Sir Vince Cable MP: We're indisputably the strongest Remain party & I’m calling on Remainers today to gather under our umbrella
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable writes: "I now believe the chances of stopping Brexit are stronger than ever. The polls have moved in direction of Remain, and decisively in the direction of the Liberal Democrats for today’s elections".
This has been a whistle-stop European election campaign, which the government only acknowledged would go ahead a couple of weeks ahead of polling day. It is worth remembering why these elections are happening. The tenacity of Remainers has been important but the stubbornness of Leave supporting MPs is what has been decisive. In the end, Brexiteers couldn’t agree what Brexit should look like, and as a consequence we have stayed in the European Union.
I now believe the chances of Stopping Brexit are stronger than ever. The polls have moved in direction of Remain, and decisively in the direction of the Liberal Democrats for today’s elections. These won’t be a proxy referendum – the Remain side is too fragmented for that – but every Liberal Democrat vote is nonetheless a clear vote to Stop Brexit. We are indisputably the strongest Remain party in British politics, and in this final few hours I’m calling on Remainers to gather under our umbrella.
Our MEPs, if elected, will sit with a strong liberal grouping, committed to confronting the tide of populism and xenophobia which threatens Europe, its political stability and security. Liberal Democrats will campaign in the European Parliament for a continent-wide zero emissions target by 2050, to complete the digital single market and to stand up to the big data companies whose untrammelled power can only be regulated at a European level. Staying in the European Union will mean a stronger economy, and stability for business to invest and create jobs. Leaving would mean a lost decade of further wrangling.
More and more people are lining up behind the Liberal Democrats – from Labour figures like Michael Cashman and Andrew Mackinlay, formerly neutral figures like the once neutral Gus O’Donnell, the actresses Susan Penhaligon, Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy, through to Conservatives like Michael Heseltine and Matthew Parris. These endorsements reflect what the broad range of support we are garnering around the country. I have been stunned by the number of lifelong Conservative and Labour voters dashing up to me to shake my hand, and saying they’ll vote Lib Dem this time. Supporters of the smaller remain parties are coming over to us too, recognising that we are best placed to challenge Nigel Farage.
In the closing 36 hours of the campaign, I took on the Brexit Party leader directly in a live debate – no other party leader has chosen to. What was clear was that his party has no policy at all save for an obsession with leaving the EU. His prospectus that Britain can simply crash out of the EU and ‘trade on WTO terms’ didn’t survive a second’s scrutiny. Leaving the EU to trade on WTO terms is like leaving NATO to rely on the United Nations General Assembly – hopelessly naïve. Essentially, the Brexit Party is about tearing things down, whereas the Liberal Democrats want to build up the position of the United Kingdom and Europe as leaders on the world stage.
Britain is an essentially tolerant, outward looking country, which has turned in on itself over the past three years in the heat of the Brexit debate. In truth, the Brexit people were promised is simply not on offer, and the problems that motivated people to vote for it will never be solved by leaving the EU. When the election results are declared on Sunday, wins for the Lib Dems will be the clearest sign yet that large sections of the public want the country to chart a different course.
Vince Cable is Leader of the Liberal Democrats