Conservatives and Labour could both split over Brexit divisions, Vince Cable says

'You may well find that if this crisis continues for much longer then both of the traditional parties do split', Liberal Democrat leader says 

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Friday 29 March 2019 19:07
Comments
Vince Cable predicting a potential split between the Labour and and conservative parties

The Conservatives and Labour could both break apart in the coming months because of internal divisions over Brexit, Vince Cable has said.

The Liberal Democrat leader said that for the first time in his lifetime he believed there was a real prospect of splits because Tory moderates are “in a terrible state” and “hardliners” have “complete control” of Labour.

He was speaking at an IndyMinds event in central London for subscribers of The Independent.

Asked about the prospect of a possible split in the main parties, he said: “I think for the first time in my lifetime this is possible.

“In the last few days I’ve been having conversations with deep-dyed Tories – the kind of people you would never regard as wet or one-nation Tories.

“They say, ‘We’ve just had it up to here – we just cannot take any more of it. Our party’s been infiltrated by the right-wing equivalent of Momentum, we’ve been threatened in our seats, we’ve had to get legal advice.' They’re in a terrible state these moderate Tories.

“And then on the Labour side you have one desperate effort being made by [deputy leader] Tom Watson, who is a very formidable and impressive guy, to try and save the Labour Party, but even those who like him and hope for the best are pretty pessimistic because the hardliners have complete control.

“You may well find that if this crisis continues for much longer then both of the traditional parties do split, and that creates the perfect condition for something new and better.”

Sir Vince said he wanted his party to work closely with The Independent Group, which is registering as a political party called Change UK - saying it would be “foolish and shortsighted” for the two parties to field candidates against each other.

He said: “As long as I’m leader I’m keen to bring us together. There are tribal people in any organisation who won’t work like that, but I’m personally determined that as long as I’m around, we do our best to bring people together.”

He added: “We can’t compete with them or them with us because it will destroy us both. It would be an absurd thing to do because we’d simply be splitting the centrist vote under a first-past-the-post system, so they are going to have to collaborate with us.”

He was speaking hours after MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time.

Speaking immediately after the vote, Ms May told MPs it was likely that the UK would now have to seek a long delay to Brexit and hold European Parliament elections in May.

She said: “The implications of the House’s decision are grave.

“The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April – in just 14 days’ time.

“This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal, and so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

The prime minister also hinted at the prospect of a general election, warning MPs: “I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.

“This House has rejected no deal, it has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table. And today it has rejected approving the withdrawal agreement alone and continuing a process on the future.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in