Tag Archives: featured

How Brexit will ruin the British motorsport industry

F1 1Formula 1 motor racing is a major industry in the United Kingdom, and it is kind of something we can brag about. Between 2005 and 2015 every single world champion (bar one) drove a car which was designed, engineered and built in Britain. The Mercedes driven by Lewis Hamilton this season is built in Brackley near Silverstone, its engine and hybrid system comes from Brixworth near Northampton. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the British motorsport industry leads the world, it directly employs tens of thousands of highly skilled people across as many as 4,500 companies (probably more) and brings many billions of pounds into the UK economy.

The technologies being pioneered in Formula 1 have seen fuel efficiency improvements to levels which just two years ago were thought to be science fiction. These are gains which will in the near future be applied to mass market road cars around the world reducing CO2 emissions and pollutants across the board and all of these innovations are British.

But all of this is now under serious and immediate threat. The motorsport industry in the UK could be decimated by Brexit. Brexit you see means a lot more than Brexit (a made up word which first appeared in 2012) it means a substantial change to many areas of life and industry. Right now due to the dithering and indecision of our current leadership nobody really knows what the impact of Brexit will be, but it seems pretty obvious that the EU will take a tough stance against the UK as a lesson to other nations such as France and the Netherlands which are also considering their own futures in the union.

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Lord Dick Newby writes…We have more chance of breaking the mould of British politics than we had in 1981

House of Lords chamberIt was a great honour to be elected Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group in the Lords earlier this week. The challenge facing me and my colleagues is straightforward. How do we help the Party occupy as much as possible of the centre and centre left of British politics – ground which is currently vacant?

Obviously we can do our bit by trying to defeat or amend the worst of the Tory legislation. We face a Tory government unrestrained, Labour are not doing their job as the opposition. It is the Liberal Democrats who have to step up to the plate and be the real voice of opposition. We held the Government to account last session on tax credits, trade union reform and refugee children. We will seek to do so in coming months, for example on Investigatory Powers. And if we ever see any legislation promoting grammar schools, we can guarantee it a rough ride in the Lords.

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Conference Countdown 2016: Five things to do this weekend to prepare for Conference

This time next week, many of us will be heading down to Conference in Brighton. I won’t be as I have the particular joy of the 6:25 am flight from Edinburgh to look forward to on Saturday morning.

Here are some top tips for pre-conference preparation which will help you get the best out of the event. Once you are in the fast moving frenzy of our four days in Brighton, it’s difficult to find the space to take stock and plan. Putting the time in now to work out what you want to do will pay dividends.

So, here are a few things you can do this weekend to make sure you are properly prepared. In no particular order…

Get your ticket for the Lib Dem Disco

Cambridge Lib Dems have captured the Saturday evening conference market with their annual disco. It is hilarious, with guest DJs competing against each other. Last year Jo Swinson triumphed in spectacular style. Buzzfeed were there to report it all and take video, so don’t be under any misapprehension that what happens at Lib Dem Disco stays at Lib Dem Disco.

I came second to Alistair Carmichael in the DJ competition 2 years ago. I went slightly off-message with the Disco theme as we were in Scotland. I thought it might be a really good idea to get lots of people who may have had the odd wee drink doing the Gay Gordons at 11 o’clock at night. When I suggested this to the organisers, they replied: “Your proposal for carnage is appealing.”

In the end it was pretty civilised and, thanks to Paul Walter, there is video.

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Reversing Conservative cuts remains the big social security challenge

The conference policy paper on “Mending the Safety Net” contains lots of good stuff on a wide range of welfare policy, even if I say so as a member of its working group. But, at Conference and beyond, I think it’s important not to get distracted from the big issue of the £13bn of cuts planned by the Conservatives. Reversing these – and indeed going further – is what will make the biggest difference to people’s lives, to UK inequality and even to the economy (and hopefully win a few votes in the process). Within this, here are three goals that the party should be fighting for.

Increasing working-age benefits in line with inflation – and ultimately earnings

George Osborne announced that most non-pensioner benefits would be frozen at their 2015 levels for 4 more years. Even before the Brexit vote, this was expected to be a massive drag on living standards. But inflation over the next few years is now expected to be higher than previously predicted – driven by rising import prices due to the weaker pound – and unemployment is predicted to rise too. This means the freeze will be even harsher than Osborne intended. And if the economy at any point needs a boost through fiscal policy, cutting the incomes of poorer households would be just about the worst policy you can think of, as The Economist recently noted.

