Tim Farron: Pro-EU Tory and Labour MPs should 'grow backbone' and split
Tim Farron has urged pro-EU Tory and Labour MPs to “grow a flipping backbone” and start a new centrist party which the Liberal Democrats should work with.
The Lib Dem former leader said he wanted his own party to seize the “collosal opportunity” to grab voters in the middle of the political spectrum, but touted a new outfit as an alternative.
And he questioned the rumoured proposal by party leader Vince Cable to open the Lib Dem leadership up to candidates who are not sitting MPs.
Labour MPs disheartened by the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn are said to be getting closer to the exit door, amid growing disquiet among pro-Brexit Tory backbenchers worried about their party shifting to the right.
“You see with great frustration - and I’m sure Vince [Cable] feels the same - the colossal opportunity in what I will glibly call the center of British politics, and the desperate need for us,” Mr Farron told Politico.
“I obviously want the Liberal Democrats to recover, become the next government of the country and solve all the problems,” he added.
“Alternatively, let some of these people in the Labour Party and the Tory party grow a flipping backbone and leave. And we should work with them.
“Let them form their own party, we will work with them, and we’ll try and do it together.”
The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP said a third option would be for the Labour party to adopt “a decent electable leader”.
Elsewhere, Mr Farron was cool on the suggestion the Lib Dems should change their rules to allow non-MPs to stand in leadership elections.
Mr Cable is said to be preparing a major speech next week revealing plans to step down before the next election, launch a new cheaper party membership option and allow non-MPs to bid for the top job.
On the latter proposal, Mr Farron said: “Interesting idea. It’s not one I would have put out there.”
He added: “I just think parties shouldn’t talk about the leadership too much...
“I think the idea we look at a U.S.-style primary — which would by its nature invite people into the fold who were not parliamentarians — is interesting and I wouldn’t rule it out.
“But to be fair, Vince is only just touting it as an option.”