Gina Miller has mixed messages for her fans at Lib Dem conference
Read the Remain campainer's full speech to Lib Dem conference below.
The main event at Liberal Democrat conference on Monday was Remain champion Gina Miller who gave a speech on why she did not want to be a Lib Dem leader and why she wanted them to keep going as a minor party.
Or as Miller put it: “I am not addressing you as your leader-in-waiting. Truth be told, I am not a member of your party, or indeed any party now. But I want, all the same, to see the Liberal Democrats thrive, because in a healthy democracy we need a strong third party."
Having put the Lib Dems in their place, Miller spoke to journalists afterwards and expressed doubts about the phrase ‘people’s vote’, which various Lib Dem politicians have been employing as they campaign for the public to be given a say on the final Brexit deal.
She told hacks: "In my view, it’s not defined enough. Is it a people’s vote on three options? Is it a people’s vote on leave with no deal? It doesn’t have enough detail. I don’t know if they’ve tested it.
“As a marketer, I like to know data behind things. I like to have things tested. I don’t know what testing has been done. I get the feeling it isn’t defined enough.”
Millier also left Lib Dem spinners scratching their heads when she criticised the idea she was trying to stop Brexit, saying: “I wish you would all stop saying this. You know it’s really not helpful. Stop saying ‘stop Brexit’. It’s really not helpful.”
But it wasn’t all bad news for Lib Dem activists, politicians and spin doctors. In her keynote speech, Miller played to the home crowd with a reference to “the great Dame Shirley Williams” before going on to lay into Labour and the Tories.
Having refused to lead them and made it clear that she did not expect a Lib Dem revival any time soon, the star speaker at least told her audience she would "cheer them on" and "walk side by side with you all as Liberal Democrats seeking to stop the decay in our democracy".
And despite what she said half an hour later, in her speech Miller also stressed that she wanted "the opportunity for a people’s vote"...
The full speech
Good morning and thank you. It is a great privilege to address your conference here in Brighton.
Today I speak to you as a friend and someone who feels a bond with you on many issues, but may I say straight away, particularly for the benefit of the journalists here in this hall who have been doing a great deal of speculating lately, I am not addressing you as your leader-in-waiting.
Truth be told, I am not a member of your party, or indeed any party now, but I want, all the same, to see the Liberal Democrats thrive, because in a healthy democracy we need a strong third party, every bit as much as we need a strong Opposition, and, for that matter, a strong Government and a strong Prime Minister.
Now more than ever, on all sides of the political arena, we need statesmen and women doing what they genuinely believe is right for our country – not just reflecting society, but shaping it.
At home each of our political parties has, goodness knows, its problems, but centrist politics throughout Europe and the United States is now really struggling to make headway, at the very time when the western world needs reasonable, conciliatory, sensible voices more than ever.
As the great Dame Shirley Williams has warned, the fascism of the left is every bit as terrifying and destructive as the fascism of the right.
Liberalism has become a dirty word in the mouths of both the extreme right and the extreme left because it interferes with their hard and cold ideologies - both of which abhor the freedom of the individual.
Over the last six weeks I have travelled around our Great Britain, listening and talking with people from all walks of life, of all ages and too many - especially our young – are feeling a sense of powerlessness – worse, alienation – which is profoundly troubling because democracy only works when enough people are interested.
A great many of our people feel that things are going to get a lot worse in this country in the years ahead, and there is nothing that they can do about it. That they have no political home and no trust that politicians will put them before their own personal quests for power and glory.
Today we hear that Brexiteer MPs will be touring the country to sell ‘no deal’ – I challenge them to speak to ordinary people – not an orchestrated audience – and explain to people what leaving the EU with no deal will mean to every part of their lives – the fact that no deal means no transition, no safety nets. If they’re struggling, we have a handy guide on the Home Page of our new End the Chaos website that they’re welcomed to use – which includes real view from voices across many sectors.
But back to people and their feelings of defeatism. Just ringing our hands and moaning about the extreme right and the extreme left - is not going to get us anywhere. It only serves the interests of the tiny, selfish, but brilliantly exploitative minority in our midst who have seen an opportunity to enrich themselves still further - at the expense of us all.
Our politics has become warped. Suddenly our friends are our enemies, our enemies our friends. Lies have become facts, facts have become lies.
The Labour position on the most important issue of our times is indistinguishable from the Tories’. ‘Taking back control’ now means the prospect of losing everything we hold dear - from the funding of the NHS, education, jobs, prosperity, security, social cohesion, maybe even our sense of who we are and what we stand for.
