Tag Archives: tom brake

LibLink: Tom Brake: The Westminster Attack was an assault on democracy, let it not be an assault on freedom too

Tom Brake wrote for The House magazine about the threats to civil liberties in the wake of the Westminster attacks. He said that the appropriate response to the horror was:

What the attacker sought to do in his rampage was to instil fear and division, erode our democracy, shake confidence in our institutions and rupture our way of life. Our response must be more unity, more democracy, and steadfast humanity in the face of evil. We must always counter hate with love. We will remain open, tolerant and united.

The article was written before Amber Rudd effectively conceded that she had been talking rubbish about encryption, but he highlighted why that was a bad idea and went on to talk about how the sweeping powers the Government had given itself could be absued in the wrong hands:

The bigger issue, of course, is this will not be effective. The 2015 Paris attacks were planned on non-encrypted burner phones, and the attackers were known to the authorities. The issue was the lack of police resources to track potential criminals, not the lack of access to encrypted messages. And drowning our intelligence services in a mountain of irrelevant data is unlikely to help, as the Danes recently discovered.

The Snooper’s Charter was a startling overreach when it was voted through last year, and this would be a horrifying extension of it. Few of us would give the government a key to our house to look through our drawers without a court warrant, and we must be careful to treat our online belongings with the same respect.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Tom Brake on human rights in Saudi Arabia

Tom Brake has written a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to raise human rights issues in her meeting with Saudi Arabia.

Here is the letter:

Dear Theresa,

I am writing in advance of your visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow, to ask you to raise urgently with the regime a number of serious human rights concerns.

1. The targeting of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition
According to the United Nations, over 7,600 people have been killed and 42,000 injured since fighting began in March 2015, the majority in airstrikes led by the Saudi coalition. The conflict and a blockade imposed by the coalition have also triggered a humanitarian disaster, leaving 70% of the population in need of aid, including millions on the verge of famine.

The Saudi coalition, in contravention of humanitarian law, has repeatedly targeted civilians, including at funerals, weddings and in market places.

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Brake: Great Repeal Bill is the biggest power grab since Henry VIII

There is a certain arrogance about naming a piece of legislation “great”  before it is even enacted. The Government has today revealed how it will legislate to get rid of those pesky bits of European law that the Tories hate so much. You’ll hear a lot about “Henry VIII powers.” This is what the Parliament website says about them:

The Government sometimes adds this provision to a Bill to enable the Government to repeal or amend it after it has become an Act of Parliament. The provision enables primary legislation to be amended or repealed by subordinate legislation with or without further parliamentary scrutiny.

Such provisions are known as Henry VIII clauses, so named from the Statute of Proclamations 1539 which gave King Henry VIII power to legislate by proclamation.

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Tom Brake’s speech in the Article 50 debate

The final Liberal Democrat contribution in the Article 50 debate came from Tom Brake. We have published all the others as it is important for us all to be aware of what our MPs did and said on this most momentous of decisions.

I hope that I am wrong, but I believe that the decision that the country took on 23 June will result in the biggest self-inflicted wound since our disastrous intervention in Iraq. That wound is festering and it will leave the UK permanently economically weaker, even after it has healed. I believe that, when Members of Parliament believe that a course of action is going to be a catastrophe, they have a duty to harry, assail and oppose the Government, not to acquiesce.

I respect those who voted to leave. They had, and have, genuine grievances about a lack of jobs or education prospects, and concerns about the changes they see in our society, including concerns about immigration. The Brexiteers claimed that leaving the EU would address those concerns by stopping the cancellation of urgent hospital operations—paid for, presumably, by the tsunami of cash that was going to come to the NHS post-Brexit—improving teacher shortages in our schools and boosting housing supply. It will not do any of those things. In fact, it will make them worse. I doubt that even the leave campaign’s most prominent pledge, to reduce immigration substantially, will be achieved. Why would it be? After all, the Prime Minister has spent many years seeking to reduce the level of non-EU immigration, and nothing changed there.

What leaving the EU will do with certainty is diminish us as a nation and reduce our influence and international standing. That has already happened. Brexit has forced our Prime Minister, a born-again hard-line Brexiteer, to line up with Trump—indeed, to walk hand in hand with him. While European leaders and Canada condemned his Muslim ban, our Prime Minister’s initial response was to say, “Not my business.” Worse, she immediately offered him, with indecent haste, a state visit—far quicker than any other US President—which I am sure had absolutely nothing to do with her desperation to secure a trade deal, any deal, with the protectionist Trump.

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Tom Brake challenges May to stick up for Mo Farah and other Muslims

 

The news that everyone’s favourite athlete – Mo Farah – may not be able to return to his family in the US has encapsulated the impact of Trump’s vicious travel ban. He was, of course, born in Somalia, one of the banned countries, although he is a British citizen and does not hold dual nationality. He is currently at a training camp in Ethiopia.

Mo Farah wrote:

I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home.

Now me, and many others like me, are being told that we may not be welcome.

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LibLink: Tom Brake: Why the Liberal Democrats won’t stand aside in Copeland

In an article for the New Statesman, Tom Brake explains why the Liberal Democrats will be fighting the Copeland candidate with our excellent candidate, Rebecca Hanson. The brief summary is that you can’t have a “Progressive Alliance” with a party that isn’t very progressive. Labour’s approach to Brexit is something that we could not support.

But ultimately we will not help progressive politics if we stand aside for Corbyn’s Labour, which would merely give the left false hope that someone of the hard left could become Prime Minister. To us, a Eurosceptic statist such as Corbyn is not even progressive. By doing well ourselves, the Lib Dems will strengthen the hand of Labour moderates to seize back control of their party, or else leave it entirely. Only then will re-alignment be back on the agenda.

Brexit changes everything. So, whatever you thought of the Coalition or the Lib Dems, think again: if you are a progressive, you need Europe – and the Lib Dems are the only party fighting for your European future.

He also reminds readers how Jeremy Corbyn refused to share a platform with Tim Farron during the referendum to highlight how the EU protects workers’ rights.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

Tom Brake calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO

As the human rights situation in Turkey worsens, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called for Turkey to be suspended from NATO and for the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU to be scrapped.

He said:

Erdogan’s ongoing purge of newspapers, academics, teachers and judges has nothing to do with Turkey’s security and everything to do with blocking any opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule. Today’s news that dozens more media outlets have been shut should send shivers down the spine of any person who believes in a free and open society.

The preamble to NATO’s founding treaty refers to it being “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”, all of which are under threat in Turkey currently.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , and | 25 Comments
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