Vince Cable: Brexit will be a 'disaster' like Iraq and the financial crash
Vince Cable has claimed that Brexit will be as big a "disaster" as the Iraq War and the financial crash.
The Lib Dem leader made the comments as he vowed that his party will continue to fight against the UK's departure from the European Union.
In his first conference speech as Lib Dem leader, Sir Vince said Brexit was "a fraudulent and frivolous campaign led by two groups of silly public school boys reliving their dormitory pillow fights".
But it was his decision to link it to Iraq and the banking crisis which is likely to provoke criticism.
He said: "Anyone who doubts the relevance of the Liberal Democrats should reflect on the three great disasters perpetrated by the two main parties in recent years: the war in Iraq; the banking crisis; now Brexit.
"You may remember that the Labour government, egged on by the Conservative opposition, plunged this country into a disastrous, illegal war. It helped to fuel the jihadist movements which terrorise the Middle East, and our own country, and our allies, to this day.
"Then, the same government lost control of the economy. It allowed reckless and greedy bankers to run amok. Yet again, the Conservatives egged Labour on, demanding even less restraint.
"The Liberal Democrats warned that it would end badly. And it did. An economy built on banking and property speculation was left dangerously exposed to the global financial crisis. And the baleful consequences are still with us: our economy continues to be dependent on the life support system of ultra-cheap money, which is now inflating a new credit bubble."
Sir Vince added: "Quite simply, Brexit Britain will be poorer and weaker than if we had decided to stay in Europe. Brexit was described by the Brexit Secretary himself as an operation of such technical complexity that it makes the moon landing look simple.
"I have to say it is a pity that the Brexit landing is being managed by people who would struggle to get their heads around a toddlers’ Lego set."
The Lib Dem leader repeated his party's pledge to hold an EU referendum on the terms of Theresa May's Brexit deal.
He said: "This is not a call for a re-run. This is not a call for a second referendum on Brexit.
"This is a call for a first referendum on the facts. When we know what Brexit means, the people should get the choice: The Government deal or an ‘exit from Brexit’."
Sir Vince said it was a time for "political adults" of all parties to work together to fight Brexit..
He said: "There are sensible grown-ups in the Conservative Party and Labour party and the Greens. And beyond them are millions of people deeply worried about what is happening.
"We have to put aside tribal differences and work alongside like-minded people to keep the single market and customs union, essential for trade and jobs."
And he called for "fierce tax penalties" to be imposed on foreigners who buy UK property as an investment but then leave it lying empty.