Sophy Ridge on Sunday Interview with Layla Moran Liberal Democrat MP


STEPHEN DIXON: Well stopping no deal will require all the opposition parties to work together, of course that includes the Liberal Democrats and their MP, Layla Moran, is here in the studio, a very good morning to you. With all of this it is fair to say isn’t it that the Liberal Democrats don’t seem to have been playing ball, they don’t seem to have been wanting to cooperate with the other parties as much as some people were expecting.

LAYLA MORAN: No, we absolutely have been all along. The People’s Vote movement was based on cross-party working and I will make the point that every single step of the way, where there has been an opportunity to work with other parties have they wanted to - and we have been trying to work with Corbyn on a People’s Vote for very many years already – that has happened and where we are now, I have to say one thing Boris Johnson has done this week is concentrated the minds of those who are intent on working together to avert a disastrous no deal Brexit and what we’re going to see next week – and it is fair criticism for past weeks where maybe we didn’t quite get our act together and weren’t all pulling in the same direction – Jo Swinson in her speech two weeks ago laid out the legislative route we will work together on that basis and that’s what we’re going to do next week. I think people will be positively surprised by what we can achieve when we pull together and we intend to.

SD: So what are you aiming for in this coming week because actually David Gauke wouldn’t tell us specifically what he wanted, John McDonnell wouldn’t tell us specifically what he wanted to achieve, what do the Liberal Democrats specifically want to achieve this week?

LAYLA MORAN: Well what Jo Swinson has said and I fully … look it is just logical we need an extension and clearly that’s the first thing we need. October 31st is looming and every other option including a general election doesn’t give us enough time so I think that’s not rocket science, that’s just logic. The three step process that we’d like to see is number one, an extension for the purposes of a People’s Vote. If anyone ever wanted evidence of how bad Brexit is for not just our country, our economy but also our constitution and our Parliament, Parliamentary sovereignty, it’s this. We need to just make this stop and the idea that even passing any kind of deal or certainly going off the cliff edge of no deal is going to make us stop talking about Brexit, it’s not, that’s the beginning. So we stand by our stop Brexit stance but we do that via a People’s Vote and that’s step one. If we can’t achieve that then there two has to be a general election but it has to be before we leave. There is no point in calling a general election on the 17th October, there wouldn’t be time, the clock starts ticking so you have to achieve an extension first and if we can’t get that we have to as parliamentarians consider revoking Article 50. We cannot allow a Prime Minister who has himself no mandate, delivering a policy that it has no mandate for – people out there are scared by the idea of no deal, it has real consequences and I think if it came down to it you revoke Article 50 before going off the cliff edge of no deal.

SD: Isn’t some of the language a little bit dangerous here? You say people out there are scared of a no deal …

LAYLA MORAN: Yes, that’s what they’re telling me.

SD: Well I’m sure some people are but we can’t actually just make that assumption that the majority of people in this country are scared of a no deal Brexit, plenty of people out there say actually this is effectively what we voted for.

LAYLA MORAN: Well if that’s the case can’t we just ask? Can’t we check? And that’s exactly what we mean by a People’s Vote. You get to the point where, you saw this morning Barnier has outright rejected getting rid of the backstop, we are assuming he is not going to be able to change the Withdrawal Agreement as it is. Interesting side note, this prorogation does mean that if Boris Johnson does want to bring back the Withdrawal Agreement he now can, he can try again and we’ll see how that works or not. We said as Liberal Democrats we would support the Withdrawal Agreement if he put it back to the people with the option to remain but if we can’t do that and we end up with this no deal being the only other option, I think it’s only right to go back to the people and go really, really? You want to damage the economy by £30 billion a year according to the OBI? Really, you want to face medicine shortages, food shortages, let alone what that is going to do to the stance of Britain in the international community. We need to check that that’s what people want and if it’s not what they want they need the option to remain and there were protests across the country at short notice yesterday where people were demanding that’s what happens.

SD: Is it legitimate to ask if you have got the courage of your convictions though in terms of if this doesn’t happen this week as you would like to see and Parliamentarians gaining control of the order papers and the agenda this week, then the other option is a vote of no confidence in the government in which Jo Swinson your leader has said we are not going to back anything which puts Jeremy Corbyn into Number Ten.

LAYLA MORAN: Well what she said, it is really important – and we are working with the Labour party, they are part of this cross party group that we are a part of as well and what Jo said is that it is up to Jeremy Corbyn to show that he has the confidence of the House, that he has got enough MPs to be able to back him and win that vote. What she stated was a fact which is that I don't think he does and if he doesn’t then we need to think of an alternative and what she said was that Harriet Harman or Ken Clarke actually might stand a better chance of being able to leave an interim government of national unity or whatever it might be, to deliver what we’re trying to do next week.

SD: So is that the case then that you are saying that the Lib Dems wouldn’t support Jeremy Corbyn unless enough other people did so effectively your vote would have no impact?

LAYLA MORAN: Not at all, not at all but effectively in a sense, I mean he’s going to get nowhere unless he can get remainer Conservatives, Conservatives who are examining their conscience having said that they didn’t want to support Boris Johnson, they received assurances he wouldn’t prorogue Parliament and now he has done for five weeks. If he can’t convince those Conservative MPs to back him then it really almost doesn’t matter what we think does it? We have already put down our own motion and signed up to the motion of no confidence but convention is that unless Jeremy Corbyn does it, it doesn’t go anywhere and he has to prove that he can get those Conservative votes otherwise it is kind of pointless. The whole thing is pointless unless we can secure that extension first because even if we call that general election, it would have to come with an extension so that there was time for people to make their choice about who they wanted to lead the country and then we decide what to do.

SD: You mentioned the protests that there were yesterday, I don't know what the figures are but certainly a good number of people turned out to protest, a lot of the placards were saying this is not democratic, the death of democracy. Do you agree that the prorogation is anti-democratic?

LAYLA MORAN: Absolutely! What’s he trying to do is …

SD: But my point would be how can you complain about something being anti-democratic when your party wants to actively ignore the result of a huge …

LAYLA MORAN: If that were true we have always said we would just do it outright and even now we are still calling for a People’s Vote because that is the democratic way to ask the people, we want to give the people the option of remain. I would campaign for it, there are tens of thousands who joined our party because they believe that’s the right thing to do but we have never said that we would just ignore it, we’ve said now we know all the facts look how messy this all is but we would go back to the people and give them the option and actually I think a lot of people who might not have considered remain before, if that was the way to make Brexit stop for good, not just for now, but for good would pick it.

SD: But that’s turning round to the 17.4 million or whatever, you got it wrong, let’s do it again, you got it wrong.

LAYLA MORAN: It’s not you got it wrong, it’s are you sure? Are you sure? And actually of the 17.4 million people equally, can you say that every single one of them voted for no deal? I’m pretty sure that that’s not the case, I think it’s entirely reasonable to go back and go okay, that’s what you wanted at the time, is this really what you wanted? Now what I find striking in the protest in Oxford, and it was huge, a Conservative councillor, a former councillor, stood up there with the tannoy saying I cannot abide this anymore and resigned from the Conservative party there and then because he felt that what Boris Johnson was doing was reckless and people there feel it is an authoritarian power grab. This is Boris Johnson doing what’s best for Boris Johnson not what’s best for the country and that is why there were people out there protesting. They feel that they have been silenced by this, not just Parliament but the people have been silenced and they are speaking out.#

SD: Layla Moran, appreciate your time today, thank you.