A top Lib Dem has admitted that the House of Commons was edging towards a People’s Vote when the election was called. Former Tory MP, turned Change UK, turned Lib Dem, Heidi Allen, told the Evening Standard the numbers were almost there for a People’s Vote.
“You can argue we were nearly there, getting the necessary MPs over the line for a second referendum,” she said. “The numbers were getting better and better every day.
“Even MPs like David Gauke (Tory ex-minister) who we never thought would say it, were saying this [a referendum] is the only way out of it. Now we will never know.”
We will never know, of course, because Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson pulled the plug on the cross- party opposition cooperation that was denying Boris Johnson the election he was demanding.
Allen, who last month joined the Liberal Democrats, is in charge of their tactical voting drive with the Greens and Plaid. “This is the election that came too soon, before Brexit was resolved, and this is literally all we have left in our armoury. A trade deal in less than a year is just not possible, so the threat of no deal is very much alive,” she said.
Under deals brokered by Ms Allen, the Greens will give the Lib Dems a clear run in 43 constituencies, including Wimbledon, Chelsea & Fulham and Bermondsey & Old Southwark. The Lib Dems have stepped aside in Dulwich & West Norwood and in Brighton Pavilion to boost the Greens.
What she can’t or won’t say is that the only route to Remain is through Labour’s pledge to hold a People’s vote and the key to that is persuading Lib Dem supporters not to waste their vote in Labour-Tory marginals.
So thanks Heidi, but you’re telling us what we already knew.
By Don Brind - Former BBC political correspondent