News | Published September 16 2019

Lib Dems pledge to cancel Brexit if they win general election

Leader Jo Swinson said the party would now “fight to stay” in the European Union after members overwhelmingly backed a shift in position at their party conference in Bournemouth.

The commitment will only come into force if the party commands a majority after the next general election, but still represents a significant shift in the party’s Brexit strategy.

Previously, the Liberal Democrats had backed another referendum, but said, in any case, they would campaign to Remain.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Swinson said she would continue to fight against a “dangerous” no-deal Brexit before an election is called.

"We still want to have a People's Vote. We've been arguing for that for the last three-and-a-half years - [to put] the Brexit deal to the public in a referendum,” she told the Today programme.

“When we have an election, if we haven't had a People's Vote, people will be looking to resolve the issue of Brexit, and there are so many people in this country who are so sick of hearing about it."

The shift comes as some Labour Party members are also set to push for a more unambiguous anti-Brexit stance at their party conference in Brighton this weekend.

More than 80 constituency motions demanding a Remain position have been submitted ahead of the conference.

However, this shift in policy has been met with some criticism from within the party. Norman Lamb raised concerns about this new Brexit direction, telling the Today programme: "If we take this to the very limit in a situation where one side is vanquished entirely, I think there's a real danger that we break the social contract in our country.

"And I think that we all have a responsibility of reuniting the country in a common endeavour."

The Liberal Democrats have seen their number of MP’s bolstered in recent weeks, with Sam Gyimah becoming the latest former Tory to join the party. 

Other recent high profile defections to the Liberal Democrats include Sir Philip Lee, Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna.

Boris Johnson has been defeated in the House of Commons twice in his push for a snap general election. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which was bought in by the coalition, requires two-thirds of MP's to vote for an early vote. 

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Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
September 16 2019

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