Lib Dems ‘playing with fire’ by pledging to revoke Article 50, says MP

Norman Lamb pictured this month at his home in Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Norman Lamb pictured this month at his home in Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

A Lib Dem MP has criticised the party's new stance to revoke Article 50 if it wins a general election - claiming a failure to compromise has led to rise of Farage and Johnson.

Sir Norman Lamb said that his party was "playing with fire" by pledging to stop Brexit without a second referendum.

Speaking to Radio 4 Today, Lamb said: "I don't feel, personally, that there enough people out there trying to find ways of reuniting the people in our country and I think that the polarisation that we are seeing is actually incredibly dangerous. I think we are playing with fire in many ways."

Lamb recently joined a group of cross-party MPs campaigning for a Brexit deal alongside independent MPs and Labour MPs.

He referred to the indicative votes held in April when MPs failed to find an alternative to Theresa May's Brexit deal.

He said that as "most Remain MPs didn't vote for those" this was what helped Farage's party win the European elections, and Johnson the Tory leadership election.

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He continued: "I think the refusal to compromise at that point in a way opened the door to Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson to then prosper.

"I think we've got to be careful what we wish for, if we take this to the very limit in a situation where one side or the other is vanquished entirely then there is a real danger we break the social contract in this country.

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"I think we all have a responsibility to find ways of reuniting the country in a common endevaour."

His concern was echoed in the Lib Dem conference hall.

Former deputy leader of the Lib Dems Simon Hughes who has told conference that the party could be portrayed as "extremists" by rivals.

Sunderland councillor Niall Hodson told delegates: "The thing that is most alarming about this is it strikes me as an undeliverable promise.

"You may remember as Liberal Democrats, we've had one of those before."

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, however, insisted it was the right approach for her party and said a second referendum was still part of their Brexit policy.

"We still want to have a People's Vote - we've been arguing for that for the last three and a half years where the Brexit deal will be put to the public in a referendum."

She added: "When we have an election, if we haven't had a People's Vote, people will be looking at that election to resolve the issue of Brexit and there are so many people in this country who are also sick of hearing about it. They want to get on with their lives and they want the government to get on with making their lives better."

Norman Lamb recently announced plans to stand down as the Lib Dem MP for North Norfolk at the next election.

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