Saturday, December 10, 2016

Three out of nine Liberal Democrat MPs abstained on Article 50

Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Democrats have confirmed that the party’s MPs will vote against any motion which backs the unconditional invocation of Article 50
Liberal Democrat Voice announced on Wednesday.

In the event, things turned out to be more complicated than that. Only six of the nine Lib Dem MPs voted against the government motion. Three - Norman Lamb, Greg Mulholland and John Pugh - abstained.

A useful Independent article has them giving their reasons.

There's Norman Lamb:
“I don’t feel comfortable with having voted for the referendum in the first place - as we all did - and to then vote to block the triggering of the Article. 
“I think it would be inconsistent therefore for me to oppose tonight.” 
Mr Lamb also hinted at the difficulties of representing a Leave-voting constituency, adding: “I have the farming community talking to me about this.”
Greg Mulholland:
“I am not prepared to give the impression that I do not accept the result of the referendum, or that I am seeking to block it. 
“The motion clearly stated that that the result of the referendum must be respected, so voting against it could be taken as not doing so.” 
He added: “What is actually important are not meaningless gesture politics and party political games, it is working to ensure that Britain has the closest, strongest relationship we can with EU countries.”
and John Pugh:
Mr Pugh said the Lib Dems must not give people the impression “we are sore losers” or that the party wanted to “stop the negotiation process itself from happening”.

He added: “That is why we must be careful about putting any and every obstacle in the way of exploring the options.

“Even leavers will eventually realise they cannot have their cake and eat it - but trying to snatch their cake off them just now might not be the best way to persuade them.”
It seems that not all our MPs have yet signed up to the idea that we should aim to become the party of the 48 per cent.

I don't want to be too harsh here, though if the farmers of North Norfolk think they will do better out of a Tory government than they have out of the European Union, they must have been sniffing the silage.

So let me just make two points.

First, that I am more convinced I was right when, rather to my surprise, I voted for Tim Farron in the leadership election.

Second, Lord Bonkers was on to something when he wrote in his foreword to this year's  Liberator songbook:
With our clear stance on Europe – exemplified by that splendid new group ‘I’m As Much In Favour Of The EU As The Next Man But Did You See The Referendum Result In My Constituency?’ – I have no doubt that we shall return to government before we grow much older.


Anonymous said...

Can't help noticing my comments are verbatim -sam as Norman - shome mistake surely

Jonathan Calder said...

You are John Pugh and I claim my £10.

Apologies, I have given you the right quote now.

Unknown said...

Time for John ("remember, I voted against gay marriage") Pugh to be put out to pasture. The appropriately named "unknown" adds precisely nothing to Liberalism or the Liberal Democrats.