News / Carmichael: Significant opportunities for Lib Dems

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.

RE-ELECTED Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael believes the Liberal Democrats will have “quite significant” opportunities to exert political influence on the newly elected parliament.

The Lib Dems increased their number of MPs from eight to 12, including regaining three previously held seats in Scotland.

“A small group that is prepared to take its responsibilities seriously and to prioritise its own agenda can achieve a lot in this parliament. That is how I see us operating,” he said.

Speaking form his home in Orkney on Friday afternoon, the former Scottish secretary said the fact that his party had “picked up three seats in Scotland and missed a forth just by two votes” showed that the LibDems were “still a vital and relevant part of Scottish political discourse”.

He said he was “absolutely gutted” to see his friend and colleague Nick Clegg lose his Sheffield Hallam seat following Thursday’s general election vote and added that the House of Commons will be “the poorer for his absence”.


During the seven week long election campaign, the LibDems focused on winning over the 48 per cent who voted in favour of remaining in the EU, a strategy that didn’t produce the anticipated big gains.

Carmichael said that, “strangely”, Brexit hardly figured during what was supposed to be the Brexit election.

“It was in many ways the dog that didn’t bark during the campaign,” he said.

However, with a prime minister who depends on the support of the Northern Irish DUP to get her Queen’s speech through parliament, the small group of Lib Dem MPs see plenty of opportunities to make their mark.

“I think our opportunities in the new parliament are very significant. If we as a party are clear about what we want to achieve, then we are in position where we are at the heart of the political debate and we will be able to exert quite significant political influence without going into any coalition,” he said.

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“We see what presents itself once negotiations start, but if there is any hints that the Conservatives are inclined to sell out our fishing industry then, as far as I am concerned, any notion of co-operation is off the table.”

He added: “Having been an MP for 16 years and having watched these things at really close quarters, I know that if you want a strong and stable government, then you don’t go looking for the DUP to support you.

“What I think we will see between Theresa May and the DUP will be a commitment to take them through the Queen’s Speech and a budget.

“But you got to get every vote every night, and you will not get that even from the Tory party. And they will struggle to get that from the DUP who are not exactly famous for their assiduous attendance in the House of Commons.”

He added that the close cooperation between the Tories and the DUP might also have consequences for the Northern Irish peace process because the DUP’s newly gained influence on the UK government was likely to cause suspicion, “if not hostility”, amongst the nationalist community.

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