The party leader was greeted with a roar of noise as MPs made their feelings known after Tory MP Peter Bone, a long-time eurosceptic and Brexit campaigner, called Mr Farron out during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Speaking as the House prepares to vote on Article 50 – the formal mechanism which begins the EU departure – Brexiteers like Mr Bone were in a triumphant mood with the bill almost certain to pass.
He said: “Tonight there will be a historic vote in this place, a vote that I never thought I’d see in my political lifetime.
“Would the Prime Minister be surprised that people on the opposite bench who demand time to discuss this and debate it, namely the Liberal Democrats, didn’t even bother to turn up last night.
Tim Farron was forced to defend the Lib Dems' turn out to an Article 50 debate on Tuesday
Would the Prime Minister be surprised that people on the opposite bench who demand time to discuss this and debate it, namely the Liberal Democrats, didn’t even bother to turn up last night
“These benches were packed, those benches were packed, the DUP were here and there was some Labour members – isn’t that surprising?”
Theresa May then added to the criticism aimed at Mr Farron, who has called for a second EU referendum and sought to establish his party as the official Brexit opposition.
Mrs May said: “Throughout my political career I’ve fought Liberal Democrats and nothing that the Liberal Democrats do ever surprises me, but I will join my honourable friend in commanding the bill that is before the House.”
Government Loses Brexit Vote Appeal
Tue, January 24, 2017
Britain's most senior judges ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May does not have the power to trigger the formal process Article 50 for the UK's exit from the European Union without Parliament having a say.
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Issued by the Supreme Court of (top row, from the left) Lord Neuberger, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, (bottom row, from the left) Lady Hale, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson and Lord Hodge, who agreed with the majority decision that the Government could not trigger Article 50 without Parliamentary approval.
Mr Farron attempted to respond but was stopped in his tracks by the volume of noise in the chamber.
“We are here now,” he responded as the house erupted and MPs heckled.
After a long pause, he continued: “Asking the questions about the future of our country on Brexit that a strong leader of the opposition should be asking.
“The Prime Minister will return at some point with a deal with Europe that our people will have to live with for decades to come, especially out young people – 73 per cent of whom voted to remain.
“Nobody knows what that deal will look like but someone will get to agree it. Should it be her Government? Should it be this Parliament? Or should it be, as I believe, the British people?”
Tim Farron was mocked by Theresa May and Tory backbenchers
Earlier the Prime Minister told MPs it was her "intention and expectation" the Government would be able to offer assurances about the position of EU nationals resident in the UK although she wanted see similar assurances for British nationals in the EU.
"We will be working to try to ensure that this is an issue we can deal with at the very early stage in the negotiations.
"It was one of the objectives I set out in the plan. It will be referenced in the white paper," she said.
On Tuesday, MPs spoke until midnight after Brexit Secretary David Davis introduced the legislation by stressing the Government's determination to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, starting the formal two-year countdown to leaving the EU.
The Government was forced to seek Parliament's approval for its plans by a Supreme Court ruling last week.