Guardian News and Media/London
Vince Cable has urged Liberal Democrat activists to lead a fight to liberate Britain from the “Brexit nightmare”, by making common cause with moderates from other parties. The LibDem leader was giving the closing address to his party’s annual conference in Brighton, where he sketched out reforms aimed at tempting a wave of new supporters to sign up for what he has called a “march of the moderates”.
He insisted the LibDems would be “leading the resistance to the forces of illiberalism. Leading a fight to give the people the final say on our future in Europe, and looking outwards to a changing world, with confidence and determination that our values will outlast and outclass the forces ranged against them.” In a strongly worded attack on both major parties, Cable said Labour and the Tories had been captured by the extremes – and the LibDems must “extend the hand of friendship” to disillusioned members from both.
“Let them in. And if they are too shy to come in, let us extend the hand of friendship and co-operate with them,” he said.
He added: “The two big parties have changed from broad churches into intolerant cults. And those who question the faith are unwelcome.” With the prime minister battling to secure a deal with Brussels, which she will then have to bring back to parliament for approval, Cable hopes the LibDems can profit from the deep divisions rocking Labour and the Conservatives. “The Labour leadership is dominated by people who believe in doctrines far removed from the sensible social democratic tradition which prevailed from the days of Clement Attlee to Gordon Brown.”
“They in turn are the mirror image of the Tory zealots who have more in common with Ukip than their party’s one nation traditions,” he said.
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