18-19 July 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • PM must come before MPs after IfG Brexit warning
  • PM riding roughshod over our rights by restricting judicial review
  • Liberal Democrats bid to block corporate lawsuits watering down protections post-Brexit
  • Chinese treatment of Uyghurs amounts to genocide, Liberal Democrat warns

PM must come before MPs after IfG Brexit warning

Responding to a report by the Institute for Government which warns coronavirus has left UK firms unprepared for a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Boris Johnson is arrogantly setting the country down a path that threatens jobs and livelihoods, and this report confirms it. People deserve better.

Now is not the time to be playing politics. Our focus must be preventing a no-deal Brexit and ensuring business has all the help it needs to protect jobs.

The Prime Minister must come before MPs before the summer recess to answer how he will address the calls for preparation support, sector specific investment and more.

PM riding roughshod over our rights by restricting judicial review

Responding to reports that the Government is planning to restrict judicial review, following a Court of Appeal decision against the Home Secretary, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

Threatening to weaken the courts because of a judgment you disagree with is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.

With these plans, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are trying to enable the Government to run roughshod over people’s rights and allow Ministers to break the law with impunity.

Liberal Democrats will always defend individuals’ abilities to challenge the Government and uphold their rights. We will not stand by and allow Johnson and Cummings to undermine the rule of law, which is so fundamental to our society.


Liberal Democrats bid to block corporate lawsuits watering down protections post-Brexit

The Liberal Democrats have launched an attempt in Parliament to block corporations from using secretive tribunals to water down environmental or worker protections, and safeguard human rights and transparency in post-Brexit trade deals.

Liberal Democrat MPs have tabled an amendment to the Trade Bill – which is due to be debated in the House of Commons on Monday – to require the Government to assess each new trade agreement’s impact on citizens’ rights with regard to gender, age, race, class and economic well-being.

With separate amendments, the Party’s MPs will attempt to stop the Government from introducing controversial “investor-state dispute settlements” – better known as ISDS. Through such mechanisms, large overseas corporations can sue the UK if they believe that certain laws, such as environmental or worker protections, harm their interests.

Unlike normal legal disputes, ISDS cases are litigated in opaque private arbitration courts outside the main legal system. The Liberal Democrat amendment would replace such arrangements with either standard UK court proceedings or a transparent multi-lateral tribunal, safeguarding fair treatment for the UK and investors.

Speaking ahead of the debate in the House of Commons on Monday, Liberal Democrat International Trade Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

As the UK pursues a new trade policy we must not abandon the values we benefited from as members of the EU: human rights, justice and transparency must be safeguarded despite the Government’s Brexit plans.

The Government’s approach to trade has woefully neglected these principles. Not only have they offered next to no guarantees on environmental and worker protections, but they even seem intent on giving large multinationals a say over our own rules.

There’s no hiding from the fact that this is the opposite of ‘taking back control’. That is why Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fair trade policy, that commits us and our partners to the highest standards, and that stands against secretive courts that let foreign companies abuse their power.

David Lawrence, Senior Political Adviser at the Trade Justice Movement added:

Human rights and high standards must be at the heart of our future trade policy. The Trade Bill offers an opportunity to enshrine these principles in law.

MPs should support amendments which require the Government to undertake human rights impact assessments of all trade deals before and after implementation. The bill also offers an opportunity for the UK to free itself from harmful investor court provisions in trade deals.

These secretive courts have been used by companies to challenge important environmental and social regulations, including minimum wage rises and pollution controls. Removing ISDS clauses from trade deals is essential for ensuring that our new trade policy is good for people and the planet.

Chinese treatment of Uyghurs amounts to genocide, Liberal Democrat warns

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Foreign Secretary to acknowledge that the Chinese government is “engineering a genocide of the Uyghur people” and to come before Parliament before the recess to set out the Government’s response.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, the Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael urged the Government to use the next round of targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for human rights abuses in China.

The intervention follows the Chinese Ambassador to the UK denying on The Andrew Marr Show that the Uyghur people are being transported across China for forced labour in factories.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

The images we have seen in recent days are harrowing and inhuman. The Government has a duty to take a lead and do all we can to save the Uyghur people.

We must be clear what is happening here. The Chinese government is engineering a genocide.

The Foreign Secretary must come before MPs before the recess and set out what urgent actions the Government will take, both on an international level and unilaterally.

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