Tag Archives: house of lords

Post-referendum positivity isn’t foolish

I was taken in by Saturday’s April 1st joke on the pages of The Liberal Democrat Voice: that we should stop “remoaning”, and be a bit more positive about the Brexit process No doubt some readers will call me foolish, but I absolutely agreed with the thrust of the article. After all, many a true word’s spoken in jest…

So here are three reasons for my optimism:

1) Moving past the romanticism of the EU would help, not hinder a more pragmatic pro-European cause. During both the referendum and the period before Article 50 was triggered, extreme arguments flourished on both sides: a nostalgia for British Imperialism or a desire for “Singapore on steroids” on the one hand, and too romantic an image of the EU on the other. Having lived in Europe — both in the EU and in Switzerland — I am surprised at how much fellow Liberal Democrats idealise the EU as an organisation. One that, in the romantic story, has simply enabled individuals across the continent to lead freer lives, become more open-minded, and move beyond ugly nationalism. Now that Article 50 has been triggered, the negotiations will pour cold water on so much idealism — on both sides of the Brexit divide.

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Newby: May’s Brexit plan will make us poorer, less generous and diminished as a nation

Lib Dem Lords Leader Dick Newby threw some serious shade at the Government yesterday in his response to the Prime Minister’s statement on Article 50 being triggered. He went through it and pointed out the many inconsistencies and false promises it contained. It’s a cracker.

Today is for me and my colleagues an extremely sad day. It marks the point at which the UK seeks to distance itself from its nearest neighbours at a time when, in every area of public policy, logic suggests that we should be working more closely together rather than less.

But sadness is a passive emotion, and it is not the only thing that we feel. We feel a sense of anger that the Government are pursuing a brutal Brexit, which will rip us out of the single market and many other European networks from which we benefit so much. We believe that the country will be poorer, less secure and less influential as a result, and we feel that at every ​point, whether it be the calling of the referendum itself or the choices made on how to put its result into effect, the principal motivation in the minds of Ministers has been not what is best for the long-term interests of the country but what is best for the short-term interests of the Conservative Party.

We do not believe that the Government have the faintest clue about how they are going to achieve the goals that they set out in their White Paper last month or the Prime Minister’s Statement today, and we have no confidence in their willingness to give Parliament a proper say either as the negotiations proceed or at their conclusion. We therefore believe that, at the end of the process, only the people should have the final say on whether any deal negotiated by the Government —or no deal—is preferable to ongoing EU membership. We will strain every sinew to ensure that outcome.

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Some progress on party funding reform – comments please!

 

The adage “if you want to keep something secret, say it in the House of Commons” certainly extends to the Lords on Fridays, when Private Members Bills are taken.

However, our team made significant progress last week in pushing the government to take seriously their own manifesto commitment “to continue to seek agreement on a comprehensive package of party funding reform”.  We have been plugging away at this by whatever means possible, including by initiating a special Select Committee on party funding reform last year, and by introducing my Political Parties (Funding and Expenditure) Bill last week.  I opened the debate, and Chris Rennard and Ian Wrigglesworth both spoke too.  We received support also from Labour Peer Larry Whitty, and from the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Paul Bew.

For decades, Lib Dems have sought a cap on individual donations – to limit the auction of influence and access to government and senior political figures which now takes place.  In return, a limited element of public funding – linked to support in the country – would be needed to ensure the parties could continue their campaigning.

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++Second government defeat – Lords vote for parliamentary veto on final Brexit deal

The BBC reports:

The government has suffered a second Brexit defeat in the House of Lords as peers backed, by 366 votes to 268, calls for a “meaningful” parliamentary vote on the final terms of withdrawal.
Backing the move, former deputy PM Lord Heseltine said Parliament must be the “custodian of national sovereignty”.

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Meet Paul Tyler’s (almost) unused cooker…


Paul (Lord) Tyler shows the nation the oven he has only used once (to warm up a pizza that “was a bit flabby”).

The second episode of “Meet the Lords” aired last night and is available here on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days. I mentioned, in my review of last week’s opening show, that our own dear Paul (Lord) Tyler was popping up in the programme. Well, this week I am delighted to say that the great Cornish Liberal is featured at some length. The film crew visit him in his little flat and follow him on his daily journey to the Lords.

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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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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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