Sir Vince likens party's campaign to stop Brexit to opposition to Iraq war

PUBLISHED: 11:25 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:34 26 April 2019

Sir Vince Cable during the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for European elections. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Sir Vince Cable during the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for European elections. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable has told party activists at the party's European election campaign launch that their campaign to stop Brexit is very similar to Charles Kennedy's opposition to the Iraq war.

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Sir Vince said unlike other anti-Brexit parties the Lib Dems have the determined army of volunteers standing against Brexit.

The Twickenham MP said it should be remembered that the Lib Dems had been against Brexit from the start, even though they stood alone.

He said: “Without the Liberal Democrats, the campaign to stop Brexit wouldn't have got off the ground.

“We are proud to work across party lines to stop Brexit but it bears remembering that when we started, we stood alone.

Sir Vince Cable during the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for European elections. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireSir Vince Cable during the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for European elections. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

“In parliament, it reminded me of Charles Kennedy's opposition to the Iraq war. We were barracked on all sides but we stood steadfast anyway.

“As with that tragedy, millions have now come round to our point of view and a clear majority of the public now supports a People's Vote.”

Sir Vince said the Brexit negotiations have been “a national humiliation” over the past three years as “promise after promise of the Leave campaign has been found wanting”.

The European elections were just the latest sign of Brexiteers' “dismal failure... to have any common plan about what Brexit should mean”, he will add.

Sir Vince said he had tried to get other Remain parties to pull together but regrettably, he said, other parties had not joined him so the Lib Dems would instead campaign alone.

He said: “I've got a couple of regrets about this referendum and the first is that we're not standing on a common platform with other Remain parties to stop Brexit.

“It's true that the Brexit parties are also divided but we should be standing together - the millions of people in this country who voted Remain would expect us to stand together.

“It has not happened ... it was not reciprocated so we're going our own way, but it's a pity.”

He explained his other regret was that the EU election would happen so close to the council elections, but he expected a strong local result to buoy the party in its EU campaigning.

He denied that the European Parliament election would be a proxy for another EU referendum, saying a People's Vote would still be needed because “that's the only way of resolving the issue”.

He continued: “The EU elections will give us a sense of how people feel about it but they won't give a clear answer to that question.”

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