17 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Another week begins, and the Press Team are back on the frontline.

I am reminded that press releases are not all that our Press Team do, thus what you see here is not a full reflection of their work. There are specialist press releases not necessarily appropriate for a wider audience, and the team work with editors and journalists to gain better coverage, or to bring issues to their attention, and support our Parliamentarians when they interact with broadcast or print media too.

Anyway, on with today’s selection for you to enjoy…

  • Lib Dems: Case for a People’s Vote has spread to very top of Government
  • Home Office hostility denying asylum seekers the right to live with dignity
  • Home Office’s £6 million Windrush bill revealed
  • Cable: Corbyn bottling a real confidence motion
  • Lib Dems table amendment to Corbyn’s fudged no confidence vote

Lib Dems: Case for a People’s Vote has spread to very top of Government

Responding to the news that the Prime Minister will use her statement in the House of Commons this afternoon to address reports that the Government are considering a People’s Vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The political narrative has shifted massively and the People’s Vote campaign is now firmly knocking at the door of Number Ten.

Theresa May has a history of flip-flopping on big political decisions so we should read little into her denials. But the case for another vote has spread through Government to the very top.

The Tories may now see it as a way of clinging onto power, but we will campaign for the option to remain, giving power back to the people.

Home Office hostility denying asylum seekers the right to live with dignity

Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on asylum accommodation, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Government is failing some of the most vulnerable people in our country by bungling the new contracts for asylum accommodation and leaving pregnant women and torture victims in rooms infested by rats and mould.

Despite repeated concerns being raised, the Home Office simply isn’t taking the action needed to make these homes fit for purpose. And now its bungling threatens to reduce the number of places available for asylum seekers, because local authorities may just stop participating.

It’s yet another example of Home Office hostility and incompetence denying people the right to live with dignity.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. Asylum seekers should have their cases handled more quickly and fairly by a new, non-political unit, instead of the discredited Home Office. And asylum seekers should be given the right to work while their claims are decided, so that they are not trapped in sub-standard accommodation.

Home Office’s £6 million Windrush bill revealed

Responding to new details of the Windrush scandal, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called for the Home Office to be stripped of responsibility for immigration altogether.

In a letter to Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, the Home Secretary has revealed that, of the 164 people who were wrongly detained or deported, 16 are deceased. This is up from the 11 people who had been identified as deceased last month.

The letter also reveals that the Home Office has now spent £6.05 million in response to the Windrush scandal, including £165,455.75 on independent advisers and consultants and £56,623.85 on external legal advice.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Each month, the scale of the damage done by the Windrush scandal becomes clearer.

We now know that at least 16 people who were wrongfully detained or deported have since passed away and will never receive any apology or compensation for the appalling wrongs done to them.

And we’ve also learned that the Home Office has now spent more than £6 million responding to the scandal – money that could’ve been far better spent fixing our immigration system and investing in public services.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will prevent a repeat of the Windrush scandal by dismantling the Tories’ hostile environment and taking responsibility for immigration away from the Home Office and its toxic culture.

Cable: Corbyn bottling a real confidence motion

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s motion on the Prime Minister’s future, Liberal Democrat Leader, Vince Cable said:

Corbyn knows that for a no confidence motion to matter it should relate to the Conservative Government as a whole. That is the way to precipitate the General Election he says he wants.

Instead he turns his fire not on the Tories or Brexit but Theresa May personally, ducking the real issue and bottling the real vote the Commons needs.

Jeremy Corbyn should support a proper, effective confidence motion straight away, test whether MPs will vote to remove them from office and, if not, honour Labour’s promise to get behind a People’s Vote.

A choice between the deal and remaining in the European Union is the only way to get the country out of the present logjam.

Lib Dems table amendment to Corbyn’s fudged no confidence vote

Tonight the Liberal Democrats have tabled a cross-party amendment to Jeremy Corbyn’s no confidence vote, which if passed, would trigger the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and lead to a general election.

Commenting on the amendment, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

It’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn is using every subterfuge possible to avoid the responsibility of pushing a real motion of no confidence in the government.

He seems more interested in installing a new Tory Prime Minister in Downing Street than in the General Election he keeps talking about.

