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Party prepares for a snap general election

July 4, 2016 3:31 PM
By Mark Pack in Liberal Democrat Newswire

With a snap general election in the air (legally possible although politically perhaps not quite so likely), the Liberal Democrats have been rapidly putting in place arrangements for a snap general election. This includes the Federal Policy Committee (FPC) kicking off plans for drawing up a manifesto (for more on which, see Geoff Payne's report below).

Central to any such manifesto will be the party's willingness to seek a democratic mandate for keeping Britain in the EU. The wise combo will be both to use the issue in the general election to coalesce electoral support behind pro-Remain candidates whilst also preparing the ground for a subsequent fight over a possible second referendum when the exact terms of any Brexit deal have been negotiated. That's the point at which the Brexit camp itself may well splinter between pro-free trade and anti-immigration camps because it is even more unlikely than me having a Christmas Number One that any actual deal can both preserve full free trade and also completely axe freedom of movement.

If there is indeed a snap election still in the air in the autumn, it will make the previous decision to shorten the party's autumn federal conference by one day interesting - especially as significant chunks of time are due to be spent on debating and voting on the results of the big governance review led by party president Sal Brinton.

Given the importance of the issues it is trying to fix, delaying the governance review would come with a cost. Expect however political sketch writers to make a joke or two about hours of constitutional debates.

The planned autumn selections for the next European Parliament elections have meanwhile been axed. On the subject of candidates - last time I carried a piece from new member Ben Sims on what it is like going through the approval process for Parliamentary candidates. An extended version of his original piece on the Lib Dem candidate process is now also available to read.