Berkeley Squares Bite: Tim Farron on Snap Election Special

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Today I had the pleasure of meeting the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron. In this exclusive Snap Election Special on the Berkeley Squares Bite we ask Farron about the consequences of Brexit and why he thinks Theresa May called the snap election for 8 June. He reveals that his family holiday was out of the window as he embarks on putting the Liberal Democrats back on the electoral map.

“Do you think this is prime time for the Liberal Democrats to come back fighting?”
James Patrick Wearmouth, Business and Political Editor

In 2015, the Liberal Democrats were badly weakened by their coalition government with the Conservatives combined with backtracking on key issues, most prominently tuition fees. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats had 57 seats; however, in 2015 they lost 49 of those, leaving them with just eight seats in the Commons. Farron discusses how the snap election called on 19 April by Theresa May will, indeed, allow the Liberal Democrats to come back fighting with their “softer version of Brexit”.

“Labour have sat on the fence, the Tories need a decent opposition – here we are!”
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats

The leader of the Liberal Democrats tells me that the country faces two options, citing that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party “is not a plausible” opportunity for the future of the UK. He stresses that it’s either the coronation of Theresa May or a revival of Liberal Democrat support in places like the West of England to stop “hard Brexit”.

“I am happy to stand in an election and standing on my principles. I mean the idea that elections happen once and then you’ve got to give up and accept the outcome for eternity – that’s a nonsense!”
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats

When challenged on his anti-Brexit stance, what he calls “soft Brexit”, he told me that he wanted to accept the result but carry on campaigning for the future, explaining that he did not want his children to clean up the legacy of the current government with their hard Brexit agenda. Farron divulges that his main aim is to allow the British public to choose a different direction over Brexit.

“Is this election, in essence, the Brexit election?”
James Patrick Wearmouth, Business and Political Editor

“The electorate will decide that” replies Farron, pointing to the fact that there will likely be other issues involved in influencing the way people vote during June’s election. However, one might add that the clear emphasis Farron puts on the issue of Brexit throughout the interview shows that at this election voting behaviour might not be as black and white as previous ones. Brexit could well be the biggest and most influential recency factor in determining voting behaviour in UK political history.

I end my interview with talking about the Metro Mayor elections on 4 May, to which Farron wholeheartedly endorses Stephen Williams saying that he will be “respected and feared in government”. He also highlights that voting either Green or Labour would likely result, in his opinion, in a conservative Metro Mayor: Tim Bowles.

Over the next few days we will be talking to the Metro Mayor candidates ahead of the election on 4 May—so stay tuned!