Vince Cable to warn 'disaster looms' with Brexit in first major speech as Liberal Democrat leader

In his first speech as party leader, Sir Vince will accuse Government ministers of living in ‘a world of infantile fairy tales’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 19 September 2017 00:12
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The Lib Dems release official party video

Sir Vince Cable is to launch a scathing attack on “infantile” ministers behaving like dictators over Brexit and accuse the Government of descending into a “full scale school riot” over in-fighting, in his first major speech as Liberal Democrat leader.

Addressing the party faithful Sir Vince is expected to say that a “disaster looms” as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and reaffirm the party’s commitment to a referendum at the conclusion of the negotiations with Brussels in 2019.

Despite the remarkably similar vision for Brexit as his predecessor Tim Farron, the 74-year-old former Coalition cabinet minister is also expected to stamp his own brand on the party, offering an alternate vision in a series of policies in his keynote speech.

His speech comes after he made the bold claim that it is “perfectly plausible” that he could become the next Prime Minister due to the “remarkable state of flux” in British politics.

Referring to the deepening divides at the top of the Conservative party in recent weeks, he will add: “And now, thanks to Boris Johnson, they have degenerated into a full-scale school riot with the head teacher hiding, barricaded in her office.

“Brexit was described by the Brexit Secretary himself as an operation of such technical complexity that it makes the moon landing look simple.

“It is a pity that the Brexit landing is being managed by people who would struggle to get their heads around a toddlers’ Lego set. They live in a world of infantile fairy tales.”

Highlighting the Foreign Secretary’s decision to firmly stand by the widely discredited referendum claim that Britain will be £350m better off a week after Brexit, he will say: “That claim has rightly been dismissed by the UK Statistics Authority. No wonder Boris and the Brexiteers are so afraid of the people, and the facts.”

“They now believe in the slogan of dictators everywhere, ‘one person, one vote, once’.

But addressing delegates in Bournemouth, Sir Vince will also issue a plea to “political adults” in all of Westminster’s parties, adding: “We have to put aside our political differences and work alongside like-minded people to keep the single market and customs union, essential for trade and jobs.”

Sir Vince will also criticise Jeremy Corbyn over his party’s stance on Brexit, claiming that if the Labour leader “sits on the fence any longer he is in danger of being sliced up by the middle serrated edge”.

“Then a few weeks ago the moderates briefly penetrated the Corbyn bunker. They persuaded him that collaborating quite so closely with the class enemy didn’t look too good.

“So, they have a new policy: to stay in the single market and customs union, possibly; or to leave, maybe. Or maybe to stay in for a bit, and then leave.

“I am trying to be kind here: I am trying to understand what they are trying to say. I think the current line is, we should transition to the transition gradually while we prepare for a post-transition world.”

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