Lib Dem leader Vince Cable his predecessor Tim Farron have come under fire for missing key Brexit votes in parliament on Monday evening.
Theresa May narrowly saw off defeat by just three votes on two key changes to the customs bill after a backlash from pro-EU MPs in her own party furious that she had accepted the demands from hardline Brexiteer backbenchers.
Cable and Farron before him committed the Lib Dems to campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU.
But Farron missed the crunch votes as he was giving a £5 lecture on “Illiberal Truths” at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset.
The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP resigned as party leader in 2016 after being dogged by questions over whether he believed gay sex was a sin.
A Lib Dem source said Cable was attending an approved meeting off the parliamentary estate as the party did not expect the votes to be so close.
“Labour only changed their minds after 8pm,” the source said, adding that the party remained committed to securing an “exit from Brexit”.
In a statement, Farron said: “I was authorised to be absent due to a pre-arranged engagement away from the Parliamentary estate.
“In the end nobody expected the vote to be as close as it was — I’d actually cancelled the engagement earlier on, but then uncancelled because we expected Labour to abstain and the Government to win by miles.
“We clearly called it wrong, as did Labour. I take full responsibility for my part. The Tories don’t deserve any luck, I’m so sorry I inadvertently granted them some.”
Labour MPs were quick to criticise Cable and Farron after the prime minister won the votes last night.