We will all of us be judged by future generations – by our children and grandchildren – by what we do during the defining weeks and months ahead.
Believe me, none of us is going to be forgiven by these future generations if we tell them we decided just to sit this particular national crisis out, just waited to see what would happen, felt there was nothing we could do, or, worse, stayed silent and hoped others would sort out the chaos.
Do you think that our forebears when, out of the blood-stained, bombed-out crater that was Europe in the forties, began to see a vision of a union of countries working together peacefully and prosperously for the common good - when over many years they and those that followed them fine-tuned it and developed that vision - do you think that they did not know what they were doing?
In 1879, in a foreign policy speech given by the great Gladstone he said, “mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island. The ground on which we stand here is not British or European, it is human.”
They had a dream not for themselves, but for those who followed them - yes, for us, people not yet born - and over almost half a century we have had the privilege of freedom, prosperity, peace, the chance to live the lives they wanted for us. Not always perfect lives, I agree, and a lot tougher for some than others, but it was in the main lives that were infinitely better than theirs.
Too many of today’s politicians presume they know better than that great, idealistic generation - whose leaders included Winston Churchill, Attlee, Lloyd George - that generation that made such sacrifices for our country - they who fought for it, they who were willing to die for it. Who are we, seriously, who have mostly not had to bear arms for our country or bear real hardship, to tell that generation we know better than them?
Let’s be clear, in the debate we had in 2016 about Europe, there was scant idealism. Lies were told.
Let’s be clear, too, that when Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Davis and all the others who won that debate, they entered into a contract with the British people to deliver a workable, realistic plan to leave the EU that would work - not just for the millionaires who backed their campaign, but for everyone.
After all this time, they have failed to come up with such a plan. They’ve failed to honour the contact.
Instead they are focussed on inward power plays, indifference that leads to gambling with people’s lives, beating a path to No. 10 Downing Street; whilst the lives of ordinary people will have a very different drum beat – one that will lead to hardship, loss of rights and freedoms, loss of job security and loss of opportunity.
I stood on a cliff top close to another seaside town last week, not minded to jump, but minded, to ensure that we do not all of us jump off collectively. I was in Dover launching End the Chaos - a new non-political movement – to help people make an informed choice when the politicians own up to the fact that the only morally and democratically way out of this chaos is to let the people decide.
Even though I am now politically independent, I am here to cheer you on, and to walk side by side with you all as Liberal democrats seeking to stop the decay in our democracy,
to stop the politics of division,
to unite rather than to divide,
to offer hope and to recognise that we must defend liberal values founded on equality of opportunity, tolerance, respect and humanity.
Above all things, humanity.
We must all step up – talk to people across the United Kingdom and to listen and to encourage an informed and practical discussion about our future – and, where we identify problems – to address them, head on and to speak truth unto power.
To see to it that our democracy, our laws, and our parliamentary sovereignty and our hard-won freedoms are all acknowledged and respected.
I challenge you - and the members of all the parties - to take part in this debate and to play your part - as I know so many of you are already doing with such passion - in making sure we get the best possible outcome for all of us.
I want, as I know you do, the opportunity for a people’s vote, but, before that, we really do need to know all the issues, all the facts, and how each of the options will affect every part of our lives - including, yes, remaining in the European Union.
Make no mistake - time is running out. We have just 193 days to go until our scheduled departure from the EU, and, as things stand, we have no agreed plan, no prospect of an agreed plan.
A leader in charge of what looks like an increasingly unleadable party.
An Opposition that is not opposing, and reasonable, sensible, conciliatory voices - such as your own - being all too often drowned out and suppressed by what I can only describe as hysteria.
It’s time for politicians to do the morally and democratically right thing – to let the people decide their own future on the facts – before it is too late.
It's time to stop the lies and the deceit.
It’s time to shine a light on the dark, extreme agendas and the foreign money that is already beginning to divide and destroy the values and principles we all hold dear.
It's time for more politicians to put national interest before ideology.
It's time to put values before vanity and careers.
Politicians must find the courage to end the chaos by letting the people decide.
This is so much more important than party politics. I say to you, conference, keep on being willing to work – either officially, or unofficially – with people from all parties to do what is best for our country.
Be quick to see in politicians from other parties - and individuals in your communities - a shared patriotism and a shared determination to do what is right by the generations that follow us.
We must all of us be prepared to do our bit, to raise our voices, to make ourselves heard, to argue our case with even the most implacable of opponents.
We have every right to expect more of our politicians to be better than this: to stop the lies, to find their courage and honesty – to put the country before their careers.
We must not let them get away with anything less.
The only way to end the chaos is to let the people decide.