A leaked memo has revealed that the Liberal Democrats are planning to lose all their MEPs. Party figures have been told to react to a severe defeat in today’s European Elections by claiming they “expected” to lose all of their representatives in the European Parliament and simply call the result “disappointing”.
The document, leaked to the Guardian newspaper, tells party officials to say: “Disappointed with the result but the party remains resolute and this was expected at this point in the electoral cycle.”
It also says that the party’s best hope is to retain just five seats, fewer than half of the 11 they won in 2009.
If the party manages to retain two or three MEPs, senior party officials have been told to say that it is a “good result considering the circumstances”, while if they manage to keep up to five, the document suggests calling the result “very encouraging… much better than almost everyone predicted.”
An electoral wipe out will inevitably lead to questions over the leadership of Nick Clegg, with some people suggesting he may have to end the coalition government with the Conservatives, or even stand down.
A party source told the Guardian, however: “Nick Clegg is probably safe if Vince [Cable] and Danny [Alexander] are the main people in the frame. Vince will not wield the knife – he just wants the job to fall into his lap. Danny as leader would be bonkers – he is the continuity candidate.”
Commenting on the document, a Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “It’s no surprise that, like all parties, we prepare for all sorts of outcomes. We know it will be a tough night but we are proud of our campaign. Nick Clegg is the only leader that has stood up to Ukip’s divisive politics and defended British jobs and Britain’s place in Europe.”