Author Archives: NewsHound

LibLink: Christine Jardine: The country cannot afford a Summer of Brexit discontent

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine has set out some thoughts on our strategy as we respond to the total mess that the Tories are making of the Brexit negotiations.

In an article for the Times Red Box (£), she sets the scene:

The internal squabbling of our chancellor, foreign secretary, and Brexit secretary — to name just a few of the clowns at play — is making the chances of a poor deal for the UK, or a catastrophic failure to get a deal at all, all the more likely.

Instead of knuckling down and approaching negotiations with a seriousness befitting the task, Davis has so far shown up to a photo-op without even pretending to have the necessary papers and briefings, then taking the first Eurostar home. No doubt heading straight back to the journalists to criticise his leader. It rather undermines the negotiation of critical issues like EU citizens’ rights, a solution for Northern Ireland and the UK’s debt to the EU when your so-called chief negotiator would rather be at home leaking cabinet papers.

But this is all part of a hard hearted strategy. She thinks that they are trying to create such a bad atmosphere that in a year’s time, they walk way blaming the EU for the failure.

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LibLink: Miriam Gonzalez Durantez: How to beat the ticking Brexit clock: let British business leaders do the talking

There are few people in this country who have as much experience in negotiating international trade deals as Miriam Gonzalez Durantez.  In her Made in Spain book published last year, she drops casually into a recipe that she came across guacamole when she helped to negotiate the EU-Mexico trade agreement.

She’s written in the Guardian about the many dangerous mistakes that the Government is making in its approach to the EU negotiations.

She has some scary observations about who is influencing these proceedings:

British business leaders were asked to share the table with the Legatum Institute, a thinktank with unparalleled access to Davis and Theresa May and that seems to have been at the origin of some of the preposterous positions on Brexit taken by the government so far. Its inexplicable presence at that table was the clearest signal that the government has not changed its views on Brexit after the general election even one tiny little bit.

The institute has established a special commission on trade that consists of more than 20 people with different “trade” backgrounds. It is run by a British American director. The Legatum member who has just been nominated the UK’s new chief trade negotiation adviser is a New Zealander. The funding of the institute comes from a foundation that is part of a Dubai-based private investment group. So much for the UK “taking back control”.

The Government invited 33 business leaders to a discussion with this organisation recently. She goes on to show how this institute may have influenced the Government’s comments on things like “frictionless” access to the single market.

Miriam goes on to describe exactly why such an approach is completely unrealistic:

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LibLink: Layla Moran: If Philip Hammond thinks driving a train is so easy “even a woman can do it” maybe a career change is in order

In an article for the Independent at the weekend, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran took Philip Hammond to task for his alleged remark that driving a train is so easy “even a woman can do it.”

She pointed out that they can, but how many women do this highly paid job?

The key fact from the latest Hammond row was glossed over, but it is the real scandal: that just 5.5 per cent of train drivers are women. And the average annual salary of a train driver is just shy of £50,000, way higher than most women earn a year. What, I want to know, are ministers doing to enable more women to drive trains?

Hammond, she said, had form for sexist remarks:

Earlier this year he accused Labour MP Mary Creagh of being “hysterical”. Her crime? Daring to ask the Chancellor about the effect of Brexit on British businesses with bases in Ireland.

The question was all too pertinent. I was talking to one of the country’s most eminent constitutional lawyers last week (sorry Philip, but she did happen to be female) who flagged up the issue of the Irish border as one of the very most intractable in Brexit negotiations. Her conclusion was that ministers have no solution, because there is no solution.

And, of course, he is not the only Tory known for such casual sexism:

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LibLink: Kirsty William: It’s not about whether we charge tuition fees. In Wales, we’ve found a third way

The one Liberal Democrat left in national government, Kirsty Williams, has written an article for the Guardian in which she sets out what she is introducing in Wales – a plan to help students with living costs which will support part time and postgraduate students too:

The new support package in Wales will cover those who start their course in 2018/19, wherever in the UK they choose to study. Every student will be entitled to support equivalent to the national living wage. This means that eligible full-time students will receive maintenance support of £11,250 if they study in London and £9,000 per year elsewhere if they live away from home.

