Vince Cable: Anti-Brexit parties should have joined forces for European elections

Posted On: 
26th April 2019

Vince Cable has admitted his “regret” that Remain parties will not be fighting the EU elections on a united front.

Vince Cable at the Lib Dems EU election in Wapping, London
Credit: 
PA Images

The Lib Dem leader said voters who oppose Brexit would have expected the pro-EU factions to stand together at next month’s poll.

Change UK, the party formed by ex-Labour and Tory MPs, has ruled out a formal pact with the Lib Dems and Greens, who also oppose Brexit.

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But speaking as he launched his party’s election campaign, Sir Vince insisted the Lib Dems were the “strongest” option for those wishing to elect Remain-supporting MEPs.

He said: “I do have a couple of regrets about these elections.

“The first is that we’re not standing on a common platform with other Remain parties to stop Brexit.

“It’s true the Brexit parties are also divided, but we should be standing together. The millions of people in this country who want to Remain would expect us to stand together.

“It hasn’t happened the Liberal Democrats made it very clear we were happy to work with others, it wasn’t reciprocated, and we’re going our own way.

“As the strongest Remain party we will do well, but it is a pity, I regret we are not doing the combined campaign.”

Sir Vince also expressed hope that Change UK will eventually come on board for a Remain alliance after the European elections, despite a leaked memo detailing the new party’s plan to steal its voter base.

Responding to the BBC, Sir Vince said: “I think it was unfortunate we had the publication of that document from Change UK. My understanding is they’ve disowned it, I hope so because I think there are millions of people in the country who are craving an alternative to the extremes...

“I think it’s unfortunate we’re not working together in this election but beyond that I think it will happen.

“We shouldn’t allow ourselves or allow other people anyway to be obsessed by what Sigmund Freud once called the narcissism of the small differences.”

Speaking to PoliticsHome, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake added: “I understand they’ve had a few hiccups in relation to their candidates which we’ve not had, and I think that reflects the fact we’re an established party and they’re not.

“But on this one issue of Brexit we do work very closely together so, not withstanding the public statements that are perhaps made for political reasons, in practice, behind the scenes there is a very, very active campaign which has MPs from all the political parties except the DUP involved with it to try and secure a People’s Vote.

“Whatever the outcome of these elections I’m sure that commitment will continue.”