Jo Swinson’s Lib Dems have a new pact with the Tories. And it beggars belief. In the first significant phase of a so-called ‘remain alliance’, the party will stand aside for pro-austerity Tory rebel Dominic Grieve.
First elected as MP for Beaconsfield in 1997, Grieve served in David Cameron’s cabinet as attorney general from 2010 to 2014. The Lib Dems’ pact with such people suggests the party has not changed since it served in formal coalition under Cameron.
Boris Johnson pushed Grieve out of the party for his refusal to back a no-deal Brexit in parliamentary votes. Grieve now sits as an independent. But his voting record will be difficult to shake off. The Beaconsfield MP backed severe austerity measures, the Iraq war and the bedroom tax.
New Tory in the ranks
On 6 October, former Conservative cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell joined the Lib Dems. Despite being elected as a Conservative, the move is Dorrell’s second defection after joining Change UK earlier in 2019.
Dorrell was health secretary in John Major’s government in the 1990s. This new recruit further blurs the lines between the Lib Dems and the Tory Party.
Stopping Jeremy Corbyn
On the face of things, the Lib Dems’ new deal with Grieve is about Brexit. But there also appears to be a pro-establishment dimension to the alliance. For instance, Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone recently said point blank that he’d prefer a no-deal Brexit to a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. That’s right: he’d take a Tory-administered no-deal Brexit where the government’s own impact assessments warn of food disruptions over a short-term Corbyn-led government to bring about an election.
A BBC presenter asked him:
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If no-one else does emerge and the choice that you face is between Jeremy Corbyn as PM or a No Deal Brexit, then your position is … You’re a pro-European party, you’re anti-No Deal, so where do you stand?
In response, Stone said:
It is no-deal every time. Like I said, I cannot possibly support him.
Labour’s shadow secretary for Scotland, Lesley Laird MP, commented:
Jamie Stone has let the mask slip. Despite the spin about being a new and invigorated party under Jo Swinson, they are the same party that inflicted austerity on the country and they are now willing to inflict a No-Deal Brexit on the country.
Labour has been saying for months that the LibDems would rather a No-Deal Brexit than for Jeremy Corbyn to become interim Prime Minister
Indeed, Stone’s remarks appear to reflect the Lib Dems’ overall Brexit policy. The party still refuses to back an interim Corbyn-led government, despite that being the only way for the opposition to bring about a general election while controlling its time frame. There are fears that if Johnson schedules the election he could use the timeframe to force through no-deal.
Nonetheless, the Lib Dems are continuing to prioritise protecting the establishment over oncoming climate catastrophe, austerity (which they helped deliver) and even Brexit. They cannot be trusted, full stop.
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