Rennie: Scottish Budget a “missed opportunity”

Today was an historic day. Twenty years and three months ago, the Scottish people voted to have a Scottish Parliament with tax raising powers.

In his annual Budget, Scottish Finance Minister Derek Mackay increased the basic rate of income tax to 21p for those earning above £24,000. He also decreased it to 19p for the lowest earners up to £13,850. He put up the higher rate to 41p and the top rate to 46p.

It’s all pretty modest and it represents the sort of moves we were calling for in the Scottish elections last year and since. We wanted to see the money brought in put into education to make what Willie Rennie calls a “transformative”investment.

So we’re not going to complain about the idea of tax rises in principle. However, Derek Mackay is getting a world of pain from the Tories because the SNP said in their manifesto that they wouldn’t raise the basic rate of income tax. They were pretty scathing about our plans during the campaign and there are a whole load of words they said that are coming back to haunt them now.

They could have saved themselves that grief by ceding the principle last year.

Anyway, that is their problem to deal with. The Budget is a pretty modest affair. It’s certainly not the sort of budget to deal with a struggling health service, unfit for purpose education system and a housing crisis that keeps getting worse.

Willie Rennie had this to say:

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Faith and Liberalism

Following on from previous discussion on this site around the interaction between faith and being a Liberal Democrat,  I thought I’d share my story and, hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I am writing in a personal capacity, but happen to be Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum.

I am only a Liberal Democrat because of my Christian faith.  I’d better unpack that.  My faith has been a journey, brought up in a protestant household, with my childhood and teenage years in the Assemblies of God, and then working as a musician

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A way forward for the English Party

Since late 2016, the English Party has been reviewing its structure and governance. This was initiated following the consultation conducted by the Federal Party following the 2015 General Election, which revealed some considerable criticism of the English Party for a lack of transparency and accountability.

The English Party established the English Review Group towards the end of 2016, with members drawn from each of the 11 English Regions. This is chaired by Sally Symington, who has not previously been a member of any of the English Party committees. She was recommended for her common-sense approach, her fresh eye, and her experience …

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Brexit Resolution: statement from Catherine Bearder MEP

Yesterday the European Parliament voted in favour of a Resolution to allow Brexit talks to progress to the next stage.

Both the Commission and Parliament have now recommended to the European Council that progress has been made in the three key areas: on citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and the financial settlement.

This Resolution is the last piece in the puzzle to allowing the Brexit talks to progress to the next stage.

It effectively moves the UK one step further away from a disastrous “no deal” situation which would risk thousands

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Lib Dems GAIN another Council seat

Wednesday by-elections may be rare and weird but they are very welcome when they result in a Lib Dem GAIN.

Paul Follows took the Waverley, Surrey seat of Godalming Central an Ockford. We didn’t even stand a candidate there in 2015. We had a reasonable record there, pulling in 400-500 wards in previous years but this is a very good leap forward for us.

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Vince to argue for single market and customs union on visit to Ireland

Our Vince is off to Ireland tomorrow, where he’ll meet leading Irish politicians to discuss Brexit.
Vince will be discussing the implications of the end of the first phase of Brexit negotiations, set to be approved by EU leaders, which failed to find a long-term solution to the Irish border issue.

He said:

The Conservative government has so far botched Brexit, and amongst the people who stand to be most affected are those living on the island of Ireland.

Even after the ‘divorce settlement’ and the agreement to proceed with trade talks, it isstill unclear how a hard border will be averted.

Audiences in Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland are being told different things. Many of the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement have been put at risk as a result.

The unnecessary decision by the Conservatives to leave the Single Market and Customs Union was not mandated by the EU referendum. It is a miscalculation that will harm commerce between our countries.

Those economic ties are much stronger than is generally realised, given the Republic is the fifth biggest customer for UK exports and we are the second biggest market for Irish exports. 6,000 vehicles cross the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland every day.

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WATCH: Christine Jardine explain why the British people must have a final say on the Brexit deal

Earlier today, Christine Jardine told Sky News why the Liberal Democrats support the people having the final say on the Brexit deal. The things the Leave campaign dismissed as scaremongering are now happening and people need to have the chance to say if this is what they wanted:

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