Tom Watson brands Lib Dems 'Brexit deniers' over second referendum call

Posted On: 
25th November 2016

Tom Watson has branded the Lib Dems "Brexit deniers" over their threat to vote against the triggering of Article 50 unless the Government agrees to a second EU referendum.

Tom Watson says the Lib Dems are 'Brexit deniers'
PA Images

The Labour deputy leader accused Tim Farron of wanting to "ignore the verdict of the British people - but that's only because the British people are ignoring him".

He will launch his attack in a speech to members of the Labour First campaign group in Birmingham tomorrow.

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Mr Watson will say: "I know some people feel that politicians who campaigned against Brexit are still trying to stop it happening, ignoring the clear decision the British people made back in June. I have to say those fears aren't completely unfounded. 

"The Lib Dems are desperately, openly, shamelessly trying to recover some sort of electoral relevance by coming out as Brexit deniers. They talk about using a vote in Parliament to stop the Government triggering Article 50. They say they will do their best to block it, come what may. 

"I can see why it’s attractive to Tim Farron, as the leader of a party on 8%, to want to be the party of the 48%. That can never be an option for a party like Labour, that wants to represent everyone."

The Labour MP will again stress that his party will not seek to block Article 50, something Jeremy Corbyn appeared to suggest earlier this month.

"We will press the Government hard on the terms on which we leave the EU in order to achieve a settlement that benefits us all," he will say.

"But effective scrutiny isn't the same as blocking Brexit. We're never going to apologise for holding the Government's feet to the fire. But nor we will ignore the democratic will of the British people. 

"Unlike the Lib Dem Brexit deniers, we believe in respecting the decision of the British people. To do any less is to fail to respect the British people themselves.

"In 2011, after the referendum on voting reform, Tim Farron said he accepted the result because he didn't want to come across a sore loser.  So what's so different this time?  

"I think the answer is obvious. It's because it is politically expedient for him to do so. Tim Farron wants to ignore the verdict of the British people - but that's only because the British people are ignoring him."

A Labour source said: "For voters in our heartlands, the slightest suggestion that politicians might try to stop article 50 being triggered is outrageous. And we need to hold on to our heartlands."