Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and his predecessor Tim Farron have been criticised for missing key votes on Brexit last night, despite pedalling an anti-Brexit agenda.
According to party sources Cable was “off the parliamentary estate at an important meeting” and his absence was “approved by LibDem whips” – because the party “didn’t expect vote to be close”.
As Robert Peston noted on Twitter this morning, it’s a “shame in this age of social media there’s no way of staying in touch”.
Theresa May narrowly avoided a Commons rebellion from Remainers last night after she caved in to hardline Brexiters by accepting their amendments to the customs bill.
The government majority was reduced to just three votes on the two most controversial amendments.
The ERG customs union amendment passed by 305 to 302 and a second ERG amendment, preventing the UK joining in with the EU’s VAT regime post-Brexit, passed 303 to 300.
Peston said: “One of great political jokes of our time is that Theresa May was rescued from defeat last night by the failure to vote of the current LibDem leader Vince Cable and predecessor Tim Farron. I am struggling to find out where Cable was. Anyone know?”
With Cable absent at an “important meeting” Farron was absent because he was giving a talk in Sherborne on how he squares his controversial views as an evangelical Christian with being a liberal politician.
Lib Dem’s Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake, criticised the government for accepting amendments to the customs bill from the hardline ERG. “We have seen the truly calamitous state of the Tory party, as once again the prime minister is forced to concede ground to hold together her unholy alliance of MPs,” he said.
Pity they didn’t do anything about it.