Former Liberal Democrat MP and business secretary Vince Cable is campaigning to return to parliament by telling his former constituents that the Conservatives are adopting UK Independence Party policies.
In an interview with Research Fortnight on 19 May, Cable said the UK had choices in addition to the “hard” Brexit that he claimed Theresa May’s government is advocating, in which the UK falls out of the single market and ends the right of free movement for European Union citizens. “There are quite a few countries within the EU that have managed immigration within the single market,” Cable said.
“Germany regulates professionals and restricts movement of people who haven’t got German-level qualifications in professions such as architecture, medicine and engineering,” he added. “We don’t have to have a UKIP-style Brexit.”
Cable is running for re-election to his Twickenham seat in the general election on 8 June. He first stood as the MP for Twickenham in 1997 and represented the constituency until he lost to Conservative Tania Mathias in 2015. In 2010 Cable had a majority of more than 12,000; in 2015 Mathias won with 25,580 votes to Cable’s 23,563.
Cable’s re-election campaign is also highlighting cuts to school funding, as well as pressure on local hospitals such as West Middlesex University Hospital and Kingston Hospital. He says he is also committed to restricting the expansion of Heathrow airport.
Asked how he would achieve these goals in the event of a Conservative majority, Cable said: “Simply adding one more to that majority isn’t going to help the people of Twickenham but having an independent and experienced person like myself—I was a very assiduous local constituency MP—would mean I could fight certain battles.”
The long-time Lib Dem is confident that his party will not take a back seat, unlike Labour, which he claims is “nowhere to be seen”.
“I’m not counting chickens but we are pretty optimistic,” he said. The party has canvassed more than half of the households in the constituency, Cable says, with just two weeks left until the election begins.
In this election the Lib Dems are campaigning tactically. They are concentrating on south-west London, parts of Scotland and their former strongholds in southern and south-western England. However, the party is not fielding a candidate in Brighton and is instead supporting incumbent Green candidate Caroline Lucas.
This article also appeared in Research Fortnight’s Election Special 2017