Lib Dem deputy leader doesn’t rule out party propping up Tories for a People’s Vote

Ed Davey appears on the Andrew Neil show. Photograph: BBC.

Ed Davey appears on the Andrew Neil show. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

The deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats has drawn criticism after suggesting they could work with the Tories to secure a People's Vote.

Despite leader Jo Swinson ruling out putting either the Tories or Labour into power, Ed Davey has suggested that the Lib Dems could work with a minority Tory government "issue by issue" if it secured a People's Vote.

Speaking on his BBC programme, Andrew Neil told Ed Davey: "The only way you get a second Brexit referendum is with a Labour government".

Ed Davey replied: "No - the most likely result is probably a minority Tory government, we can argue about that but just accept it for a second.

"Boris Johnson says he wants a deal on Brexit, the only way he could do that is with a people's vote.

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"[The Lib Dems] would challenge him and work with others."

When asked by Neil whether the Lib Dems were counting on Boris Johnson to get a People's Vote, Davey replied: "Not only - who knows what is going to happen."

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The Liberal Democrat manifesto states the party will revoke Article 50 on their first day in government if they form a majority, so the decision to state they would support a minority Conservative government and push for a confirmatory referendum seems at odds with their decision to not support Labour in forming a coalition.

The Labour party is proposing to negotiate a new deal, before putting that back to the people in a 'final say' referendum.

Davey continued: "We don't want to put and we won't put either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn into No10, we disagree on Brexit and many other things. Whoever is in a minority government, we would vote issue by issue based on the Liberal Democrat manifesto."

Neil then told Davey that in order to get a second referendum the Lib Dems would need to keep Labour in until they have negotiated a new deal.

"Well not if Boris Johnson was willing to do what he says he's going to do. If he wants to deliver Brexit and he doesn't have the vote - the only way he's going to do that is to get a People's Vote.

"What is he going to do if we stop him?"

Neil suggested that at that point the prime minister would probably hand over government to Labour.

BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said there had been a "clear pivot" in the Lib Dems' general election campaign to downgrade their ambitions.

Davey's comments were criticised by left-leaning Twitter users who saw it as a sign the Lib Dems could lock Labour out of Number 10.

Dawn Foster tweeted: "The Lib Dem policy is to revoke Article 50 and remain, Labour's is a second referendum.... and Ed Davey says the Lib Dems will rely on a minority Tory govt to deliver a Labour policy? They really are open about rerunning the 2010 coalition, aren't they."

Sinan Kose said: "So... People's Vote with Labour is a leave position, but is a totally acceptable thing to do with the Tories. Yet more proof that the Lib Dems are not an anti-Tory vote."

Eoin Breathnach wrote: "What this says to me is that the Lib Dem strategy is to go into coalition again with the Tories on condition of getting a second referendum. How long they would stick even to that condition is anyone's guess".

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