The new leader of the Liberal Democrats on Brexit chaos, Tim Farron's mistakes and political dealsby Alex Dean / August 10, 2017 / Leave a comment
“Clearly we don’t know what the world will be like in five, ten years’ time.”
I asked the new Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, if his party would ever consider going into coalition again. His response was shocking.
“Our overall stance is to try and be constructive and work with other people.” The MP for Twickenham continued. The Lib Dems couldn’t “under current circumstances” work with either Labour or the Tories—but Cable refused to rule out a deal long-term.
The Lib Dems’ decision in 2010 to join forces with the Conservatives is thought to have badly damaged their electoral standing, but Cable was steadfast: “I personally think the coalition did a lot of good, and think a lot of people now recognise that.”
I met Cable one afternoon in early august at Twickenham’s United Reform Church, ahead of a surgery with his constituents. He is looking to steady the ship after his party’s dire showing in June’s general election, and had harsh words for his predecessor, Tim Farron. He “got distracted in the first week of the campaign,” which “meant we didn’t get a hearing at the start.” The party’s haul in the end was 12 MPs—an improvement on the previous tally of nine, but a major disappointment for a Lib Dem hierarchy which had gambled on sweeping the anti-Brexit vote.
In July, following a heated row about his stance on LGBT issues, Farron resigned. Cable’s main rival for the leadership, the much-younger Jo Swinson, announced she would not stand and Cable took the helm. Having served as Business Secretary between 2010 and 2015, he had sold himself on his wealth of experience.