Tim Farron tells centrist Tories: Defect to the Lib Dems or lose to us at next election
Tory MPs disillusioned by their Government’s “pig-headed” approach should defect to the Lib Dems, or face losing their seats to the party at the next election, Tim Farron has said.
The Liberal Democrat leader said Tory MPs are now “the cheerleaders of a government that is as anti-refugees as Nigel Farage”.
Addressing delegates at his party’s spring conference in York, Mr Farron cited the defeat of former Tory Zac Goldsmith to Lib Dem Sarah Olney in December as a warning to Theresa May.
In a message to moderate Conservative backbenchers, he said: “You now backing an agenda that is the opposite of what you signed up for.
“You are trooping through the lobbies voting for this stuff.
“And you know it’s wrong, so for pity’s sake, have some self-respect. Defect or resign.
“If you don’t then when the next election comes we will do to you what we did to Zac Goldsmith.”
Mr Farron also took aim at leave backing politicians within Labour, such as Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart, who he said made him “more angry” than Ukip.
Accusing the wider campaign of “xenophobia, chauvinism and nationalism”, he said: “I have always been more angry with Labour MPs like Gisela Stuart or Kate Hoey than Nigel Farage.
“At least Ukip are open about it. But the Labour MPs who campaigned for Leave knew what they were signing up for – or they should have.
“And there were many more – Jeremy Corbyn included – who were indifferent rather than anti.
“That indifference was there for the world to see during the referendum campaign and it quickly became official Labour party policy afterwards."
He added: “This is my message to Labour: The Tories are destroying your post-war legacy while you are busy destroying yourselves.”
THERESA MAY 'SHOULD FEAR' LIB DEMS
The Lib Dem leader also took a swipe at the “populist” SNP, joking that they are unable to offer the same challenge to the Conservatives at an election unless they field candidates outside Scotland.
“Theresa May should fear the Liberal Democrats and the three-quarters of voters who don’t want Brexit at any cost, he said.
“Because here’s the thing, we are the only party that can deny Theresa May a majority at the next election.
“The SNP can’t. They can only take one seat off the Tories… unless Nicola Sturgeon adopts an aggressive foreign policy. Maybe that’s next week’s populist bombshell?
“Labour won’t take any seats off the Tories because… well, do I really need to explain?
And that means that the only route to the Conservatives losing their majority is a Liberal Democrat one. We can gain the seats to rob the Tories of their power to wreck Britain.”