By contrast, our joint amendment shows what a real opposition would do. It will test MPs’ views on the real question and would remove every Labour excuse not to back a People’s Vote on the deal, with an option to remain in the European Union.

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  • Peter Watson 18th Dec '18 - 12:37am

    Tuition fees are back in the news with an apparent and imminent end to the “fiscal illusion”, and discussion of the merits or otherwise of reducing fees, reducing the interest rate, increasing the repayment threshold, etc. Any statements from the party on this?

  • If a vote of no confidence is called and we have a general election, this LibDem (though a fan of his LibDem MP) will seriously consider voting Conservative. It is time for MPs to collaborate on a plan to get a vote in Parliament between the existing Deal and Remain. Mrs May has something pretty close to the best possible obtainable deal (even if you are not keen on it). Would LibDems relally line up with Mr Corbyn who has no plans at all? A Second Vote would be too difficult to manage and few of us will read 500 pages, which you need to do to make an informed judgement. Parliament must shape up and not hide behind the public. If doctors can’t agree on a course of treatment, you don’t ask the man in the pub ( who hasn’t even read Gray’s Anatomy)!

  • Richard Underhill 18th Dec '18 - 12:41pm

    Peter Watson: Today’s headline is the sacking of Mourinho, which will cost Man. U about £24 million. His relationship with Pogba is an issue. Juventus would like Pogba to return and are willing and prepared to bid £125 million.

  • Don, the problem is not that “It is time for MPs to collaborate on a plan to get a vote in Parliament between the existing Deal and Remain”, but the last thing Theresa May will allow is a vote in Parliament between the existing Deal and Remain. Her objective is to get her deal accepted and then stand down.

    It will be her legacy
    — the UK out of the EU (Referendum honoured),
    — the Conservative Party saved (Esteem ensured),
    — the enemy crushed (boundless joy).

    The Conservative government controls the parliamentary agenda. Hence meaningful votes can be aborted at a moment’s notice.

    The plan is to run down time, put forward a motion to choose between Her plan and crashing out, and bully her party into line, as the least worst option she will allow.

    Corbyn’s plan is to pretend he is opposing her, run down time, do nothing substantive and when anything goes wrong post Brexit, blame the Conservatives. In all cases we are by-passed and largely ignored.

    Our only option is to make a fuss. But at least we are making a fuss about something that could change things, and we are doing it now.

  • Alex Macfie 18th Dec '18 - 5:06pm

    @Joseph Bourke: We simply can not afford to be associated with the Tories in the present circumstances. Make a pact with them, whether Confidence & Supply or full-blown Coalition, and it would be the end of the Liberal Democrats as an independent party. We were shafted by the Tories last time we became their governing partner, and this is one reason why we refused to open negotiations with them after they lost their majority at the last election. Think of it as part payback, and part self-preservation. It’s all very well to say “country before party”, but if you are a liberal, then you probably think it is in the country’s interest for there to be an independent and successful liberal party as part of its national politics.
    You could also look at it as a message to the electorate, that we’re giving them what they say they want. It is clear from the 2015 and 2017 election results
    And I don’t think we should be any part of a single-issue government pact. It’s a bad idea in general. It would imply we are a single-issue party, existing for the sole purpose of instituting a new Brexit referendum (not even of winning it for Remain). It shows how little influence our 12 MPs would have that you think that we could only demand one thing of the Tories as a price for our support. And it’s not something that would be worth us potentially supporting all the rest of the Tory government’s agenda. No one thing would be. We don’t have the luxury that the DUP have, that they can vote for stuff they oppose, because it doesn’t affect their voters.

    I think you tend to assume that everyone in politics plays nicely, an error also made by Clegg and his coterie when they negotiated the Coalition. They do not; in particular the Tories are likely to shaft us, and while I would never say “never”, right now is not the time to have any dealings with the Tories in national government, and if we ever do again, the saying about spoons and supping with the Devil must be borne in mind.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Dec '18 - 8:03pm

    Peter Watson Perhaps their next manager could be Norwegian?

  • Paul Holmes 18th Dec '18 - 9:08pm

    I agree absolutely with Alex Macfie -not something either of us ever expected to see in print!

