Lib Dems double down on '˜exit from Brexit' vote pledge

The Tories are 'breaking Britain' in order to get immigration down, former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is saying.

Jo Swinson MP makes a speech during the second day of the Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Mr Farron will use a speech at the party’s conference today to accuse Labour of a “cowardly connivance” with the government over the UK’s EU withdrawal.

It follows a hard-hitting speech by the party’s deputy leader Jo Swinson that claimed Brexit was a marker of the return of the “politics of the bully”, saying “Faragey, Trumpy, angry, arsey, shouty, slogans aren’t a solution to anything”.

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Ms Swinson used her speech in Bournemouth to demand the UK government revoke an invitation for a state visit to Donald Trump, who she accused of being “a bully, a misogynist and a racist”. Lib Dem activists yesterday voted to confirm party policy in favour of a referendum on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal, described by party leader Vince Cable as a “referendum on the facts” and “an exit from Brexit”.

Outside the conference centre in the seaside town, pro-EU campaigners held a march demanding Brexit is reversed, which was addressed by a Boris Johnson impersonator.

Today Mr Farron is expected to say: “Britain’s exit from the European Union is making my country poorer, less safe and it is damaging the future of our children. There is one promise that Brexit will fulfil. It will reduce immigration without changing a single law. Because if you turn Britain into a poorer, meaner, insular place, no-one in their right mind will choose to come here.

“So, the Tories are breaking Britain to repel the immigrants. And they do it with Labour’s shameful connivance. What a disgrace. You can be a Corbyn or a May and change your mind on Europe to suit the weather, too afraid of the people to ever deserve to lead them.

“Leadership requires courage, not cowardice. We stand between two parties led by cowards and leading Britain to disaster.”

Meanwhile, the Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael condemned last year’s EU referendum result as “a vote against the 21st century”.

At a fringe event, Mr Carmichael compared Brexit with nationalism in Scotland and with President Trump’s populist message.

“This is politics, and the Brexit vote was as much as anything else a vote against the 21st century,” he said.

“It was against the reality that so many, especially our younger people, have grown up with and understand.”

Mr Carmichael said building barriers and reinstating lines on the map was “nonsensical” in a globalised world.