Britain’s exit from the EU is set to be the hope topic when self-styled “Brexit saboteur” Sir Vince Cable meets businesses in Cumbria.

The Liberal Democrat leader will speak to around 70 business leaders who will gather in Kendal to hear his views on the current machinations in Parliament as politicians battle it out over the hotly debated withdrawal deal.

Sir Vince will also join fellow Liberal Democrat Tim Farron, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, who are hosting the fully-booked event at Mintworks on Thursday.

The high-profile politician has described himself as a “Brexit saboteur”. A strong critic of the Government’s Brexit policy, he continues to make strong calls for a second referendum, or what has been commonly referred to as the “People’s Vote”.

Mr Johnston said: “The Chamber has never taken a stance on Brexit, either for or against, because we know it divides businesses just as it divides the general population.

“But we’re delighted to get a key player from Westminster here at what is a critical moment for the UK. This is a golden opportunity for businesses to put him on the spot and tell him our concerns – whether you agree with him or not.”

“The last time Sir Vince was here in 2017 he thought there was a 50 per cent chance of the Government securing a withdrawal agreement, a 30 per cent chance of a no-deal Brexit and a 20 per cent chance that Brexit wouldn’t happen at all. It will be fascinating to hear his take now.”

Mr Johnston added that the recent announcement from Nissan that it will no manufacture the X-Trail SUV at Sunderland, citing “continued uncertainty” around Brexit as a factor, has brought more focus to the prospect, and impact on business, of a no-deal Brexit.
“We know from our ongoing survey of Cumbrian businesses that many will be caught out if there is a no-deal Brexit on March 29th,” he said.

“Almost half haven’t started preparations yet because they expected Parliament to ratify a withdrawal agreement, which would mean no change to trading arrangements until the end of 2020.

“But if we leave in March without a deal there will be no transition period and the impacts will be immediate.”