‘Labour has to share Brexit blame’ – Cable
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