The Liberal Democrats are "playing with fire' by pledging to cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 , according to party grandee Norman Lamb MP.

Mr Lamb, who served as a Health Minister in the coalition government, has warned that the policy is "a threat to the social contract" and risks dividing an already fractured country further.

The party's new position, overwhelmingly backed by party delegates in Bournemouth yesterday, pledges to cancel Brexit if they come to power at the next general election .

If they don't win an election, which is a far likelier option, they have said they would continue to call for "People's Vote" where they would campaign to Remain.

After the vote yesterday, party leader Jo Swinson, said: "We will do all we can to fight for our place in Europe, and to stop Brexit altogether."

Norman Lamb said South-West London and the rest of the country have different political priorities
 

But Mr Lamb, who has said he is standing down in his Leave-supporting seat at the next election, said it risked unlocking more dangerous forces.

He told the BBC Radio 4' Today programme that the party was "playing with fire" and that divide between Leave and Remain was already  "incredibly dangerous".

 "If we take this to the very limit in a situation where one side is vanquished entirely, I think there's a real danger that we break the social contract in our country," he added.

Jo Swinson defended the policy on the BBC
 

"And I think that we all have a responsibility of reuniting the country in a common endeavour."

Earlier he had told the BBC:  "I really don’t want the party to be seen as a single-issue party. I think there’s a danger of that.” 

"I want to ensure we can win seats like North Norfolk and in the south-west

“The balance of opinion there is very different to what it is in south-west London.”

He was joined by Lib Dem lord Paul Scriven, who tweeted: "I've thought long and hard about this tweet.

"I agree totally with  @normanlamb that our new policy on Article 50 is wrong and we are boarding on becoming extreme on Brexit. 

"We will not help to bring the Country together if we unilaterally act in this way."

Jo Swinson defended the policy on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We still want to have a People's Vote.

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"We've been arguing for that for the last three-and-a-half years to put the Brexit deal to the public in a referendum.

"When we have an election, if we haven't had a People's Vote, people will be looking to resolve the issue of Brexit, and there are so many people in this country who are so sick of hearing about it.

"They want to get on with their lives and want the government to get on with making their lives better."