Article 50 invoked: Lib Dem reaction: The fight goes on

So, the deed is done, but the Liberal Democrats aren’t giving up the fight.

Here’s how senior Liberal Democrats have reacted:

Tim Farron – The people must have their say

The world needs liberal democratic values – this is something Churchill, Thatcher and others rightly decided that Britain could deliver from our place at the heart of Europe.

I believe the Prime Minister is twisting the will of the people, leaping into the abyss without any idea of where our country will end up.   In her statement the Prime Minister admitted we would lose influence as a result.

Theresa May has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the Single Market before she has even tried to negotiate.

Membership of the Single Market was not on the ballot paper last June, yet without a mandate she has chosen to rip Britain, our businesses and our people out of the world’s biggest market.

It is still possible for the British people to stop a hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. And if they want, it is still possible for the British people to choose to remain in the European Union. Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June – and it hasn’t ended today either. The people can have their say over what comes next.

It is a tragedy that Labour are helping the Conservatives in doing this damage to our country.  They no longer deserve to be called the Official Opposition. Britain deserves better than this.

Catherine Bearder MEP: The clock is ticking – but it can be stopped

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LibLink: Tim Farron: British voters must have the final say on the Brexit deal

In today’s Guardian, Tim Farron sets out the case for the people to decide in a referendum whether they wish to accept the terms of Brexit or remain in the EU after all.

He sets out what Theresa May is up to:

Theresa May’s tactic is clear: to accuse anyone who dares question her headlong, blindfold charge towards hard Brexit of being democracy deniers. This despite it looking increasingly likely that the result of her reckless, divisive Brexit will be to leave the single market and not reduce immigration – the very opposite of what Brexiteers pitched to the people.

Then he sets out the case for a referendum on the deal:

It was May’s choice to plumb for the hardest and most divisive Brexit, taking us out of the single market before she has even tried to negotiate. That’s why we believe the people should have the final say. Someone will: it will either be politicians or the people. If the people decide they don’t like the deal on offer, they should have the option to remain in the European Union.

This is simply too big to trust to politicians. May wants to hijack David Cameron’s mandate from the general election to deliver hard Brexit. Meanwhile, the recent tough talk from Keir Starmer won’t hide Labour’s feeble deeds: voting for Brexit, failing to stick up for the right of EU nationals to remain, and even now only really threatening to abstain rather than vote against the final deal. I have heard of loyal opposition, but this is craven.

And he points out that the outcome is likely to be far from what people voted for – and that’s going to be the fault of blinkered ministers:

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Sarah Olney interview part 3: Politics

You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

It’s not even been two years since you joined the party, and you are now sitting in the famous House of Commons. Has it sunk in yet?

Not really. One of the things I think is quite strange is how familiar it is when you enter because you see the House of Commons on tele so much. It doesn’t actually feel that strange in there. The weirdest thing I’ve experienced while there was when waiting for one of the votes, the Article 50 one I think, I was chatting with Caroline Lucas, and I got a text from my husband saying ‘You look really grumpy!’ It was just the weirdest thing. I was just sitting there having a chat, and my husband is watching me on the tele at home. When someone does something like that, it’s really weird.

In your short time as an MP, what are your likes and dislikes of the role so far?

The best bit is getting out and meeting people. I see people doing all sorts of different things. As an accountant, I was chained to my desk for eight hours a day while seeing the same old faces. Now I get to go into schools, workplaces and hospitals. I’m meeting different types of people, including staff, customers and patients. You get such a better idea of how the world works and how different people relate to each other. That is fabulous and a real privilege. It’s only MPs who get the opportunity to do that.

I like having the opportunity to contribute to the debates I feel passionate about. There was a schools funding one recently. It was brilliant to be able to stand up and talk about something I care about. I have kids at school, and my dad’s a teacher. To speak about that and, hopefully, to have some impact is great.

I dislike the way some people feel that they are entitled to have a go at you just because you are an MP. You might not have done anything in particular, but you are there to be shouted at.

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Blue Wednesday

So, the day has arrived. I’m wearing blue, as Roger Roberts suggested, for 3 reasons. As the Government  carries out the worst assault on our children’s future I have seen in my lifetime, I’m  doing this for three reasons. Out of sadness at what today means for our future, out of pride in the EU’s values of peace and collaboration – and out of defiance. I will not stand by why the Government destroys our country. I will take every opportunity for peaceful resistance as this incompetent and reckless government puts us all in harm’s way.

