around that.
“Similar things are happening in the Tory party which are less visible. But we’ve had plenty of examples of people leaving Ukip in large numbers, joining local Tory parties which are predominantly small and old, and taking over, challenging moderate MPs, creating the kind of problem that Momentum caused in the Labour party.”
The UK party leader was cheered by delegates as he celebrated the demise of the old order.
“Surely we must welcome the break-up of the old duopoly of British politics,” he said.
“They’ve been there far too long and the sense of the broad church has been stretched beyond endurance in both cases.”
Rennie said he knew Labour and Tory MSPs who were “incredibly frustrated” on issues such as Brexit and could follow suit.
Cable has pledged to hold out the “hand of friendship” to the new Independent Group and believes it can help bring about a People’s Vote on Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to ease Britain’s departure from the EU has already been rejected by the Commons and there seems little prospect that her talks with EU leaders will bring about the kind of changes that will secure a Commons majority.
“She’s then faced with the question of ‘well what do you do?’” said Cable. “I think the most likely outcome is that she then looks at the odds. And the chances of her proposals getting any further involve going to the country and offering a deal like she’s negotiated or staying with the European Union.”
An amendment that is being tabled by Labour MP Kyle Wilson could provide the mechanism to bring a second referendum about.