    Apart from Alex’s excellent points there are in any case major flaws in Joseph’s reasoning.

    1. Joseph thinks our purpose should be to save the country from the combined pressure of the Cons/Lab Leaderships ‘who want to exit the EU at any cost’. And we would do this by allying with self same Cons Leadership that wants to exit the EU and has repeatedly said there will be no Second Referendum? How exactly would that work?
    2. Our MP’s would barely replace the DUP votes and certainly would not outweigh the -30? or 40? or 50? or 60? – hardline Cons Brexiteers who would vote against any such deal. Would the Labour Leadership -which as Joseph says is committed to leaving the EU at any cost -make up the gap in order to support a pro EU Con/LD pact?
    3. When the ‘unlikely coalition of Whigs, Radicals and Peelites’ formed the Liberal Party in 1859 they had already in fact been working closely together on a wide range of common ground for some time. The Whigs and Radicals since the 1834 Reform Act and the ensuing ‘Decade of Reform’ as the history books describe it. The Peelites had joined the mix once Peel split the Tories and put them out of office for 30 years by repealing the Corn Laws in 1846. It was no sudden single issue alliance.

  • Joe, on this matter Alex MacFie and Paul Holmes are spot on. Your option, I’m sad to say, is pretending we are a powerful player, and the PM has some interest in our proposals, when we no longer are and she never had. Too many of us spent 5 years pretending we were powerful and the Tories were signing our tune, when with 59 MPs we could have been and they might have done, but instead we chose to be more loyal to David Cameron than to our values and in the end he stabbed Nick in the back. Now we have only 12 MPs and the one condition you think we should request for supporting Theresa May is the one thing she will never accept. Think about it!

  • I wouldn’t have expected to be in agreement with Paul and David either, but there you go.
    Just to finish the bit that fell victim to my changing train of thought:
    You could also look at it [refusal to go into coalition] as a message to the electorate, that we’re giving them what they say they want. It is clear from the 2015 and 2017 election results that the voters don’t like us going into government with the Tories. So this time we didn’t; we did what the electorate seem to want us to do and give that lot a wide berth, leaving the field to the DUP.

  • When it comes to strategy and political tactics the temptation is always to “refight the last war.” The membership of the Libdems dropped to circa 40,000 in the middle years of the coalition from circa 65,000 in 2010. The boost in recruitment that immediately followed the 2015 election brought membership back up to 60,000,many having appreciated the merits of coalition government and the Libdem stance on the EU.
    In the aftermath of the 2016 referendum membership grew to 80,000 and following the 2017 election 100,000.

    National voter churn has been a significant impediment since the formation of the merged party in the 1980s and particularly during the New Labour years from 1997 to 2010. It is also important to recognise that a large element of the current membership have joined explicitly on the basis of the party’s clear opposition to Brexit and advocacy of a 2nd referendum.

    The prospect of a Labour/SNP coalition in 2015 was a significant factor in Labour’s poor showing and in tactical voting in Tory/Libdem marginals to avoid a labour/SNP government that saw so many Libdem MPs lose their seats https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/04/anti-austerity-voters-poll-jeremy-corbyn-labour.

    Garvin Barwell analysing the 2017 election noted that there was evidence that “angry” Remain voters had abandoned the Conservatives https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40251997
    “We are very clear in my seat, that the area of the constituency where Labour did best was the area that had voted heavily for remain… So there’s clearly evidence, I think, that people are angry about Brexit still, Jeremy Corbyn somehow managed to get them behind him.”
    He added: “We do need to make sure that people that are Conservative-minded that voted Remain in the referendum are happy to continue supporting our party.”On Brexit, he said that there was evidence that “angry” Remain voters had abandoned the Conservatives.

    If the Prime Minister is herself at heart a remainer and a good number of her cabinet, then a 2nd referendum may be the only way she can keep her party intact through the Brexit process. Quite a strong incentive for entering into a pact that will deliver just that.

  • Joe B, Sorry I’m afraid I missed your last post until now.

