Anyone watching the Conservatives tear themselves apart at the moment might be tempted to think that a political party could not possibly be any more divided. Well, the Tories may now have at last some stiff competition, as the Liberal Democrats face a remarkable split over their Brexit position.
Since the coalition years, the Lib Dems have vowed to never sell out their principles again like they did over tuition fees, which led to their disastrous showing in the 2015 election. Which explains why they have since relentlessly focused on the one key issue that sets them apart from the other main parties in Westminster: backing Remain and supporting a second Brexit referendum.
With Remain being the party’s one defining issue, and since they only have twelve MPs in the House of Commons, you would think then that all Lib Dems would be singing from the same hymn sheet when the party decided that it would vote against May’s Brexit agreement on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, there were rumblings of discontent in the party when Stephen Lloyd, one of their MPs, began to suggest last month that he was considering supporting May’s agreement to avoid a no deal outcome.
Now it appears that the gulf between Lloyd and the rest of his party has become unbridgeable. According to BBC South East, the MP is resigning the party whip over “irreconcilable differences” with his party’s voting intentions over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement:
BREAKING: The Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, Stephen Lloyd, is resigning his party whip. He cites “irreconcilable differences” with his party’s voting intentions over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. pic.twitter.com/DoNS9y4nqb
— BBC South East (@bbcsoutheast) December 6, 2018
Which means that in the space of a single afternoon, the party has managed to not only split over their defining issue, but also reduce their representation in the Commons by almost ten per cent. Mr S has to take his hat off to the Lib Dems, they’d usually have to wait for a general election to do so badly.