Lib Dems ‘dropped ball’ on vote absences

Former party leader Tim Farron
Photo: PA / Andrew Matthews

Former party leader Tim Farron Photo: PA / Andrew Matthews - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A former Liberal Democrat leader has been forced to apologise after missing a key Brexit vote in the House of Commons.

Both previous leader Tim Farron and current boss Sir Vince Cable were absent for the government-backed amendments to Theresa May's Chequers proposal.

One of the amendments was passed in favour of the government by just three votes.

Now Farron has been forced to admit the party got it wrong. He told BuzzFeed: 'We clearly called it wrong, as did Labour. I take full responsibility for my part. The Tories don't deserve any luck, I'm so sorry I inadvertently granted them some.'

Farron was speaking at an event in Sherbourne about how he can be both a liberal politician and an evangelical Christian – a position which led to him standing down after last year's general election.

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The Liberal Democrats are the only party openly calling for a second referendum which makes the absences even more embarrassing.

A party source said Sir Vince was at a meeting away from parliament that had been agreed by the party whips.

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'Tim is right, we did drop the ball a bit,' the source added. 'We obviously remain completely committed to being anti-Brexit and we are the government's only true opposition on leaving the EU.'

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