UK Politics

Vince Cable: I'm up for cross-party coalition on Brexit

Vince Cable and Tim Farron Image copyright EPA
Image caption Sir Vince Cable and Tim Farron: The Lib Dems' future ... and the past?

Sir Vince Cable says there is a "tactical opportunity" for MPs of all parties to work more collaboratively against a so-called hard Brexit.

The ex-business secretary, currently the only candidate to be Lib Dem leader, says he aims to work with like minded MPs on "a day to day basis".

He says some Conservative MPs are unhappy about the party's current links with the DUP.

Not all Labour MPs are happy with Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit stance, he says.

Sir Vince spoke out as more Lib Dem MPs including Tom Brake - a former deputy Commons leader - ruled themselves out of the party's leadership campaign.

Asked by BBC Radio 4's Today programme if his main task as a potential Lib Dem leader would be to work with MPs from other parties on Brexit, Sir Vince said: "I think that's a very good description of the tactical opportunities, as opposed to the big, strong, long-term strategic picture.

"There's a very strong disaffected group within the Conservative Party - they are keeping their heads down at the moment - but I think they are very worried about the way their party's going."

'Not counting chickens'

He said former Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna's - unsuccessful - amendment to the Queen's Speech to keep the UK in the single market and the customs union showed cross-party concern about Brexit policy.

On whether he would lead a coalition in the Commons to influence the Brexit negotiations, Sir Vince said: "We're seeking to work with them and we will work with them on a day-to-day basis - and you saw some evidence of that last week.

"There's a need in Parliament at the moment to be much more collaborative - people in the Tory party, Labour Party, also nationalists - see real dangers now ahead in this hard Brexit option the government's pursuing.

"On a day to day basis, I think there will be a lot of collaborative working and I'm certainly very much up for that."

Theresa May has said the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean "not leaving the EU at all".

She said Brexit offered huge opportunities to build a Britain "that is more global and outward-looking. A Britain alive with possibilities."

She said it was time to "respect the decision of the British people" to leave the EU.

Sir Vince, meanwhile, said he was "not counting chickens" that he was a guaranteed replacement for Tim Farron, who steps down as Lib Dem leader this summer.

Other hopefuls have until 20 July to put themselves forward. Sir Vince said: "There's a process, and other people could come forward - I respect it. At the moment I'm a candidate - I'm by no means the leader."

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