14 January 2019 – today’s press releases

As we start another week, is there an emerging consensus on where we go next? Tomorrow sees the meaningful vote in the Commons, whilst tonight saw a somewhat less meaningful one in the Lords, although it perhaps offers a portent of what is to come…

  • Cross-party group publishes legislation for People’s Vote
  • Cable: Research shows UK companies hit hard by ‘Leave’ vote
  • Lib Dems: EU letter changes nothing
  • Lords defeat ’embarrassing setback’ for Theresa May

Cross-party group publishes legislation for People’s Vote

A cross-party group of MPs has today (January 14th) published legislation to bring about a ‘People’s Vote’ referendum on the Government’s Brexit deal in 2019.

The MPs have produced two draft Bills to break the deadlock in Parliament. First, a ‘Paving Bill’ which would enable the Electoral Commission to start the necessary consultation around a referendum question and lead campaign designation. Secondly, a full Bill which would provide for a referendum on the deal versus remaining within the European Union.

The legislation would enable the public to have the final say before the scheduled European elections. If the public chooses to remain within the European Union, voters would once again elect MEPs. If the public chooses to endorse the deal, the UK would no longer send representatives to the European Parliament, and the 27 remaining Member States could proceed with their elections unimpeded.

The full Bill also puts in place new restrictions on online advertising during the referendum campaign, ensuring that spending is transparent and properly accounted for. Beyond these changes, the Bill maintains similar arrangements as those for the 2016 referendum. However, it would be possible for Parliament to amend it to widen the existing franchise to 16-18 year olds, to all UK citizens overseas, and to European Union citizens in the UK.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, said:

This Bill puts flesh on the bones of our campaign for a final say. Crucially, it shows how quickly a People’s Vote can be delivered.

With the Bill, Liberal Democrats and others can give the country the best way out of the present uncertainty.

The Government should accept this as the starting point for legislation to break the current deadlock, enabling the people the final say and the option to remain in the EU.

Former Attorney General and Conservative MP, Dominic Grieve, said:

This Bill provides a legally credible way forward, and a politically credible way forward. With no majority in Parliament for the deal, or for ‘no deal’, the legislation provides the Government with an escape hatch.

Senior Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, said:

This legislation provides a good starting point for Parliament to give the people the final say on whether to go ahead with Brexit given it looks nothing like what was originally promised.

The Government should stop wasting time on a doomed deal, and let the Commons address this real plan for a People’s Vote as soon as possible – the principal way for the UK to avoid crashing out with no deal in a few weeks time.

SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, said:

There is little support in Parliament for the Prime Minister’s deal or for no deal. As Members of Parliament, it is our responsibility to present an alternative route to protect our economy and citizens rights.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union and the SNP believe this Bill is an effort to build a consensus across the house for a second EU referendum.

Former Clerk of the Commons, Lord Lisvane, added:

We have worked together on a cross-party – and no-party – basis to provide a pragmatic solution to the present impasse. Now that people know what the options are, it seems right to let them choose. This Bill provides for that.

Cable: Research shows UK companies hit hard by ‘Leave’ vote

Responding to research from the University of Bristol (published 00:01 14 January 2019) which finds voting ‘Leave’ led to an average 16% drop in value for UK companies, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The UK hasn’t even left the EU and the damaging impact of the Brexit mess created by an irresponsible Tory party and indifferent Labour leadership is clear to see.

Any Brexit will hurt businesses, weaken public finances and create further job uncertainty for ordinary people. This is yet further evidence that it isn’t project fear, but project reality.

It doesn’t need to be this way, and Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we are leading the fight for an exit from Brexit through a People’s Vote. In this crunch week, all eyes will be on MPs to do the right thing for business and back that cause.

Lib Dems: EU letter changes nothing

Responding to the letter to the Prime Minister from the President of the European Council Donald Tusk and the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Make no mistake, this letter changes nothing. Warm words from the EU, which the Prime Minister will no doubt use to try and get MPs to support her Brexit deal, do nothing to solve the issue of the Irish border.

It is all well and good to say they can consider ‘facilitative arrangements and technologies’ but this is not a reality. The technology that would allow seamless trade across the Irish border simply does not exist.

If we do not have a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, there will be red tape for businesses, longer queues at our borders and jobs will be lost. It is time Theresa May was honest with the British public and offered them a way out of this mess with a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Lords defeat ’embarrassing setback’ for Theresa May

Responding to the resounding government defeat on the withdrawal agreement by 169 votes, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords Dick Newby said:

This resounding defeat for the Conservative Government demonstrates how unpopular Theresa May’s deal truly is.

Since delaying the vote, the cabinet’s shambolic plans for Brexit have only increased. From ferry contracts which include no ferries, to no-deal fridges ready for stockpiling medicines, the cabinet is wasting millions of pounds and causing many individuals great anxiety on a no-deal option which stands zero chance of being approved by the Commons.

Tonight’s vote has been an embarrassing setback for Theresa May, and she can expect more of the same tomorrow. Following a defeat tomorrow the Prime Minister should hand the Brexit decision back to the people – with the option to remain in the EU.

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