Lib Dems react to Government defeat over #righttostay

Tim Farron and Dick Newby responded quickly to the excellent news that the Lords have done the decent thing and defeats the Government over EU Nationals’ right to stay.

The Government now needs to think again over how it treats the millions of EU citizens living in this country.

Theresa May has been stubbornly determined to use EU citizens in the UK as bargaining chips. Today the Lords have told her this is not acceptable. The Government must now secure the future of the millions who are currently being held in limbo by its drive for a hard Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats will stand up to this government

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WATCH: Farron: EU Nationals should be allowed to stay if we have anything decent about us

Ahead of the crucial vote in the House of Lords, now imminent, Tim Farron has done a video urging everyone, whether they voted Leave or Remain, to come together and protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

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Giving EU nationals the right to stay benefits us all

I’m feeling quite nervous this afternoon. The House of Lords is debating an amendment which would give EU nationals who have made their homes here the right to stay. The Government is expected to be defeated and I hope very much that this will be the case and that we won’t have the disgraceful scenes we saw on Monday when the so called opposition were whipped to reject an amendment on the single market.

For me, this is something very personal – and also a bit selfish. Like virtually everyone else, I have friends who are EU nationals. They live here. This is their home. I don’t want to see them used as bargaining chips. My neighbours are from Poland. I don’t want them to have any worries about whether they will be forced to uproot their lives and disrupt their daughter’s education.

Those things are important, but as many of you will know, my husband was seriously ill at the end of last year. He is making a good recovery thanks to the excellent specialist medical care he received. The surgeon who saved his life and who sped back into the hospital at dead of night when there was a problem to operate again is Italian. He’s the same surgeon, actually, who saved the life of Nicola Sturgeon’s father-in-law. His registrar is from Greece. The nurse who looked after him in ITU so skilfully was also Italian. I want them to have the right to live here unimpeded for two reasons. First of all, it’s the right thing to do. Secondly, I don’t want to lose their skills which make Edinburgh one of the best places for cardio-thoracic surgery in the UK. 

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Sarah Olney holds first Westminster Hall debate on Heathrow expansion

There’s a lot of firsts when you are a new MP. Your first Early Day Motion (like a House of Commons petition), your first speech, your first question, and your first Westminster Hall debate. These debates, held outside the main chamber, concentrate on one subject and allow an MP to raise an issue directly with the Minister.

It will be of no surprise that Sarah’s first Westminster Hall debate was on the subject of Heathrow expansion and the effects in terms of road congestion and pollution of a bigger airport.

You can read the full debate – including the Deputy Speaker’s rebukes to both Sarah and a colleague for breaking the rules and a fairly patronising response from the Minister – here. Below is Sarah’s speech in full.

And she shouldn’t worry about a minor rebuke from the Speaker. Others have done worse and survived. Willie Rennie forgot to turn his phone off before one debate in 2007 and got a right telling off when one of his staff (not me) rang him during a Westminster Hall debate.

This is what Sarah said yesterday:

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£1 million donation for Lib Dems helps party oppose Brexit

As a member of the Party’s Federal Board and Federal Finance and Resources Committee, I knew that the party were to receive a £1 million donation. We were not told who had donated it. We were told that we would only find out along with everyone else when it was published by the Electoral Commission – which it will be on Thursday. However, the FT has the inside track and has this story today:

The donation from Greg Nasmyth, whose family made its fortune from Argus Media, the energy information business, will be reported on Thursday when Electoral Commission figures are published. It comes as the Lib Dems gain momentum as an anti-Brexit party, committed to advocating a referendum on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU. Mr Nasmyth is understood to have been motivated by the party’s position on the EU and also on green issues. He agreed the donation in July, soon after the Brexit vote. It was finally made in October in the run-up to the December by-election in Richmond Park, where the Lib Dem candidate ousted the Brexit-backing millionaire Zac Goldsmith.

Securing this donation is an excellent achievement by the Fundraising team at party HQ. They will need to bring in substantially more than this very generous donation if the party is to properly oppose Brexit. Labour are clearly not interested in standing in the Government’s way. The Liberal Democrats are unique in British politics – a UK wide party which opposes brexit in general and Theresa May’s Brexit Max in particular with every fibre of its being. We have a great message and talented and innovative campaigners. What we need are the resources to deliver that message to the people on an unprecedented scale for us. That is the challenge for party Treasurer Mike German and the fundraising team at HQ. 

