Vince Cable: Lib Dems will not back fresh Labour bids to topple Theresa May amid Brexit talks row

Posted On: 
17th January 2019

Vince Cable today refused to back Labour in any further bids to topple Theresa May as he accused Jeremy Corbyn of playing “political games” on Brexit.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable sparked a row with Labour
Credit: 
PA Images

The Lib Dem boss lashed out at the Labour leader over his refusal to enter into talks with the Prime Minister to find a compromise, after the deal she clinched with Brussels was rejected by MPs.

Mrs May last night offered to talk to senior parliamentarians, including Mr Corbyn, in a bid to find a consensus on Brexit that the Commons can support.

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She held out the olive branch after defeating a motion of no-confidence in her government tabled by the Labour leader in his attempts to trigger a general election.

But Mr Corbyn refused to meet with the PM unless she takes the threat of a no-deal Brexit off the table - which she has refused to do.

Sir Vince - who held talks with Mrs May last night - echoed Welsh party Plaid Cymru, which said it would not back any further no-confidence motions from Labour unless Mr Corbyn joins the talks.

“Since he appears to be determined to play party political games rather than acting on the wishes of his own members and MPs, he will no longer be able to rely on our support for further no confidence motions,” the former business secretary said.

“I believe other parties are taking the same view. It’s time Mr Corbyn got off the fence and made his position plain.”

A Labour source shot back: “The Lib Dems propped up the Tories for five years, so it's no surprise they're still committed to keeping them in power.”

But a Lib Dem source insisted the party would bring down the Government if a realistic opportunity arises, as they urged Labour to back a second Brexit referendum.

"We would love the opportunity to take down the Conservative government," they told PoliticsHome. "But we are not just going to play along with Jeremy Corbyn as he tries to avoid Labour party policy with spurious attempts at unwinnable no-confidence motions.

"If he gets behind a second referendum we will be with him and if there's a real opportunity to take down the government then we will support it."

At its conference last year the Labour party agreed that it could back a second Brexit referendum if it is unable to trigger a general election.

'PHONEY'

At a speech in Hastings today, Mr Corbyn argued the attempts by the PM to reach out on Brexit were a “stunt” and a “phoney” attempt to build a compromise.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “The PM set out last night she was disappointed with the response of the leader of the opposition but that our door remained open and that is still the case.”

Labour figures also criticised the decision by the Labour boss, with former Prime Minister Tony Blair and prominent backbencher Chuka Umunna urging him to change tack.