‘Labour has to share Brexit blame’ – Cable

Western Mail - - NEWS - DAVID WIL­LIAMSON Po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor david.wil­liamson@waleson­line.co.uk

LABOUR car­ries “equal re­spon­si­bil­ity” with the Con­ser­va­tives for the way Brexit has un­folded, ac­cord­ing to Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Vince Cable.

Mr Cable will be in Plaid Cym­ruheld Ceredi­gion to­day as Welsh Lib Dems work to win back the seat the party lost last year by 104 votes.

Ac­tivists in the ex­plic­itly pro-EU party are gath­er­ing for their au­tumn con­fer­ence in Aberys­t­wyth, just as the Prime Min­is­ter pre­pares for crunch Brexit talks. Mr Cable still hopes that the UK’s de­par­ture from the EU can be avoided and he does not hold back in his anal­y­sis of Labour’s lead­er­ship on the is­sue.

He said: “They carry equal re­spon­si­bil­ity with the Gov­ern­ment that Brexit has been al­lowed to progress in the way it has. [Labour’s] com­plete fail­ure to cam­paign prop­erly in 2016 was a ma­jor con­trib­u­tory fac­tor and ever since they have been to­tally am­bigu­ous on how to deal with it.”

If Brexit chaos leads to a snap elec­tion and an­other hung par­lia­ment, Mr Cable has no in­ten­tion of do­ing a deal with Labour.

“We wouldn’t be par­tic­i­pat­ing in a Labour-led Gov­ern­ment in West­min­ster un­der the cur­rent Labour lead­er­ship,” he said. “We are in a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent po­si­tion, not just on Brexit [but] on a whole swathe of other things, par­tic­u­larly eco­nomic pol­icy. So, we’re not plan­ning on the as­sump­tion of be­ing part of a Cor­byn-led coali­tion, I can as­sure you.”

He de­scribes Mr Cor­byn’s party as a “fun­da­men­tally un­sta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary so­cial­ist lead­er­ship and a much more sen­si­ble par­lia­men­tary group and a more mod­er­ate voter base” and pre­dicts that “it can’t sur­vive in its present form”.

His frus­tra­tion is not lim­ited to Labour’s han­dling of Brexit. The for­mer Busi­ness Sec­re­tary gives a scathing as­sess­ment of the UK Gov­ern­ment’s “silly” de­ci­sion not to back the Swansea Bay Ti­dal La­goon and in­sists the “bat­tle isn’t over”.

He sus­pects the pro­ject was op­posed by “peo­ple who don’t be­lieve in global warm­ing” and ac­cuses gov­ern­ment of “eco­nomic van­dal­ism”.

He said: “We want the whole is­sue re­opened. We think the depart­ment – my old depart­ment – dealt with it very badly. The eval­u­a­tion was shoddy, it was poor pro­fes­sional stan­dards, and those peo­ple who have looked at it re­alised that it was back of the en­ve­lope, it wasn’t pro­fes­sional; they seemed to have made up their mind they wanted to shoot it down.

“And they didn’t just shoot it down but they wasted years that could have been used to get this pro­ject ready, so we are very keen that it should be re­opened on both eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds and we will ma­jor on sup­port­ing it.”

Mr Cable, a for­mer chief econ­o­mist for Shell, came to UK-wide at­ten­tion with the scru­tiny he pro­vided as the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of a decade ago un­folded.

To­day, he warns that the con­se­quences of a hard Brexit could be as dam­ag­ing as the events of that time.

He said: “The metaphor I al­ways use is the dif­fer­ence be­tween a slow punc­ture and a blow-out. There is still the risk of hav­ing a no-deal Brexit which would be the equiv­a­lent of a blow-out, it would be the equiv­a­lent of a post 2008-09 crash.”

When asked if Brexit can be stopped, he said: “Yes, it will be dif­fi­cult and the odds are against it but we are keep­ing fight­ing and there is a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple who agree with us that there has got to be a peo­ple’s vote as we call it.”

Mr Cable ar­gues that the chances of a ref­er­en­dum are higher than Labour’s pre­ferred op­tion of a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

> Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Sir Vince Cable

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.