- Exclusive: Brexiteers want to create “Empire 2.0,” according to Sir Vince Cable.
- The Lib Dem leader will accuse pro-Leave politicians of wanting to use Brexit as a means for recreating the British empire.
- “They want to embark on Empire 2.0, which is wrong and resented across the Commonwealth,” Cable will say.
- Anti-Brexit campaigners like Cable’s Lib Dems could have just weeks to keep Britain in the EU with a deal reportedly days away.
LONDON – Brexiteers are trying to create another British empire, which risks spreading resentment across the rest of the Commonwealth, Sir Vince Cable will say on Monday.
In his latest swipe at pro-Leave politicians, the leader of the Liberal Democrats will tell the Institute of Commonwealth Studies that the Brexiteer mission to “embark on Empire 2.0” is “resented” across the Commonwealth.
“The Commonwealth is an important institution, but the Brexiters are wrong to see this as an alternative to the EU. They want to embark on Empire 2.0, which is wrong and resented across the Commonwealth,” Cable is set to say.
Brexiteers like Trade Secretary Liam Fox argue that leaving the European Union will open up new markets for the UK – including countries in the Commonwealth like Australia and Canada.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, Cable will say that the former British territories which make up the group believe that Brexit is a bad idea.
“Commonwealth countries want us to stay in the EU – we are the natural interlocutor between them and Europe. We have a duty to do the right thing by the Commonwealth and Britain and it is in our mutual interests to stay in the EU.”
The MP for Twickenham will reject claims that EU membership has limited the UK’s ability to trade with the world, arguing “the likes of Australia and New Zealand are already negotiating bilateral agreements with the EU.
“These deals are of much more value too them and the UK risks being completely marginalised.”
The Liberal Democrat leader has sought to exploit anger at those politicians who campaigned for Brexit, among Remain voters.
Last month, he described Boris Johnson as a “real danger to Britain” and said his “cynical disregard for the truth.. treatment of women, and… inflammatory divisive language” made him similar to Donald Trump.
He also accused Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg of having an “erotic” fixation with a hard Brexit.
The Lib Dem leader’s remarks come at the beginning of what could a pivotal week in Brexit negotiations.
UK and EU negotiators are trying to reach a deal on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement ahead of the next European Council next week amid reports that both sides are close to a breakthrough on the thorny Irish border issue.
However, a spokesperson for Theresa May today played down reports that a deal was days away, telling reporters: “There is a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal … and it actually being agreed.”
Brexiteers were buoyed this morning when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that his country would welcome enhanced trade ties with the UK with “open arms” after Brexit.
Ahead of his speech later today, Cable poured cold water on the excitement triggered by Abe’s comments among Brexiteers, claiming: “His warm words should not mislead us into believing in a prosperous life after Brexit.
“As the Japanese ambassador himself has made clear, the best way to ensure Japanese companies continue to create jobs and invest in the UK is to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.”
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