Author Archives: Catherine Bearder MEP

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Golden opportunity to end the illegal ivory trade wasted

serious-about-willdife-crime-picI was honoured to be part of the European Parliament’s observer delegation to the CITES CoP17 in South Africa. As a campaigner for wildlife protection I know the opportunity to influence protection at the highest level is rare.

Before I headed to South Africa I voted in favour of a European Parliament resolution calling for all elephants to be listed on Appendix 1 of CITES (the Convention in Trade of Endangered Species) This would mean in effect a total ban on the international trade in elephants.

The resolution was overwhelmingly supported by MEPs which shows the European Parliament’s strong opposition to the trade in elephants and their ivory which in the past decade alone has seen the loss of 110,000 African elephants as a result of poaching and the massive global demand for ivory tusks as well as for trophy hunting.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes: Churchill and Mandela would have been with us on the March for Europe

As thousands of Brits marched across the uk to show their support for our continued EU membership relationship I was with Liberal Democrat president Sal Brinton, past MEP Sarah Ludford and many other activists, PPCs, councillors, new and old members and others who wanted to be with the Liberal Democrats in our fight to get the best for our country post the referendum result.

The organisers were initially determined not to allow any elected political speakers on to the platform.  It seems the phrase ‘cross party’ had again been confused with ‘no party’, despite the speakers from the world of entertainment and media clearly having political affiliations.  However, sense and justice prevailed and I was allowed to speak to the assembled crowds.  It seemed only fair as the Liberal Democrats formed a major part of the March, and for that I must say thank you to Kelly-Marie Blundell and her team for organising us all and making sure our voice is heard across the country.

This then is the gist of what I said….

For every one who is marching to day, not just here in London, but right across the country, there are hundreds who are not on a march, but are with us in spirit.  They know as you do that this campaign was fought on lies and untruths and the question was simplistic.  The result cannot therefore be allowed to stand.  Reasons for voters supporting leave were varied, and we now know that what they were asked to vote on – Brexit – is a total unknown.  No one knows what it is.  Even the Brexiteers still don’t know what they want.

So many people and European flags flying is good to see, but there are two other people in this square with us who would be joining us if they could, one is Winston Churchill, the other is Nelson Mandela.  They both recognised that working together across borders is the best way to deliver peace and prosperity for all. They would be horrified to think there is a possibility of the UK leaving the best and biggest club on the planet.   We have to do all we can to stop that, and if we can’t we must make sure that we get the best deal possible – and then put that deal to the voters in the UK.

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Lib Dems will offer an optimistic alternative to Brexit Britain

It’s been a tough few weeks for all of us who believe in the European ideals of cooperation, openness and trade between nations. But as if the referendum result was not bad enough, the aftermath has left the UK the laughing stock of the world. First there was the resignation and disappearance of many of those who led the Leave campaign and the shameless disowning of key pledges on the NHS and immigration. Then last week a number of leading Tory Brexiteers were elevated by Theresa May to the highest offices of the state.

We have seen Brexit Minister David …

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Thanks to all for a positive campaign

IntogetherThis has been a tough week for us all. It’s followed the hard work in the build-up to voting day, the exhaustion of the day itself and the dreadful night as the results saw the collapse of the political and structural certainties we have all come to understand.

Firstly I want to give a huge thanks to all those up and down the country who have worked their socks off campaigning to keep the UK in the EU. Ours was a positive, passionate and patriotic campaign. It was always going to be a tough fight, trying to reverse in a matter of weeks the anti-EU propaganda and anti-establishment mood that built up over many years. But the Lib Dems stood firm, and our thousands of activists can be proud that when the time came, they stood up for the values we hold dear and for what we believe was firmly in the national interest.

On my return to Brussels on Monday, the overwhelming mood amongst my fellow MEPs was not one of anger, but of huge shock and sadness. Sad that a country that they love and admire could be so led astray by the lies and deception of the Leave campaign, and sad for the millions of young people who overwhelmingly voted to remain but who are set to be deprived of the opportunities EU membership brings. There was a spontaneous sign written on the windows of the European Parliament that simply said: “We will miss you.” This is the real European Union. Not faceless bureaucrats, but real people from all over Europe working together, celebrating our differences and eccentricities and doing our best to respond to big common challenges. That’s a vision that millions of people in the UK share. And it’s one we must stand up for in the difficult months and years ahead.

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100 Days to go to secure our place in Europe

There are now just 100 days to secure Britain’s place in Europe. There is so much at stake. If we leave, the country faces a future of uncertainty, isolation and diminished influence in the world. If we stay we will secure opportunity, prosperity and security for future generations and we can lead the way in shaping a better, more liberal Europe.

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Government U-turns on EU flood funding in victory for Lib Dems

As many of you know Tim Farron and I have been fighting for months to persuade the government to apply for EU solidarity funding for flood victims. The European Commission had confirmed to me last December that this money was there for the taking, so it was flabbergasting that the government had so far refused to apply on the flimsy grounds that it would not offer immediate help (an application takes a few months to process). The real reason I suspect was that the government was worried about upsetting its eurosceptic backbenchers by asking for help from the rest of Europe in a time of need.

So it came as something of a shock to find out today that finally the Conservatives have U-turned and will be making a last-minute application. This is a huge victory for the Liberal Democrats, who have been piling the pressure on the government on this issue from day one. And of course it is fantastic news for the communities across the North of England and Scotland whose lives were turned upside-down by the floods and who will finally get the additional funding they deserve.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Nominate a hard-working local activist or councillor for a Europe leader award

I am encouraging Lib Dem members to help me nominate a hard-working local activist or councillor for the Europe-wide Local Leader award.

Last year I was delighted when two of my nominations, Andrew Nesbitt from Scotland and David Tutt from Eastbourne made it through to the final round. I was hugely proud that David went on to win the prize for “Achievement in Government”.  I know that we have lots of talented people working hard on their communities, so do let me know so I can nominate them.

The Liberal group in Europe (ALDE) are offering a variety of awards for exceptional local representatives of European liberal parties. The award categories on offer are:

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