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Cable: I regret there’s no joint ticket for Remain in the EU elections

A leaked memo from Change UK said there would be ‘no mergers, pacts or alliances’.

Sir Vince Cable during the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for European elections (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Sir Vince Cable during the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for European elections (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has said he regrets failing to pull together a Remain coalition.

Speaking at an event to launch his party’s EU election candidates in Wapping, east London, Sir Vince said he would have been happy to campaign alongside other parties, including new pro-Remain party Change UK.

But, with a leaked memo from Change UK saying there would be “no mergers, pacts or alliances”, Sir Vince said 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.”

FT analysis has suggested a Remain alliance would win 16 seats, but fighting separate campaigns the Lib Dems would win seven and Change UK none.

Writing in the Evening Standard, the Liberal Democrat leader added Change UK had thrown away a chance for up to 16 MEPs to be elected if the Remain parties had formed a united front.

Sir Vince said he believed going it alone was not the best choice, despite a leaked memo revealing Change UK was plotting to wipe out the Lib Dems and replace them at the next general election.

“While my own tribe might be happy to vanquish the other tanks on our lawn, nobody is so tribal that they believe seven to be a larger number than 16,” he said, adding: “Failure to co-operate in first-past-the-post general elections could be even more damaging.”

Answering questions at the event, Sir Vince denied 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 added: “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.”

When asked by the Press Association whether the Lib Dems were a party of the establishment seeking to block the democratic will of the people, Sir Vince said he was not leading a “fringe protest party”.

He said: “We’re a serious party, if that’s what you mean by saying we’re a party of the establishment.

“I’ve been in government, I’ve been a cabinet minister, so to that extent we’re not just a fringe protest party.

“We’re a serious party with something serious to say and something serious to offer and we’re not embarrassed about that.”

PA

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