EXCL: Calls for Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd to lose party whip over support for Brexit deal

Posted On: 
19th November 2018

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd is facing calls to have the party whip withdrawn over his support for Theresa May's Brexit deal, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Stephen Lloyd has come under press from party activists after pledging to support the Prime Minister's Brexit deal

The Eastbourne MP is facing pressure from leading party activists after he pledged to support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal when it is put before Parliament next month.

Dozens of Liberal Democrat members, including serving councillors and parliamentary candidates, have signed an open letter calling for Mr Lloyd to lose the whip over his opposition to the party’s calls for a second Brexit referendum.

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The letter, which has now attracted over 70 signatures, said members were “dismayed” with his decision.

“The Prime Minister's deal offers nothing that could be construed as a liberal, or Liberal Democrat, policy position when it comes to our future relationship with the European Union,” 

“It strips the EU citizenship that was the birthright of millions of our citizens in a vast raid on individuals' rights, and shuts off the four freedoms, endangering people's livelihoods across Britain. Nobody has been able to put this damaging deal to the people either at an election or through a people's vote, and nobody therefore has a direct mandate to support it.

“This is the most important issue of this political generation: we do not believe that those who actively vote for an illiberal deal at the end of an isolationist process can be seen as acting in any way within the wide spectrum of beliefs that our party seeks to contain.

The letter concludes: “It is with sadness but resolve that we therefore call upon the parliamentary party to suspend the whip from Stephen Lloyd.”

But Mr Lloyd, whose constituency voted Leave in 2016, refused to back down from his position.

He told PoliticsHome: “I campaigned and publicly debated for Remain during the 2016 referendum, and still believe that remaining within the European Union is in the best interests of our nation.

“I also made a promise during the campaign that I would not support calls for a second referendum, and would support the final negotiated deal the Prime Minister brings back to the Commons. And as my constituency Eastbourne knows, when I give my word to the town I keep it.”

Liberal Democrat MPs are set to meet on Tuesday to thrash out their formal response to Mrs May's deal with the party expected to vote against the plan when it comes to Parliament in December.

But Norman Lamb, the party’s MP for Leave-voting North Norfolk, has so far refused to comment publicly on how he is intending to vote.

Cllr Zoe O’Connell, one of the leading signatories of the letter, told PoliticsHome: "Supporting this deal does not respect the result of the referendum, because what is proposed fails to deliver on the desperate promises made by the Leave campaign.

"If those promises can not be fulfilled, then the democratic thing to do is to remain - and the best way of verifying that this is the will of the people is, right, now, a People’s Vote or a general election."

Ms O’Connell, who also serves as a vice-chair on the party’s Federal Conference Committee, added: “Unquestioningly supporting any deal delivers on neither of those and lets down those who campaigned for the Liberal Democrats.”

A party spokesperson refused to comment on whether Mr Lloyd would lose the whip but added: “The Liberal Democrats are fighting to give people the power to stop Brexit through a People’s Vote. We are proud to have consistently led the campaign for this since the 2016 referendum and more and more people are now standing with us.

"Theresa May’s deal is a mess and not what the public were told they were voting for – the people must be given the final say on this deal."