Tag Archives: tom brake

We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience

 

President Lukashenko of Belarus has enjoyed twenty-two years in power, achieved through a specific method of counting of votes, and has often been referred to as the last dictator in Europe.

Following his annual state-of-the-union address 2015, President Lukashenko has said that Jews in Belarus should be taken “under control”. All this occurred in the presence of foreign ambassadors, including the Ambassador of Britain, but excluding the US ambassador, because the Belarusian dictator expelled the US ambassador from the country many years ago.

The reaction of the Conservative government on this Belarusian leader’s statement was not long in coming. At the beginning of 2016 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office called for the lifting of EU sanctions against the Belarusian dictator, with “full compliance” of the 2010 Conservative statement on the basic values of foreign policy:

We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience. Human rights are not the only issue that informs the making of foreign policy, but they are indivisible from it, not least because the consequences of foreign policy failure are human.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

What does the Queen’s Speech mean for Liberal Democrat strategy?

When the Government sets out its agenda for the next year in the Queen’s Speech, it gives the other parties a chance to do the same. What can we learn from the frenzy of Liberal Democrat activity in the press in the past few days about where we might be going.

Well, Tim had a piece in the Huffington Post the other day that put education at the heart of our thinking. This is far from being a new concept. It’s one of our core principles that we’ve always talked about. Tim had developed a 5-point education charter with the aim of giving young people and the economy the skills they need for the modern world.

The future is full of exciting opportunities, as technology changes the way we work and live. However, there are also massive challenges, from giving people the skills they need to adapt to our changing economy, to tackling climate change.

Education is key to meeting these challenges. That is why the Liberal Democrat vision is for a country which enshrines the rights of every child to a decent education. We believe this should be the number one priority of the Government when they set out their agenda. We are calling for a Charter for Education which guarantees every child is taught a curriculum which includes creative arts subjects, sports, languages, technical and vocational courses and practical life skills.

Over the years education has become more about passing tests and getting a good Ofsted rating than making sure children get the skills they need and grow into healthy, happy and confident adults. This is harmful for young people, and my fear is that it will leave them ill-equipped to deal with the challenges – and opportunities – of the future.

It’s a bit more satisfying than the Tories’ battle with teachers and local authorities for the sake of it. It also looks at wellbeing and happiness which are crucially important.

The nuts and bolts of the Charter are:

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Tom Brake MP writes….On International Romani Day we should all remember the need for human rights to be given to all groups in Europe

Today is International Romani Day, a day to celebrate the culture and raise awareness of one of the most misunderstood groups within Europe. Romani people have faced severe persecution over the last century but are tragically often forgotten and that is why this day is important.

Tragically, Romani people are still facing persecution and are being denied equal human rights within Europe.

Our continent is buckling under the strain of the greatest humanitarian crisis it has faced since the last World War, tensions are running high in areas struggling to cope with an influx of men, women and children who have had to flee their homes to escape the destruction and tyranny of terrorist groups and dictators. Sadly, as these people reach the borders of states unable or unwilling to welcome the number of people who have arrived needing protection, human rights are often being forgotten and protection and fair treatment is not being given.

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Lib Dems call for Syria action update

Yesterday in the House of Commons the Liberal Democrats demanded an urgent update on the military situation in Syria and the ability for MPs to hold the government to account.

As part of the debate last year on military action in Syria, we said that we wanted to see regular updates to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister agreed to give quarterly statements. Three months on, it is time for David Cameron to stick to his promise.

Parliamentary questions have uncovered the UK military airstrikes in Syria have totalled 43 targets in Syria in three months and 319 Daesh targets in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is critical that wherever our Armed Forces are in active combat that the government is as open as possible about the progress of that activity. Parliament voted to support the extension of airstrikes to Syria on the basis that we would be provided with regular updates, and 3 months on from that vote it is time for the government to deliver that promise.

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Tom Brake signs cross-party letter to Prime Minister asking him to drop the “rape clause”

Tom Brake is one of MPs from nine parties who has signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to withdraw the ill-thought out “rape clause” which was part of the measures brought in in the Budget.

George Osborne capped tax credits and benefits at two children, a measure Liberal Democrats had blocked throughout the Coalition years. Within the detail, SNP MP Alison Thewliss discovered a clause which said that women who had had a third child as a result of being raped would be exempt. How do you actually prove that to a DWP official? It’s such an ill-thought out, cruel policy. As if the principle of capping benefits at two children wasn’t bad enough, this took its cruelty to a whole new level. No woman should have to prove rape to access basic benefits for her child.

Since then, Alison has been pursuing the Government at every opportunity to say how exactly this policy will be implemented, but hasn’t had an answer, satisfactory or otherwise.

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Farron and Brake say that those who killed Alexander Litvinenko must be held to account

Tim Farron and Tom Brake have reacted to this morning’s publication of the report into the nurder of Alexander Litvinenko which concluded that Andrei Lugovoi, a key ally of Vladimir Putin, and Dmitri Kovtun killed Litvinenko and that Putin probably authorised it.

Tim Farron said that those responsible must be held to account:

A UK citizen was killed on the streets of London with polonium. It was an attack on the heart of Britain, our values and our society.

I call for EU travel bans, asset freezes and coordinated action to deal with those who committed this evil assassination. I have called for a new Magnitsky Law to make sure that these people are held to account for what they did.

These assassins trampled over British sovereignty and we cannot let this go unanswered.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Tom Brake slams “shamefully weak” UK government statement on Saudi executions

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has torn into the Government’s statement on the executions of 47 prisoners in Saudi Arabia in a series of tweets this evening.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 18 Comments
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  • User AvatarMatt (Bristol) 1st Jul - 11:39am
    Hurrah! We move onwards. Looking forward (which is tough and possibly naive) I think – and beginning to open up myself to the the possibility...
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  • User AvatarAndrew Hickey 1st Jul - 11:30am
    Catherine, I agree with most of that. I'm just not a very optimistic person, though :-/