Sunday 19 March 2017 12:33 pm

Theresa May is taking business support for granted says Tim Farron

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has accused Prime Minister Theresa May of taking her party's support from the business community "for granted", and issued a stark warning to Conservative MPs to "defect or resign".

Speaking at the Lib Dem's spring conference in York, Farron said that May had "hung out to dry her own backers in British business" by taking the UK out of the Single Market.

"Theresa May has put at risk the very people who have bankrolled her party’s success for years. And she didn’t have to," Farron said.

"There was nothing inevitable about leaving the Single Market. That’s her choice. The blame for the damage lies at her door.

"If I was a businessperson who had given money to today’s Conservatives, I would demand my money back."

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He added: "If you are an entrepreneur or an investor, a City financier or a hedge fund manager, a shop keeper or a start-up. It’s not you, it’s them. They don’t want what you want. Not any more."

The Lib Dem leader also claimed that "dozens" of Conservative MPs share the position of Steven Philips, the Brexiteer QC who quit over "irreconcilable policy differences" with Downing Street.

And in a bullish turn, he threatened to unseat those Tories, emulating the party's success in the Richmond Park by-election.

"For pity’s sake, have some self-respect. Defect or resign," he said.

"If you don’t then when the next election comes we will do to you what we did to Zac Goldsmith."