Four Lib Dem councillors quit in protest at party being too pro-European

It’s hard not to wonder, ‘if that’s your reason, why quit only now?’:

Four Burnley Liberal Democrat councillors have quit the party and will stand as independents on Burnley Borough Council.

Gannow ward councillors Charlie Briggs, Neil Mottershead and Mark Payne, as well as Rosehill with Burnley Wood councillor Christine White will now sit on the council as the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party.

They have claimed that they did not agree with the pro-Europe’s party stance on Brexit. [Burnley Express]

One of them went on to complain that the Liberal Democrats are not supporting making Brexit as easy as possible, adding:

Non-metropolitan areas, and especially areas in the north seem to have become irrelevant to the national party. The party is now rightly viewed as a one policy party and has little to sell it to areas that voted decisively for Brexit.

Electricity features more than I’d have expected in the reaction from former Liberal Democrat MP for Burnley, Gordon Birtwistle:

The quartet have been branded as “lower than a snake’s belly” by furious Burnley Lib Dem leader Gordon Birtwistle who accused them of stabbing him and their voters in the back…

He said: “I feel completely betrayed and stabbed in the back by their actions. None of them had the decency to ring me or invite me to any of their meetings to discuss their concerns.

“Instead they held a number of secret meetings in the Lib Dem office in Rosegrove, using our electricity, to conduct their skulduggery.”

15 responses to “Four Lib Dem councillors quit in protest at party being too pro-European”

  1. What is our position in the north concerning voter strength? Whilst bad news we must be positive and give the North reasons to vote for us AFTER Brexit (if we leave).In or out of the EU our policies must be relevant to the country.

  2. Burnley Liberal Democrats continue their valiant efforts to make sure that Burnley remains firmly in Labour hands for the foreseeable future. Are these not the same ‘so-called’ Lib Dem councillors that refused to have their MP on their leaflets?

  3. I joined the party largely because of its pro-EU position as I felt totally disenfranchised by the two main parties. I also live in a small northern town. The idea that no-one outside London supports EU membership is a complete myth.

  4. The renegade Burnley councillors complain about the lack of party strategy for the north. Have they just awoken from a a Rip van Winkle sleep? “Northern powerhouse” of the coalition government lies in ruins, scuppered by Brexit, as does much else.
    This weekend we are off to Yorkshire to help move our son and his partner who are coming to live in London. Two young professionals (28 and 27) who liked the idea of living in the north – where property prices are low, the countryside beautiful, the air clean and people friendly – found themselves, after four years, stuck in the northern rut and conceded defeat. Brexit put stop to a career for her (in medical research) and reduced opportunities for him. Yet the locals seem blissfully unaware that things may not get better for them after Brexit. Like the four newly independent Burnley councillors. Rebellion can be intoxicating. Until the consequences are felt.

  5. More than disappointing. Not much integrity shown by these four and I should think many people will feel very let down by them.

  6. Well, it’s a wonder that they had not realised rather earlier that our Party prefers to have friends rather than enemies. Thank goodness we are not ashamed to support other people the world over. Our Constitution and especially the Preamble are clear on that.

  7. One of those people is behind why I resigned from the party in 2014. One of the three most unpleasant people I came across in politics.

  8. they clearly hadn’t read the preamble to the constitution, or any of our manifestos. They were in the wrong party to start with. They probably joined us because we were better than the other choices available.
    But perhaps we should consider how we address party tribalism and ensure that, whilst we have policies based on our principles, that are fundamental to who we are, we must also be ultra-democratic in allowing members at all levels to vote with their conscience.
    We could start by scrapping the ‘whip’ system in all chambers of governance.

  9. “they clearly hadn’t read the preamble to the constitution, or any of our manifestos. They were in the wrong party to start with. They probably joined us because we were better than the other choices available.”

    Probably but don’t know for certain.
    Definitely Yes.

  10. Of the remaining six Burnley Lib Dem councillors, at least four of them are in the right party.

    I’m impressed that the departed have set up their own party, although the Electoral Commission doesn’t seem to know about it yet. The registration paperwork, party annual returns and expenses returns are not for the faint of heart.

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