Vince Cable rules out Liberal Democrat electoral pact with Labour

The former Busines Secretary said the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister was 'so remote' as to not be worth discussing

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Sir Vince Cable has ruled out the idea of the Liberal Democrats forming an electoral pact with Labour, saying that "the prospect of the Labour Party holding the balance of power, or getting into power are so remote" that the subject is not worth talking about.

Sir Vince, a key Liberal Democrat figure in the previous coalition government is standing again in his old seat of Twickenham, and told the Today programme, the party’s main objective is to win "a substantial bloc of seats" that would enable them to call for a second referendum of even another general election.

Sir Vince said: "We respect the will of the people, we accept the result, but it’s the nature of what happens now that is at issue. Having a substantial block of MPs, we will be able to hold the government to account.

"There are two plausible outcomes in two years time. One is that we get a very very bad deal in two years time. The other is that we get no deal at all and we finish up crashing out of the European Union with disastrous economic consequences, and if that is the case there needs to be a strong party in parliament that is willing to say no, this is not acceptable, and this issue needs to be reopened."

Asked if that meant calling for a second referendum or a general election, Sir Vince said: "Yes. There are a variety of options. But the key point is if there’s a very substantial group of us in parliament we will have those options and we don’t at the moment."

But Sir Vince ruled out any possibility of a deal with Labour that could keep the Conservatives from power.

"There is no prospect of us having an electoral deal with the Labour Party but we vote with individuals and with parties on issues," Sir Vince said. "On Europe our party voted with Ken Clarke and obviously there are like minded Labour MPs. As legislation goes through parliament, the so called Repeal Act, our colleagues will work with other parties.

"I think it is so utterly remote to believe that Jeremy Corbyn could become Prime Minister even in coalition or without. It is hard to see how any coalition could be formed.

"The prospect of the Labour Party holding the balance of power are getting into power are so remote we shouldn’t be talking about that prospect. Our objective is to get a substantial block of MPs into power so that we effect the Brexit outcomes."

The Liberal Democrats have hovered around the 11 per cent mark in the polls for a long time, but have won several council by-elections with overwhelming swings towards them. There are currently seventeen Conservatives in remain voting constituencies in which the Liberal Democrats finished second. In other areas they will hope to take seats from Labour, not least in Vauxhall, which voted by 79 per cent to remain, but is represented by Labour eurosceptic Kate Hoey.

Sir Vince said: "2015 was a terrible election for us, despite my colleagues making a contribution in the coalition. We want to set the record straight and win back the seats that we lost."