UK Politics

'Avalanche' of Labour MPs could turn to Lib Dems - Sir Vince Cable

Sir Vince Cable Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Vince Cable said the election of Jeremy Corbyn was a "catastrophic choice"

There could be "an avalanche" of Labour MPs who defect to the Liberal Democrats following Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory, Sir Vince Cable has said.

Mr Corbyn won a landslide victory to become leader, despite not being backed by the majority of Labour MPs.

Labour made a "catastrophic choice" and was now stuck with a leader "totally out of touch" with its base, the former Lib Dem MP and business secretary said.

It offered the Lib Dems "a way back" after election losses, he added.

Speaking to Radio 4's Week In Westminster, Sir Vince said Mr Corbyn's victory and Labour's shift to the left was "certainly an opportunity" and "certainly a way back" for the Lib Dems.

'No end of harm'

The Lib Dems ended up with just eight MPs following this year's general election - down from 57 in 2010.

A host of senior Lib Dem ministers and MPs lost their seats at the election, including Sir Vince, former energy secretary Ed Davey, and ex-treasury secretary Danny Alexander.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour MPs were now "completely stuck" with Mr Corbyn, Sir Vince said

Speaking ahead of the party's conference in Bournemouth, Sir Vince said "moderate, middle of the road" Labour politicians were now in "a terrible position" following Mr Corbyn's victory.

His victory would do the Labour party "no end of harm", he warned, adding: "They're completely stuck with a leader who is just totally out of touch with their own electoral base."

Sir Vince predicted there would be at least some defections to his party - but said he believed it could be more realistic for many disgruntled Labour MP to work with the Lib Dems on individual issues.

"I think that kind of cross-party working is probably more promising for most Labour people than defection, though some will go and we will see.

"It may become an avalanche," he added.

New Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, has said "distressed" Labour figures have already contacted him following Mr Corbyn's election win.

At the conference's opening rally, he said: "Britain is teeming with liberals, some of them are not yet in the Liberal Democrats. Some of them are in other parties. But we are their home."

More on this story