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Norman Lamb could resign Liberal Democrat whip after 'deeply distressing' Brexit votes

PUBLISHED: 17:15 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 03 April 2019

North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb Photo: UK Parliament

North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb Photo: UK Parliament

UK Parliament

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is considering resigning the Liberal Democrat whip after there was again no consensus reached on how to proceed with Brexit.

MPs voted on Monday, for a second time, on a range of options which could indicate how they wanted to go forward with Brexit.

Mr Lamb, a senior MP in the Commons, voted in favour of a customs union and the common market 2.0 proposal, saying that those options could then be put to a confirmatory referendum.

But he was the only Liberal Democrat to do so.

Five of his Lib Dem colleagues voted against Ken Clarke’s customs union motion, while only Tim Farron - the former party leader - joined Mr Lamb in voting for a form of the common market.

Mr Lamb said he was “massively” disappointed.

He said: “I’m thinking of whether I should resign from the whip, staying as a Liberal Democrat, but I feel so strongly about the need to heal divisions and bring people together. I was deeply unhappy with my colleagues’ unwillingness to participate in that process and to vote for options which I think would have helped bring the country together.”

It comes as Mr Lamb joined a cross-party group of senior MPs to launch a bid to force Theresa May to stop a no-deal Brexit by tabling a bill requiring the prime minister to extend the negotiation process beyond April 12.

The group, including Conservative grandee Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, aims to pass the bill through the Commons on Thursday.

Mr Lamb said: “Even though we come from different parties, there was a common view that leaving without no deal was very dangerous for the economy, for jobs - including in our country in Norfolk - and for public services. We are now literally days away from falling out without a deal because of the failure of parliament which I find deeply distressing.”

“We’ve got to bring this to a conclusion,” he said, due to the impact it was having on other business.

Norfolk MPs were due to meet the minister for local government on Monday to discuss local government funding but this was put off.

Number 10 officials are understood to have indicated that if the prime minister could not get her withdrawal agreement through on a fourth vote then she would seek a longer extension to the Brexit process “possibly until the end of the year”.

But she is believed to favour a no-deal Brexit rather than the possibility of revoking Article 50 if the choice came to it.

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