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Newby: Brexiteers will not intimidate the Lords

In an interview for The House magazine, Lib Dem Lords leader Dick Newby has said that support in the Lords is growing for a referendum on the Brexit deal. However, he says that even if that amendment is lost, the campaign for the people, not MPs or the Government, to have a final say on the deal, will continue:

But the fight for a second vote will not stop once Article 50 has been triggered, Newby insists. Indeed, “it’s just the beginning”, he adds, saying the Great Repeal Bill and other Brexit legislation could be amended. In the meantime, the Lib Dems will be campaigning across the country arguing the case for a do over.

Newby says it would be “implausible” for MPs not to grant a second referendum if public opinion shifts in favour of Remain in the coming months. Parliament bequeathed the decision on EU membership to the public once, why would it prevent it again, he queries.

“We will look at every opportunity to get this provision for a vote of the people at the end,” he declares. But are Tony Blair, who has called on Remainers to “rise up” against Brexit, peers et al the right figureheads of this movement? “I think that everybody involved in public life has a right to make the argument, but this is a people’s issue now… it’s not in the hands of the Commons.”

He was speaking before Monday’s vote in which an amendment calling for us to stay in the single market was lost because Labour peers were whipped to oppose it. There are still hopes that at least the right to remain for EU nationals will pass.

There has been a bit of an onslaught from the Brexiteers, predicting all manner of consequences if the Lords dares to do its job and scrutinise the Government’s legislation.  Dick says that peers won’t be overly bothered by the invective coming their way.

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Brexit – it’s time to stop looking for someone to blame and take action!

Last Friday marked 8 months since I woke up in disbelief at the outcome of the EU referendum. That morning, I looked at my 3 month old daughter, and feared what the result could mean for the U.K in the short, medium and long term. Ever since that result, as events have unfolded, I have been lost as to whom I should direct my despair at:

  • Should it be David Cameron for calling the Referendum, which he did not believe in, purely to solve internal divisions in his own party?
  • Should it be the right wing press (such as the Daily Mail and Daily Express) for all of the years they have blamed the EU for all of the problems in the country, that were in fact the failings of a number of governments?
  • Should it be Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and the rest of Vote Leave for putting together a campaign full of lies, most notably that ridiculous bus claiming £350m a week for the NHS?
  • Should it be at the likes of Arron Banks and Nigel Farage for spreading xenophobia and having the hypocrisy to pretend they are men of the people?
  • Should it be at the 17m voters who were persuaded by their arguments?
  • Should it be at all those involved in planning the Stronger In campaign for failing to articulate why the UK hugely benefits from the EU and the Single Market? Rather than only focusing on a negative economic message that clearly did not get through.
  • Should it be at the BBC for being so concerned about being seen as balanced, they made the Brexit arguments seem credible!
  • Should it be at our unelected Prime Minister who is ignoring half of the population and claims to be able to read the minds of the other half! A Prime Minster who is setting off on a course to drive the economy over a cliff (notably ignoring a manifesto pledge to stay in the Single Market)?
  • Should it be at my own MP Jeremy Corbyn (who does not reply to my emails) and the rest of the Labour leadership for failing to provide any credible opposition whatsoever over the last 8 months?
  • Should it be at the arch Brexiteers like Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg who banged on about sovereignty but then decried when independent High Court and Supreme Court Judges upheld it?
  • Should it be at all those Labour and Conservative MPs who voted for the Article 50 bill in the full knowledge that it would be harmful to the country?
  • Should it be at myself for failing to get involved in progressive politics until I was 31, only joining the Lib Dems a few weeks before the Referendum (although I had been meaning to for years) and only getting properly active (outside of social media rants) in the last few weeks?

I have now realised that, although I still feel all of this despair is justified, just looking to blame any person or group for where we are is not going to help. Ranting on social media will do no good. As Tony Blair said recently, it’s time to rise up! 

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAlistair 1st Mar - 8:11pm
    "there is no way that Britain would deport EU Citizens" - really? How can you state that with any confidence? There are various reasons why...
  • User AvatarAlistair 1st Mar - 8:04pm
    BoJo couldnt even get Gove to sign a deal in ink and we know how the pencil deal went....
  • User AvatarAlistair 1st Mar - 8:02pm
    A national model that creates a global economy? You mean a tax haven?
  • User AvatarAnnabel 1st Mar - 7:43pm
    Well, as a BeLeaver, I am very pleased that HoL has voted for European citizens currently living here to be allowed to stay after Brexit,...
  • User AvatarAlistair 1st Mar - 7:42pm
    How many Brits living abroad have I heard complaining about Brexit? Many. How many have I heard demanding that Britain refuses to make proposals about...
  • User AvatarAlistair 1st Mar - 7:38pm
    Empty rhetoric Mark. Do explain why Spain is less or more likely to let Brits stay if the UK makes a unilateral decision? Even if...