Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has clashed with a former Tory minister for suggesting his party may not back Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Former home secretary Amber Rudd, appearing on Politics Live, told the pro-European that he should have originally backed a soft Brexit which Theresa May proposed.
She explained: “I’m very very sad that the Lib Dems, and more importantly Labour who had far, far more MPs and could have really made a difference, chose not to back a deal. And worse than that they frustrated – Keir Starmer particularly – the possibility of having a deal the Conservative that was running the country [Theresa May] and Labour could support as well.
“And many Labour MPs, some who are no longer in parliament, expressed their regret now.
“And the Lib Dems position as far as I understand it is they would not support any deal, and they continue to have that position. And that just means we have ended up with no deal, but there are lots of people who are responsible for when we are now.
“The fact that the last parliament that I was unable to resolve a deal that would have been better for the economy I think is really sad.”
Defending his position, Ed Davey responded: “You and I have agreed on the fact that Brexit is bad for our country and you were very good in leading the fight against Brexit so you and I both share a lot in common in knowing how bad this is for our economy and our security as you rightly point out.
“But let me be clear, Liberal Democrats will read the deal and treat it with respect but I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask us to vote for a bad deal for our country.
“We’re in a crisis for our country – a health crisis and jobs crisis – we need a deal that is going to help people and help business in such dire straits. And if we had a responsible prime minister who is putting the country first, where he finds it and not just appealing to ideological Brexiteers then I really think he really will be putting barriers up for trade and up for creating jobs.
“We will treat the deal seriously, but we’ll measure it in those terms.”
Rudd told the MP: “But you know there’ll be no third deal. There’s either a deal, and by your definition a bad deal, and you won’t vote for it – or no-deal. And you may wish for a third deal… but it just doesn’t exist.”
Davey, however, insisted that “no-deal is always avoidable” and that the EU would not want that outcome and could have allowed an extension to continue negotiations in 2021.