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The Lib Dems switching from Remain to revoke could cause a problem – Sky News, Sky.com

The Lib Dems switching from Remain to revoke could cause a problem – Sky News, Sky.com


             

As delegates raised their hands in a vote to adopt a policy of stopping Brexit altogether, it was clear the endorsement was overwhelming – the party of Remain was to become the party of revoke.

It might seem that the two “Rs” are one and the same, but in practice they’re not.

If Jo Swinson leads the Liberal Democrats to a general election victory and forms a government, the second referendum she and her party have been calling for so longwill now not happen.

    

        

                                      Jo Swinson                                                                                                                                                       
‘Our country is divided,’ says Lib Dem leader                

Their parliamentary majority, they argue, would be the mandate to revoke unilaterally Article 50, which is the legal process for leaving the European Union.

In reality, however, that is highly unlikely.

The Lib Dems have had a boost in parliament by the defection of six MPs, but their number still stands at just 18.

:: Listen to Sophy Ridge on Sunday onApple podcasts,Google podcasts,Spotify,Spreaker

To win a parliamentary majority they would need to win more than 300 constituencies that they do not currently hold.

With polling in Sunday’s Observer putting them at 16%, compared to 37% for the Conservatives, for now at least the prospect of Prime Minister Swinson seems distant.

The effect of the shift from Remain to revoke may therefore be more symbolic than substantial, but it is significant in what it says about the wider party political c ontext of the Brexit debate.

    

        

                                      Sophy Ridge On Sunday

                                                                                                                                                       

In full: Sophy Ridge on Sunday                

A few months ago, Ms Swinson’s predecessor Sir Vince Cable said shifting the party’s policy tooutright revocation of Article 50 was “tempting”, but said he still believed a referendum was the best way out of the impasse.

The main thing that has changed between those comments, ahead of the European Parliament elections, and now is the prospect of an imminent general election.

Ms Swinson’s hope is that making the Liberal Democrats’ electoral offering explicitly and unambiguously opposed to any form of Brexit, she can take votes from Conservatives aghast at the direction Boris Johnson is heading.

And, equally, from Labor voters who feel unclear where their party stands.

    

        

                                      Party leader Jo Swinson hugs her new MP Sam Gyimah                                                                                                                                                       
Moment Tory rebel was revealed as Lib Dem                

But while the vast majority of delegates in Bournemouth clearly agreed with that strategy, there were some voices of doubt.

“This strikes me as an undeliverable promise,” said Niall Hodson, a councillor from Sunderland, from the conference podium.

“You may remember as Liberal Democrats, we’ve had one of those before.

” That if we end up in a coalition – could happen – we aren’t going to be pushing through revoking Article 50.

“I mean, I hope we’ll get a People’s Vote but I don’t want to be in a position again where the Liberal Democrats have promised something and done something else.

“And I think there’s a real danger of that with revoking Article 50. “

If the ultimate aim is to win the Remain voter bloc, rather than win an election overall, an eye-catching policy pledge is an understandably attractive tactic.

But as the Lib Dems well know, bold political policies can end up causing big political problems.     

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