So the party should be pressuring the new Chancellor to scrap the freeze and increase working-age benefits in line with inflation. But the policy paper goes further and argues that benefits should ultimately rise in line with average earnings – alongside a return to some form of housing cost link for Housing Benefit (soon to be part of UC). This would help ensure that when the economy and tax receipts are growing, everyone shares in that and inequality doesn’t widen. It may sound boring, but choices about benefit uprating in the long-term can compound to be more important than almost any other welfare or tax choice for poverty and inequality.

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Tim Farron MP writes…A Liberal Democrat plan for Britain in Europe

Today, I am announcing a plan to keep Britain at the heart of Europe. First and foremost, I believe the British people should be given the right to vote on the government’s negotiated Brexit deal.

Voting for a departure is not the same as voting for a destination. This is not an attempt to re-run the first referendum; we must respect the result. But the British people should be allowed to choose what comes next, to ensure it is right for them, their families, their jobs and our country. Our relationship with Europe affects our economy, our security, climate change, our influence in the world and so much more.

Until people get that choice, we will hold the Conservative Brexit Government to account and fight to make sure that Britain gets the best deal possible. So I am also setting out our approach on everything from the triggering of article 50 to the rights of EU citizens in the UK. While all the other parties are ducking these vital issues, we are tackling them head on. These questions are simply too important to ignore.

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Tim Farron to launch Lib Dem plan for Britain in Europe

Last week, I took part in a Conference call with Tim Farron and was very reassured at the strength of his resolve to ensure that the UK has the strongest possible role in Europe. Our commitment to campaign to stay in the EU, or rejoin if we leave remains at the heart of what we will offer the British people at the next General Election.

In that call, we found out that Tim would be doing something that the Government with all its massive resources hasn’t managed to get it together to do – launching an actual plan for Britain’s future in Europe which he will do tomorrow morning.

He sets out a seven point plan which covers everything from free movement and access to the single market, to environmental and law and order concerns. He insists that the British people should have the chance to vote on any Brexit deal before it becomes final. It has to be said that there’s not a huge distance between the criteria for negotiation and actually keeping Britain in the EU but all of these things are absolutely essential for the next generation’s future prosperity.

This plan should reassure those members who were concerned that we were stepping back from our earlier statements. IN fact, what Tim will say later today reinforces what he’s been saying since the referendum:

We demand that the British people should have their say on the final deal in a referendum. And in the meantime we will hold the Conservative Brexit Government to account and fight for the best possible deal for Britain.

Voting for departure is not the same as voting for a destination. Brexit means Brexit but we still don’t know if that means £350m a week extra for the NHS, immigration controls or membership of the Single Market. This is not an attempt to re-run the first referendum. It is to enable the public to vote on the final deal, reflecting that there is disagreement even in the cabinet over every major aspect of Brexit.

The British people should be allowed to choose what comes next, to ensure it is right for them, their families, their jobs and our country. Our relationship with Europe affects our economy, our security, climate change, our influence in the world and so much more.

“Our policy on Europe is simple: we want to stay in the European Union. We wanted that the day before the referendum, we wanted it the day after and we want it today.

The Liberal Democrats are now the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit government, and are fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

In Summary: The Lib Dem Plan for Britain in Europe

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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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Recent Comments

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    Sorry to go slightly off-topic but theres a new Poll (covered on Political Betting) which suggests that a new "Anti-Brexit Party" would get 26%, 7%...
  • User Avatartonyhill 22nd Oct - 8:07pm
    I hope this discussion helps to dissuade those in this country who have pushed the case for electronic voting. For voting to be fair there...
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    This week's Economist magazine has a three page article on why people hate Hillary Clinton. They have an international readership and need to be credible...
  • User AvatarJohn Tracey 22nd Oct - 7:20pm
    No wonder people voted to leave. They were right, it is impossible to deal with these people.
  • User AvatarJ Dunn 22nd Oct - 7:10pm
    Gordon is confident that : "One key lesson is surely that the Brexiteers’ promises are fantasy." I suppose, the obvious response of course, is let's...
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