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Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable forecasts doom over Brexit

And the new party leader teases that York is better than Chester

New Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable told reporters leaving the European Union was likely to end up in ‘a mess’ while on a visit to Chester.

Mr Cable kept to the same script as predecessor Tim Farron when he addressed local members at Queen’s Park High School in Handbridge.

A pro-European stance remains at the centre of the party’s vision even though it failed to produce a break-through at the ballot box in June with just 12 MPs elected compared with nine previously and many high profile casualties including former leader Nick Clegg.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable addressed local members and candidates during a meeting held at Queen's Park High School in Handbridge.

Mr Cable told reporters stopping Brexit should be the mission but feels the negative impact on the economy will undermine the current direction of travel.

He said: “I find it difficult to believe it will be anything other than a mess because if you leave the single market and the customs union you expose a lot of British industries, Airbus nearby is a very good example. It’s not clear how they will be able to function if we allow these things.”

He added: “I want us to address all those people who are concerned about the consequences of Brexit, partly to keep the good things, but partly to offer an exit from Brexit if, as seems quite likely, things go badly wrong.”

Mr Cable says the Lib Dems are the only major party to oppose Brexit and believes they will eventually be proved right.

Asked about the Lib Dems’ time in government, when he served as business secretary, Mr Cable responded: “It was something that had to happen given what the situation was in 2010 and I think we did good for the country – strong and stable government to coin a phrase.

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable with the party's Alyn and Deeside parliamentary candidate Peter Williams, from Hawarden, with his mum Anne Williams from Sandycroft, with his wife Alexandra and daughters Seren, nine, and Georgia, seven, following a meeting with local members held at Queen's Park High School in Handbridge.

“We stopped the Tories doing a lot of damaging things and we did a lot of plus things. I talked about industrial strategy and getting the banking system on its feet and things of that kind – promoting science – actually Chester University is a very good example of one of the things I got involved in, making sure the regional growth fund came to support that Thornton site project.”

Dealing with the political fall-out from the coalition, he responded: “The whole episode did us a lot of damage at the 2015 election and we haven’t recovered from it yet but I think we will.”

Likewise, he accepted the u-turn over a commitment to abolish student fees was ‘a factor’ in the party’s slide.

Mr Cable referenced the era when his party had a ‘strong position on Chester council’ which at one time they ran in partnership with the Labour Party.

But the Lib Dems lost their solitary councillor on its successor authority, Cheshire West and Chester Council, in the 2015 local elections.

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable with the party's Chester parliamentary candidate Lizzie Jewkes following a meeting with local members at Queen's Park High School in Handbridge.

And Mr Cable is disappointed for candidates like Chester Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Lizzie Jewkes who lost her deposit at the last general election but he believes there is ‘the basis for a fight-back’.

“I think overall the results were mixed. We’ve got more MPs now and a better gender balance. We've got record membership. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasm in the party but it’s certainly the case that we have had too many results where we either lost the deposit or just didn’t register and we certainly didn’t make the breakthrough. There are, however, massive opportunities.

“The centre ground of British politics has been abandoned by the Corybynite left on the one hand and by the right wing Tory Brexiteers on the other and we can fill that space. I think we are going to be vindicated on Europe. We have the whole party committed to keeping us in the single market and customs union. Both Corbyn and Theresa May want us out.”

A local Lib Dem member has a selfie with Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable following a meeting with local members held at Queen's Park High School in Handbridge.

He suspects the Tory government will hang on ‘by a hair’s breadth’ but that Corbynmania will wane and people will be looking for a ‘more sensible, plausible alternative’.

At 74, Mr Cable is the oldest of the three main leaders, who are all in their 60s and above, but insists he has ‘plenty of energy and enthusiasm’.

In his spare time, the former Strictly contestant, loves dancing, walking, cycling, occasionally going to the gym, and spending time with his family including his two grandchildren.

The member of Parliament for Twickenham, who hails from York, has ‘distant in-laws’ in Chester and visited Chester Literature Festival when promoting his last book.

“It’s a lovely city, a very beautiful place, I like it – obviously York’s number one but Chester is quite close!” he quipped.

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