Lib Dems split on revoking Article 50 as Norman Lamb says it 'will leave half the country angry'

Posted On: 
10th September 2019

Senior Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb says Jo Swinson’s plan to revoke Article 50 will leave half the country “angry and feeling that the social contract has been broken”.

Norman Lamb was critical of his party's move to back revoking Article 50
PA Images

He was critical of his party leader, who came out today saying she intends to fight the next election on an explicit anti-Brexit pledge.

She said: "Whenever the election comes, our position is clear and unequivocal.

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“A majority Liberal Democrat government would not renegotiate Brexit, we would cancel it by revoking Article 50 and remaining in the European Union."

But speaking at a meeting of MPs who back leaving the EU with a deal, Mr Lamb said he was “obviously concerned” at the shift in policy.

He said: “If it came down to a choice between revoke or no-deal I may well end up voting for revoke because I think the consequences of no-deal are so serious, that’s why I’m here promoting an alternative approach that avoids those dire consequences.”

But he added that either way you would “end up with one half of the country or the other angry and feeling that the social contact has been broken”.

Adding this was why he had joined “MPs for a Deal”, saying: “That’s why I want to avoid that situation.”

At the same meeting in Parliament there was also anger at the Labour Party’s movement towards backing remaining in the EU in all circumstances.

Veteran MP Kevin Barron said it “would be deeply damaging in seats like mine”, calling it “ill-thought through”.

He said it was fine if they wanted to change the policy in a manifesto for a new election, but as their MPs were voted in on a 2017 manifesto calling for the referendum result to be respected “people expect you to stick with it”.

Speaking alongside him was Labour colleague Emma Lewell-Buck, who said she would rather back no-deal than a further extension of Article 50.

She said: “Failure to deliver, either with a deal or without a deal, will lead to the complete erosion of our democracy.”