Sir Vince: Remain parties should not be fighting each other in European elections

Sir Vince Cable speaks at the People's Vote Rally. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Sir Vince Cable speaks at the People's Vote Rally. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

It would be better if Remain-supporting political parties 'were fighting together under the same banner' in the forthcoming European elections, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable has said.

Sir Vince acknowledged there was 'not a great deal' of difference between his party's message to the electorate and that of new party Change UK, which will stand on a pro-EU platform calling for a second referendum.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'So, there's a variety of different parties offering the same message, something which is possible under the proportional voting system that we have.'

He added: 'No, it's not crazy, I mean it would be better, I think, from the point of view of the supporters of British membership of the EU if we were fighting together under the same banner, and certainly that's something we would like to have seen, but that wasn't possible, we didn't get a positive reaction to that, so we are going on our own.'

The Lib Dems have announced their candidates for the impending May 23 elections, campaigning for another EU referendum and to remain.

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Sir Vince said: 'People out there who've seen this argument polarised would probably have preferred us to fight under the same banner and certainly that's something we would have wanted.'

Sir Vince argued the Lib Dems were the 'strongest and best organised' of the Remain parties while he was focused on the local elections.

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He added: 'We're not absolutely sure that European elections will happen, of course the government is going to try to get a deal though that seems (a) rather forlorn hope.'

On Labour's stance, he said it should be making itself a party of Remain, but added: 'I find it difficult to see they could do that given that Jeremy Corbyn has said repeatedly he is there to deliver Brexit, but it certainly would change the nature of the argument.'

Sir Vince called for 'proper televised debates' in any campaign, adding that party leader debates would be 'sensible'.

He said: 'When the campaign is launched in May, then we would want it to be taken seriously by the media, have proper televised debates for example and for a genuine test of opinion on what people think about Europe and the potential for a referendum.'

He added: 'Given the importance of the subject and the extent to which the country has been mobilised on it, it would be sensible that we now had a proper debate and I'm certainly up for that.'

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