Tom Watson: Leaving Labour for Liberal Democrats is “like quitting Beatles for”

Mr Farron’s claim the Lib Dems can and must return to office has been a central theme of his first party conference.


At a conference last week the party proposed to “significantly increase” the number of people due to resettle in the UK. Yet the leader of the Liberal Democrats seems peripheral to the historic reshaping of British politics.

“I am anxious about it, because I am not sure if some of our colleagues in the parliamentary party are prepared to accept the mandate he has been given”, he said.

“My sense is that there are liberals in other parties who are not yet Liberal Democrats“.

“The stakes could not be higher: not just one, but two, unions now hang in the balance. I was very surprised”. There is a vast space in British politics for a party that is socially just and economically credible.

“The Tories must not be allowed to get away with the things they are doing without being credibly opposed”.

Mr Farron said he wanted to be “central” to the political argument but not a “centrist” ensuring it sat between the Conservatives and Labour.

“I will do my best to be a robust opposition”.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has said it will take a decade for the party to recover from the last election. Separately on Sunday, Corbyn said that if he became prime minister in 2020, he would start renationalising Britain’s rail network by putting back under public control the five out of 16 franchises that expire in the next parliament.

“He contacted me and said he wouldn’t be able to come- but only because he would be presenting reading awards to children at Archway Library”.

The chair of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) group, Joan Ryan MP, reportedly issued an invitation to Corbyn to address a reception to be held at the party’s annual conference next week, against the backdrop of concern from the Jewish community in the United Kingdom over Corbyn election.

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn rejected Mr Corbyn’s opposition to the renewal of Trident, arguing that Britain needs to “maintain an independent nuclear deterrent”.

“It’s not a question of being Blairite or anti-Blairite”, he added, referring to followers of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, “it’s a matter of “Do you want to go to elections like you go to the Olympics, to win or to participate”?”

He will also focus on youth justice and helping victims. “I would disregard the polls all together because there are lots of people out there who haven’t bothered to think about how they will vote in a referendum”.

I do not belong to any such organisation. If anything, more of our politics should be done like this.


New leader Tim Farron played down expectations that Labour MPs would defect imminently to his party, admitting they were more likely to “stay on and fight” within their own party.

Jeremy Corbyn