    You say “If the Prime Minister is herself at heart a remainer …” That’s exactly where your logic breaks down. Theresa May is a Conservative and a senior one at that. Ergo if you want to build an argument around her having a heart, you have to consider the possible option that she may not have one.

  • David,

    the argument is not around the level of empathy the Prime Minister may or not have. Efforts to bring about a 2nd referendum are focused on cajoling the Labour party leadership and sufficient numbers of Tory MPs to join with the Libdems., SNP and Plaid to pass a motion calling on the government to negotiate an extension of the Article 50 deadline and enact legislation for a referendum as an alternative to Mrs May’s deal or exiting without a deal.

    Even if the Labour party leadership can be brought on board after exhausting all other options, the prime minister has to be prepared to go against her party’s Brexit policy and manifesto to bring about a referendum. To do so without DUP support risks her party’s continuance in government. She would have to believe strongly that no Brexit is preferable to a no deal Brexit to risk losing her supply and confidence partner.

    At present the Article 50 notice expires March 29 unless the government takes action to stop it, regardless of what motions may be passed in Parliament.

    That is quite a tortuous path to a 2nd referendum.

  • Joe, you say “Even if the Labour party leadership can be brought on board after exhausting all other options, the prime minister has to be prepared to go against her party’s Brexit policy,” but that is the one edifice that she has built her whole premiership around. To admit that has failed would be to admit her personal total failure, and that of her party as well. It would also be a total betrayal of the Brexit voters and she believes it would almost totally destroy her party’s electoral fortunes for decades. Senior politicians never do that.

    Just as Nick refused to believe that coalition had become a total failure and a disaster for Liberal Democracy and clung on to the very end, Theresa May will continue to with her current strategy to the end unless she is forced to change by forces within the Conservative party. The only difference was that Nick was prepared to watch as the future we had worked for was steadily destroyed, and very few in the Lib Dems were prepared to try to stop it happening.

    Senior Conservatives are much more ruthless and focused on power to let that happen to them, and if enough of them believe they will get stuffed if Brexit goes through, it will change. They are the one hope, not simply your Damascene moment where Theresa May suddenly decides to agree with the Lib Dems.

    Unless you count a bunch of senior Tories with long knives knocking on the door of No 10 as a Damascene moment. 🙂

  • David,

    as we remember Paddy Ashdown this Christmas it is worth recalling his good common sense about these issues. As was his want he spoke quite frankly about coalition in an interview with the observer in 2013 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/sep/14/paddy-ashdown-lib-dems-labour-tories.

    “Instinctively, I hate both of them. When you ask me to choose between Labour or Tories, it’s like asking me whether I’d rather be run over by a train or a bus. Wherever our hearts lie – everybody knows where that is, it’s on the centre-left – the reality is that we do business in the national interest with those who the electorate have asked us to do business with.”

    “In the course of the coalition, there has been a revelation on both sides and I anticipate there would be one if it came about with Labour as well. The Tories have discovered that the Lib Dems aren’t all sandal-eating, yoghurt-wearing, bearded weirdos. Lib Dems are actually rather good and tough and effective ministers. And Lib Dems have discovered that not all the Tories eat babies before breakfast.”
    “The idea of another term of Con-Lib coalition repels many in his party, among them those who think that, from the green agenda to constitutional reform, the Tories have let them down. Ashdown is dismissive of this complaint. “That’s what coalition is, for God’s sake. You get some of your stuff through; you don’t get other stuff through.”

    “Am I proud to have been the founder leader of a party that survived against the odds … and has done bloody well in the first coalition government at an exceedingly difficult time? Yeah. I burn with pride about that.”

    Paddy’s conference essay reprinted yesterday notes “Any attempt to create a new framework for our politics should begin with widening the space in which we can make common cause with people who share our values, rather than harping on about the things that separate us. We should not find it impossible to work with individuals in other parties and none (including, yes even Tories) who share some cardinal principles we jointly believe in – say, creating a green economy, tackling the gap between rich and poor, working to reform our political system, rejecting isolationism and sustaining a market system which serves the individual not the economically powerful.”

    This is how I think we should approach Brexit – make common cause with those who share our values and reject those whether of the hard left or hard right that would drag the country to the extremes.

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