I will not stand by while the Government refuses to give us a say on the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations. What sort of democracy is that? People voted to take back control, not hand all power to ideological brexiteers who do all they can to avoid checks and scrutiny. Who would you rather had the final say on your future? You, or Theresa and her trio of Brexiteers?

That Theresa May has the nerve to suggest that the country should come together behind her shows how out of touch and comfortable with power her Government is. It’s that old saying about power corrupting. With a Labour Party missing in action, waving its demands as the Brexit horse bolts down the road, May thinks she can do what she likes. She has made no attempt to build any bridges whatever with the almost half of us who voted Remain.

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Passing the buck: A right fine mess at the Department for Education

Well, there it is. According to the TES, in the brave new world of Justine Greening’s Department for Education, a GCSE pass is now a grade 4. Except when it is a 5, because a 5 is also a pass. And just to remind you, the top grade is a 9, and the bottom grade a 1. Except maybe it’s a zero. Nobody really knows anymore, so don’t feel too left out.

And don’t panic, if you’re a student, a parent or a teacher. Because all will be well. Don’t listen to anyone who complains about the government not knowing what a GCSE pass actually means a mere 6 weeks before the exams. If we all stay united, Britain is unstoppable, remember. It’s just the moaners who bring us all down.

Still sceptical? As well you might be. It’s worth recalling how we ended up here, with the government announcing that a GCSE pass is both a grade 4 and a grade 5 rather like Boris Johnson when he announced he wanted to have his euro cake and eat it.

That’s the problem with nonsense. Like misbehaviour in schools, when one minister gets away with it, the others all start to copy. First it was Boris, then David Davis and Liam Fox with their pirouettes on the Single Market and immigration, and now it’s Justine Greening in education.

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Game on in Gorton – By-election on 4th May

It was never going to be any other day, but the writ for the Manchester Gorton by-eleciton has now been moved and the poll will take place on 4th May.

Lib Dem candidate Jackie Pearcey had this to say on Twitter:

Tim Farron sent members an email asking them for money to boost Jackie’s campaign. He said:

We’ve already been hard at work for weeks, and we now have another 36 days to pull off something incredible.

In contrast, Labour has only just selected its candidate. George Galloway cancelled an event in Paisley last weekend due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Presumably that meant he was in the constituency over the weekend. I am sure we are all waiting to see Jackie take him on at hustings.

4th May is going to be a tad busy, shall we say. As well as the by-election, there is a council by-eelction in a ward in the constituency and the Greater Manchester mayoral election.

Want to get involved in the campaign?

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On Article 50 Eve, what are senior Liberal Democrats saying?

Who’s Eve, I hear you ask? Well, for me, as an ardent pro EU supporter, tonight feels a bit like Christmas Eve when you know that somehow you have found your way on to the Naughty List and all that’s going to be in your stocking in the morning is a lump of coal.

For those Leave voters who were duped into thinking that everything was going to be hunky dory if we could just get rid of that pesky EU, the reality may well prove far worse than that.

One thing is for sure. The Brexiteers will be held rigorously to account by the one party which has opposed them from the start – us.

Labour’s six tests unveiled on Sunday were, to paraphrase the old Commodores song, too much, too little, too late to ever trust them again. Their best chance of success would have been to support the Liberal Democrats’ bid to add a parachute to the Article 50 Bill, but they chose not to do so. They will not be easily forgiven.

Tomorrow is a very big day. It’s much more than the delivery of a letter. It’s the first step on a perilous journey, driven by people who haven’t got a clue what they are doing. The Government approaches the negotiations in such a mean-spirited, graceless fug of self-righteousness. I have rarely had such little confidence in any group of people as I do in them.

Ahead of Article 50 being invoked tomorrow, Tim Farron had this to say:

Theresa May is about to take the plunge on the biggest decision to hit the UK in modern times.

She is pulling the trigger that will set in motion a chain of events which will change this country forever, and doing so without a proper plan, without a proper team of negotiators and without proper protections for millions of people who have been left in the lurch.

It is still possible for the British people to stop a Hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. And if they want, it is still possible for the British people to decide to remain in the European Union.

Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June – and it hasn’t ended today either. Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting to make sure the people can have their say over what comes next.

There are some serious worries out there that the Government, rather than face up to its own shortcomings, will flounce off from the negotiations towards the end of this year, saying that the EU is being so intransigent that there’s no point sticking with it and we’re just leaving with no deal. Nick Clegg has set out why that is a bad idea on the Liberal Democrats’ website. Here’s a couple of examples:

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    Fair enough. Thanks for the correction. We got 22% in 2005 and 23% in 2010. Net loss of 5 seats though. I think my overall...
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