Sir Vince Cable ‘missed key Commons vote to attend meeting on new anti-Brexit party’
Sir Vince Cable missed a crucial vote on Brexit in the Commons this week because he was holding talks on the creation of a new centrist party, it has been claimed.
The Sunday Times reports that the Lib Dem leader was attending a private dinner to discuss the idea of setting up an anti-Brexit party when he missed a vote on the customs bill that passed by just three votes.
An insider told the paper: “Sir Vince recognises that the centre ground has been all but abandoned by the two mainstream parties and was interested in exploring the idea of a new party.
“He is not implacably opposed to the idea but wanted to be reassured it will actually get off the ground.”
Sir Vince and his predecessor, Tim Farron, came in for heavy criticism when they missed a vote on an amendment to the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill lodged by the European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptics.
Speaking earlier this week, he said it was the “wrong call” to have missed the vote in order to attend a “confidential political meeting somewhere else”.
In an interview this week with the Sunday Times, Sir Vince said he was preparing his party for a “radical” shift.
“There are large numbers of Labour MPs and quite a lot of Tories who are just bitterly alienated by their own people,” he said. “I can’t see [how] the present system can be kept going. In the new year, new groups may emerge.
“I’m not sure who, or how they’ll be configured. But I predict it is going to happen and my instincts are that if they’re aligned with us on basic values, we can work with them. And that’s what I am campaigning for.”
The paper also reports that the former business secretary’s leadership of the Lib Dems could be called into question later this week. A spokesman for the party leader declined to comment.