by Martin Odoni

Strange interview on The Andrew Neil Show yesterday. The Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader, and eight-years-in-a-row winner of the ‘LibDem-Who-Looks-Most-Like-He-Used-To-Be-A-Gun-Runner-For-The-Mafia’ award, Sir Ed Davey, was getting a grilling from the eponymous seeker-after-Thatcherism on what options the party would pursue in the event of another Hung Parliament next month.

Now Davey has not had a noticeably good week, what with his economically illiterate pledge the other day to run the economy at a permanent 1% surplus, a policy that requires amoral levels of cruelty, and is physically impossible to achieve (a surplus in the public sector means a deficit in the private sector, and a deficit in the private sector, if it lasts for long, will cause a recession sooner rather than later). So, even with consequently low expectations for a rigorous intellectual experience, I decided I had to hear Davey’s reply to Neil’s question. And for sure, the reply was… interesting.

“Boris Johnson says he wants to deliver Brexit… so the only way he can do that is with a People’s Vote [Second Referendum]. So we will challenge him, and work with others to say, ‘If you want to do what you said, Mr Johnson… work for a People’s Vote… We would vote, issue-by-issue, whoever is in a Minority Government, and we would vote on the Liberal Democrat Manifesto.”

I am given to wonder whether Davey realises that he has contradicted himself. He is saying that in the event of a Minority Government, his party would operate on a vote-by-vote basis, trying to enforce the LibDem Manifesto. But he also says that as part of that process, he would try to convince Boris Johnson (yeah right, good luck with that, Ed), if he remained in office, to hold a People’s Vote.

“What’s the contradiction?” I hear you ask. Well, it is rather obvious.

A People’s Vote is not actually in the LibDem Manifesto, and indeed is incompatible with the LibDem policy on Brexit, which is to revoke Article-50 summarily – no votes, no consultation with anybody, just cancel it stone dead.

Flip-flop Davey

And people say Jeremy Corbyn is indecisive on Brexit?

Whether you agree with this policy or not, it is clearly not possible to do both that and a People’s Vote, at least not a meaningful one. This means Davey has flip-flopped within the space of less than two minutes. (Or perhaps, we have had yet another policy U-Turn before the General Election has even arrived?)

And people keep accusing Jeremy Corbyn of not making his mind up on Brexit?