A number of Conservative backbenchers have told Tim Farron they are considering rebelling from the Government line and voting against Article 50 if it is put to a vote in the Commons.
In an interview with The Independent the Liberal Democrat leader also reaffirmed his red line position that if a second referendum is not provided on the terms of Brexit, then he will instruct his parliamentary colleagues to vote against the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
But the party leader also revealed he had engaged in discussions with Labour and Conservative MPs, who had approached him voluntarily over the Government’s plans for Brexit.
“But I think there are plenty of MPs out there… I have been regularly stopped by Labour MPs telling me they wish their party was saying what we’re saying… a lot of people since the weekend. There are some senior people,” he said.
Mr Farron added there were around half a dozen Conservative MP “saying encouraging things to me as well”.
“They think our position is logical and democratic and there’s sense of great sorrow they feel they can’t do anything about it. I think there are a lot of people in the other parties, especially the Tory party who could break ranks.”
Asked whether they would vote against Article 50 being triggered in the Commons, he replied: “Oh yeah. I wouldn’t like to put a number on it but there’s certainly quite a few.”
“All these people voluntarily speak to us about these things. No one is saying we’re going to defect to the Liberal Democrats but they are pretty clear they are disappointed in their leadership.”
In the interview Mr Farron also hit out at Labour’s “shambolic” and “defeatist” stance on Article 50 - the untested protocol for a member state leaving the EU. It is widely expected that if the Government loses its appeal at the Supreme Court in January then a vote will be held in the Commons before Article 50 is triggered.
And in what appeared to be a plea to Labour MPs to bolster his position on Brexit, he continued: “If you really do care about internationalism, about Britain’s standing in the world, about prosperity, about the ability to have sufficient funds to support public services then you don’t want us in this isolated, impoverished position that we are heading towards. If you’re not up for this fight, what fight are you up for.”
What experts have said about Brexit
What experts have said about Brexit
1/11 Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
The Chancellor claims London can still be a world financial hub despite Brexit “One of Britain’s great strengths is the ability to offer and aggregate all of the services the global financial services industry needs” “This has not changed as a result of the EU referendum and I will do everything I can to ensure the City of London retains its position as the world’s leading international financial centre.”
2/11 Yanis Varoufakis
Greece's former finance minister compared the UK relations with the EU bloc with a well-known song by the Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, as the Hotel California song says, but you can't really leave. The proof is Theresa May has not even dared to trigger Article 50. It's like Harrison Ford going into Indiana Jones' castle and the path behind him fragmenting. You can get in, but getting out is not at all clear”
3/11 Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss says UK will be ‘screwed’ by EU in Brexit trade deals: “I have no faith in the politicians in London going on about how ‘the world will want to trade with us’. The world will want to screw you – that's what happens in trade talks,” he said. “They have no interest in giving the UK a deal on trade”
4/11 Tim Martin
JD Wetherspoon's chairman has said claims that the UK would see serious economic consequences from a Brexit vote were "lurid" and wrong: “We were told it would be Armageddon from the OECD, from the IMF, David Cameron, the chancellor and President Obama who were predicting locusts in the fields and tidal waves in the North Sea"
5/11 Mark Carney
Governor of Bank of England is 'serene' about Bank of England's Brexit stance: “I am absolutely serene about the … judgments made both by the MPC and the FPC”
6/11 Christine Lagarde
IMF chief urges quick Brexit to reduce economic uncertainty: “We want to see clarity sooner rather than later because we think that a lack of clarity feeds uncertainty, which itself undermines investment appetites and decision making”
7/11 Inga Beale
Lloyd’s chief executive says Brexit is a major issue: "Clearly the UK's referendum on its EU membership is a major issue for us to deal with and we are now focusing our attention on having in place the plans that will ensure Lloyd's continues trading across Europe”
8/11 Colm Kelleher
President of US bank Morgan Stanley says City of London ‘will suffer’ as result of the EU referendum: “I do believe, and I said prior to the referendum, that the City of London will suffer as result of Brexit. The issue is how much”
9/11 Richard Branson
Virgin founder believes we've lost a THIRD of our value because of Brexit and cancelled a deal worth 3,000 jobs: We're not any worse than anybody else, but I suspect we've lost a third of our value which is dreadful for people in the workplace.' He continued: "We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country"
10/11 Barack Obama
US President believes Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU: "It is absolutely true that I believed pre-Brexit vote and continue to believe post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the United Kingdom's participation in the EU. We are fully supportive of a process that is as little disruptive as possible so that people around the world can continue to benefit from economic growth"
11/11 Kristin Forbes
American economist and an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England argues that the economy had been “less stormy than many expected” following the shock referendum result: “For now…the economy is experiencing some chop, but no tsunami. The adverse winds could quickly pick up – and merit a stronger policy response. But recently they have shifted to a more favourable direction”
His comments come after John McDonnell had ruled out a parliamentary fight to block a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ and insisted Labour would rely on “moral pressure” instead.
The Shadow Chancellor used a speech on the economy to urge his colleagues to be “positive” about the “enormous opportunities” for Brexit and to give up any thoughts of delaying the triggering of Article 50.
Mr Farron added: “Despite the massive damage it [Brexit] is going to do the country – talking yesterday about being positive about Brexit. It seems quite clear to me that the leadership of the Labour party wants to move on, want to get Brexit dealt with.”
The Lib Dem leader added he would continue to push for a second referendum. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he added. “Sometimes it takes a while to get momentum behind it. We’re not pushing this to make a point, we’re pushing it because we think it’s right.”Reuse content