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The Liberal Democrats are on a mission to go from “protest back to power”, the party’s departing leader, Sir Vince Cable, is to say.
In a speech in York, Sir Vince will call for the party to continue arguing for the benefits of staying in the EU.
He will also accuse Prime Minister Theresa May of prioritising Conservative Party unity over maintaining peace in Northern Ireland.
Sir Vince, 75, will step down in May after leading the Lib Dems since 2017.
‘We are Remain’
Speaking on Sunday at the party’s spring conference, Sir Vince will say “we are Remain”, adding: “Whatever happens in the next few weeks of parliamentary twists and turns, we must argue – since no-one else can be relied upon to do so – that none of the several mutually exclusive versions of Brexit on offer – soft or hard – are as good as the deal we currently have.”
Next week, Mrs May is expected to bring her withdrawal agreement back to the Commons for a third time after it was twice voted down by large margins.
Mrs May’s efforts to win over Tory Eurosceptics to back the deal have focused on attempts to revise the backstop, the measures in the Brexit deal aimed at preventing the return of a hard border in Ireland.
“The intensity of the campaign to remove it speaks volumes about the underlying motives of those who demanded Brexit and now demand a ‘clear Brexit’,” Sir Vince will say.
“They simply deny our history, which is entwined with that of Ireland.”
Image copyright Graham Eva Image caption Jo Swinson, deputy leader since 2017, is one of the leading contenders to be the next leader
Sir Vince will also target Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley personally for criticism, following a series of gaffes.
Ms Bradley previously said that deaths caused by the security forces in Northern Ireland during the Troubles were “not crimes” – comments she ended up apologising for.
“It really is quite shocking that this government is so lacking in talent that it employs a secretary of state for Northern Ireland who says she doesn’t understand sectarian voting patterns and then compounds this public declaration of ignorance with a blatantly and na