Opposition parties accuse Lib Dems of 'giving up' on People's Vote

PUBLISHED: 14:12 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:28 28 October 2019

Sir Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Liberal Democrat MPs Sam Gyimah and Layla Moran, on stage during a People's Vote rally. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Sir Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Liberal Democrat MPs Sam Gyimah and Layla Moran, on stage during a People's Vote rally. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

A war of words has broken out between opposition parties and the Lib Dems after Jo Swinson signalled support for a general election rather than continuing to push for a second referendum.

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the Liberal Democrats of "giving up" on a second referendum, after its conference focused on revoking Article 50, and the party called for a December general election.

He tweeted: "Stunt by the Lib Dems and SNP this morning looks like it's come a cropper with Johnson stealing idea for own purposes.

"The Lib Dems and SNP may have given up on a People's Vote. We haven't."

He added: "It's the only way to resolve this issue and stand any chance of bringing country back together."

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, said Swinson was ignoring the marchers last weekend.

She wrote: "A million people didn't march last weekend for a general election - they wanted a people's vote."

Change UK leader Anna Soubry criticised the Lib Dems in an email to supporters.

She said: "They have, in my view, turned their back on the People's Vote, wrongly claiming there is no majority for it in Parliament. I am sorry to say that old style, selfish, tribal party politics is at play"

Independent MP and former Tory Guto Bebb said a People's Vote was still the "best, most democratic, way to solve this crisis and provide a lasting settlement."

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He added: "MPs should not be bounced into an election before we've some straight answers from Boris Johnson about what he's really up to".

People's Vote campaigner Alastair Campbell said there was no reason for the Lib Dems and SNP not to continue fighting for a second referendum.

He tweeted: "It is literally only a few days ago that Lib Dem and SNP were saying we were days away from winning a confirmatory referendum on any deal.

"Nothing of substance has changed. It was and is there to be won."

But the Lib Dems defended their stance, insisting the party still wanted a second referendum.

MORE: Chairman at People's Vote accused of launching 'wrecking ball' through campaign

Chuka Umunna told Sky News: "The only way we can stop Brexit in this parliament is through a people's vote, referring this issue back to the people.

"But it is quite clear now that it's highly unlikely that, in this current parliament, we are going to be able to achieve that.

"We've put down 17 amendments in this parliament to provide for a people's vote, we've voted for it seven times which is the number of times it's been put before parliament - and we've never hit the numbers."

Leader Jo Swinson tweeted in reply to McDonnell's comments saying she would not take lectures from Labour on a second referendum.

She wrote: "In the last 10 days I've addressed a #PeoplesVoteMarch and tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech that would have given us a People's Vote. Your leader did neither. Don't lecture me about fighting for a People's Vote."

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