Megrahi found in a coma, "at death's door"

Lockerbie bomber, apparently close to death, located at his family's villa in Tripoli.

Two years after he was released on compassionate grounds by the Scottish government and given three months to live, it seems that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, is close to death. CNN's international correspondent Nic Robertson found Megrahi in a coma at his family's palatial villa in Tripoli, "surviving on oxygen and an intravenous drip."

In recent days there have been calls for Megrahi's extradition but Robertson's account of a man "near death's door" ("much iller, much sicker ... just a shell of the man he was") suggests there is little prospect of him returning to jail in Britain or, as some have suggested, to face trial in the US. In any case, the National Transitional Council has consistently maintained that it will not hand over a Libyan citizen to the west, insisting that Megrahi has been judged once and will not be "judged again". Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, has since indicated that the government will not challenge this decision. Speaking on Radio 5 this morning, he said: "In the case of al-Megrahi, he has been through a legal process and, as we have found out overnight, his life does appear to be drawing to a close."

However, he indicated, that the government would seek the extradition of Yvonne Fletcher's alleged killer, Abdulmagid Salah Almeri. He remarked: "In the case of the assassin of Yvonne Fletcher, there has been no legal process, and I think a new regime in Tripoli, the NTC delivering both a new constitution and credible elections within the eight month period they have set themselves, there's plenty of room for discussion about a situation where there hasn't been any legal process at all so far."

Megrahi's conviction is, of course, widely disputed, a fact noted this morning by some of the relatives of the victims of the bombing. For instance, Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the blast, spoke of a "tissue of lies which led to a politically useful outcome". At the very least, it is absurd that Megrahi is the only person who has been convicted of involvement in the bombing. But it appears increasingly likely that he will take the truth with him to the grave.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.