This will be delivered through a mix of loans and grants, unlike in England where zero maintenance grants are available. Very small, limited grants are available in Scotland, but they too are currently reviewing the system.

Welsh students from the lowest household income will receive the highest grant – £8,100 in their pocket, and more in London. Our estimates suggest that a third of full-time students will be eligible for that full grant.

Furthermore, our data shows that the average household income for a student in our current system is around £25,000. Under the new system such a student will receive around £7,000 a year in their pocket.

However, potentially the most radical element of our reforms is to provide equivalent support for part-time and postgraduate students. Wales will be the first in Europe to achieve this. For the first time, part-time undergraduates will receive similar support for maintenance, pro-rata to their full-time counterparts.

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Another civil liberties victory for the Scottish Lib Dems

Over the years, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been responsible for a number of changes in policing and civil liberties policies in Scotland. After we led the opposition, the Scottish Government had to abandon plans for a super ID database that would have made Labour’s look like a champion of civil liberties. Alison McInnes, when she was Justice Spokesperson in the last Parliament, successfully fought both routine arming of the Police and indiscriminate stop and search.

That record continues as the Lib Dems have now ensured that Police Scotland has deleted records of half a billion numberplates captured under numberplate recognition.

From Scotland on Sunday:

The climbdown comes after a Lib Dem Freedom of Information request last year revealed that 852,507,524 number plate records captured by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras across the country were held in a Police Scotland database, with data available from as far back as 2009. Data retention laws require that any such information is only kept for crimes, while all other data must be deleted. The Lib Dems had expressed concern that the retention of so much information relating to innocent individuals was infringing on people’s civil liberties. The number of records deleted was revealed by the police in response to another Freedom of Information request submitted by the Lib Dems. Information provided by the police showed 547,459,904 number plate records had been disposed of.

Scottish Lib Dem Justice Spokesperson Liam McArthur said:

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“Very good” Lib Dem statement on EU-Japan trade deal

The Lib Dems were praised today by Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt over shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake’s comments on the Brexit Bill.

Tom said:

Last year the Government estimated that an EU-Japan Free Trade Deal  could be worth £5 billion annually to the UK economy – roughly £200 per household. Sadly, by the time the agreement with Japan gets fully ratified, it is very likely the UK will be out of the EU.

Despite a change in public opinion,

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Lib Dems poll 20% among children and young people

Thanks to York Membery for pointing us in the direction of the First News election poll. The newspaper aimed at children polled its readers and found that the Liberal Democrats are on 20%, which compares very well with our current poll ratings of rather less than that.

The Tories were only able to muster 27%, while Labour were ahead with 32%. The Greens took 15%.

This shows that there is definitely hope for the future.

It’s interesting to see that so many young children have a good impression of us, especially as …

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  • User AvatarDavid Evans 28th Jul - 3:53pm
    Simon, I agree with you when you say "it is quite clear that quite a lot of them already think they were straightforwardly misled by...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 28th Jul - 3:34pm
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  • User Avatarexpats 28th Jul - 3:32pm
    Martin 28th Jul '17 - 1:39pm..........Just how confused and incoherent do you have to be on Brexit?.... Being seen as a 'one-trick-pony' didn't do LibDems...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Jul - 3:26pm
    We should assume that France, and therefore the EU27, will want to maintain Appellation Controlee status on Bresse chickens in the UK after Brexit. Heston...
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    The number of 16-24 olds that may take-up the offer of guaranteed employment is estimated at around 300,000 based on an assessment of the CIPS...
  • User AvatarMike 28th Jul - 3:22pm
    @David Raw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw is more appropriate than Baez, surely. @David Pocock: 'Consider the hated capitalism. Now tell me what economic system has produced more liberal...
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