It’s a generally accepted rule that if you don’t turn up for work without notice, particularly if say you had an important meeting about the future of your company, you would be fired. The same cannot be said for Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament Tim Farron and Vince Cable, leader of the Party no less, who this week seem to have felt that turning up to vote on the future of our country post-Brexit was inconsequential.
On Monday, the Government managed to scrape through its Customs Bill by the slimmest of margins. Yet on this key trade bill, the leader and former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cable and Farron were away on ‘prior engagements’. Their attendance could’ve dealt a blow to the Government who won with a razor thin majority.
Instead, the only blow the two rogue Lib Dems struck was to their own Party. Since Brexit, the Liberal Democrats have presented themselves as the party that will stop Brexit, hoping to capitalise on disgruntled ‘Remoaners’ still clinging onto the hope that Brexit will be turned around and we can all go back to the distant days where Brexit wasn’t happening and the news felt less like a pre-recording of the previous day. This position has now been seriously undermined by the absence of the two the leading Liberal Democrats at such a crucial and knife edge vote on Brexit. How the Liberal Democrats expect to retain their relevance if they do not even attend votes in Parliament on their key policy issue remains to be seen. This episode strongly implies that even the Liberal Democrats don’t believe in their ability to even influence Brexit, much less turn it around.
It’s hardly a vote of confidence for the future of the Liberal Democrats as a major influencer of UK politics, though they probably wouldn’t show up for that vote either.