Sat, 19 June 2021

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By Georgina Bailey, Eleanor Langford and Kate Proctor
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Liberal Democrats will campaign to revoke Article 50, Jo Swinson announces

Liberal Democrats will campaign to revoke Article 50, Jo Swinson announces
2 min read

The Liberal Democrats intend to fight the next election on an anti-Brexit pledge to revoke Article 50, Jo Swinson has announced.

The Lib Dem leader said her party - which has long opposed Brexit - would support the cancellation of the formal process to leave the European Union.

The move would be written into the party's election manifesto if it is backed by members at the Lib Dems' autumn conference in Bournemouth, which kicks off on Saturday.

Ms Swinson told The Guardian: "Whenever the election comes, our position is clear and unequivocal. A majority Liberal Democrat government would not renegotiate Brexit, we would cancel it by revoking article 50 and remaining in the European Union."

The Lib Dems have so far shied away from formally endorsing the revocation of Article 50, the mechanism under the EU's Lisbon Treaty which kicked off Britain's exit from the bloc.

Former leader Sir Vince Cable in May urged caution amid calls from the Change UK group of MPs for Parliament to revoke Article 50.

"It wouldn't be outrageous but it would be unsatisfactory," he said. 

"We got into this mess as a result of having a referendum in the first place and that's the only satisfactory way out of it."

But a source told The Guardian that the shift would allow the party to back cancelling Brexit "in all circumstances", a decision which the party hopes will allow it to distinguish itself from Labour as the most pro-Remain political grouping. 

Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna - who defected to the Lib Dems after a stint in Change UK - said: "Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong Brexiter and will be intensely relaxed if Brexit happens - indeed, he has spent years campaigning for it.

"By contrast, the Liberal Democrats under Jo Swinson’s leadership are the UK’s biggest and strongest remain party. We are determined to do all we can not only to stop a no-deal Brexit but to stop Brexit altogether."

A public petition calling on MPs to 'Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU' garnered more than six million signatures between March and August this year, triggering a debate in Parliament.

But ministers said at the time: "This Government will not revoke Article 50. We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with Parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union." 

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