Sir Vince Cable: Jeremy Corbyn must quit if he refuses to back second Brexit vote
Jeremy Corbyn should quit as Labour leader if he refuses to back for a second referendum on leaving the EU, Sir Vince Cable declared today.
The Liberal Democrat boss said the veteran left-winger was “letting down the many people in Labour heartlands who now see Brexit for what it is”.
And he blasted Mr Corbyn for allowing others to “do his dirty work” - including "bullying" colleagues and “indulging anti-Semitic bigots”.
In his keynote address to the annual Lib Dem conference, Sir Vince also took aim at Boris Johnson - saying his “treatment of women” was akin to that of US president Donald Trump.
And he lamented that the rise of “crap” jobs brought about by the ills of unregulated capitalism had contributed to the Brexit vote.
Addressing the party faithful on the final day of their get-together in Brighton, Sir Vince reiterated the Lib Dem call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels.
He urged the Prime Minister to “shock us all” and commit to a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ so the nation has the chance to back out.
But he reserved his most damning criticism for Mr Corbyn - who he argued would find it “far easier” to “be brave on Brexit” than the Tory leader.
“This is his big chance. He used to be the campaigning backbencher who joined us in opposing the Iraq War and defending civil liberties,” Sir Vince told the seafront conference hall.
“Next week hundreds, thousands, of Labour members and MPs will demand he changes course and backs a public vote on the final deal.
“If Jeremy Corbyn will not say 'I will support a People’s Vote and I will fight Brexit,' Labour members should wave him goodbye.
“He is currently letting down the many people in Labour’s heartlands who now see Brexit for what it is.”
Sir Vince added: “In his new role [Mr Corbyn] has kept his hands clean and his image polished by hiring hard left boot boys and girls to do his dirty work.
“They do the bullying and the intimidation of colleagues and he claims not to know.
“He indulges anti-Semitic bigots and pleads ignorance. But the nastiness shouldn’t be allowed to obscure his abstention from the biggest issue of the day.”
A Labour spokesperson refused to comment - but a source noted that the Lib Dems were polling at around 8%.
'BORIS A REAL DANGER TO BRITAIN'
Elsewhere, Sir Vince took aim at Tory bigwig Mr Johnson, who he branded a Brexit “chancer” and “a real danger to Britain”.
“He doesn’t just resemble Trump – large, loud and blonde – he behaves more like him by the day,” the Richmond MP said.
“Their cynical disregard for the truth, their treatment of women, and their inflammatory divisive language make Boris and Donald the Terrible Twins of the Rabid Right.”
Mr Johnson is currently going through a divorce process after alleged fresh infidelities reportedly led to the breakdown of his marriage.
Sir Vince said other pro-Brexit figures were willing to inflict “years of economic pain” on Britain in pursuit of the “erotic spasm of leaving the European Union”.
But he called on the EU to reform - arguing the ills of unregulated globalisation, competition and liberalisation it had embraced had led to “crap jobs” in the UK which had in turn fuelled the referendum.
Elsewhere in the speech, Sir Vince said it would be “simply wrong and utterly counterproductive” to label all Brexit voters racist - despite having suggested just that last year.
He recounted the personal ordeal of being thrown out of his family home when he married his late first wife, Olympia Rebelo - a woman of Indian descent - when "racism was rife" in the UK.
But the address to party conference could be his last as Lib Dem leader, after he laid out his intention to stand down once Brexit is “resolved or stopped” - possibly as early as next year.