19 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Cross-party group urge Govt to “right the wrong” done to Chagos Islanders and respect the ICJ
  • Debt response must be green recovery plan
  • Govt must do more to tackle disproportionate BAME Covid-19 deaths
  • Sir Simon McDonald’s premature departure raises serious questions
  • Challenge is for Govt, not teachers

Cross-party group urge Govt to “right the wrong” done to Chagos Islanders and respect the ICJ

The Liberal Democrats are leading cross-party calls for the Government to adhere to United Nations’ calls for the Chagos islands to be returned to Mauritian control and come good on the promise of a £40m package of support for the Chagossian community.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael, who has secured the support of 29 other MPs from across the political spectrum, criticised the Government’s “arrogant” rejection of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on Chagos and warned it is jeopardising the UK’s credibility on a world stage.

The intervention comes after the UK Government issued a response to the UN Secretary General’s report on implementing Resolution 73/295 – which advised it to end the unlawful occupation of the islands – earlier this week.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the cross-party group quote the Prime Minister of Mauritius who highlighted the connections between the Chagossian struggle and the Black Lives Matter movement by warning “the occupation of the Chagos Archipelago inscribes itself in these historic wrongs.”

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

I’m saddened but not surprised at the Government’s decision to reject the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the illegal British occupation of the Chagos archipelago.

The ICJ has very clearly instructed the UK to return the island chain to Mauritian control. The Government’s refusal to do so is arrogant and jeopardises our credibility on a world stage.

The Government must abide by the ICJ’s ruling and ensure the £40m package of support promised to the Chagossian community is paid out in full.

Debt response must be green recovery plan

Responding to news that public debt has risen to over 100% this month, the first time since 1963, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

This level of public debt hasn’t been seen in generations, but nor have we experienced such a devastating pandemic that has demanded such necessary spending.

Many families will rightly worry what comes next. The Conservatives must not slash and burn our public services in response – that would harm our society and harm prospects of growing our economy out of this debt.

The best response to this debt is a massive green recovery plan so we can provide the green jobs and the green growth to pay off the debt, get people into employment and tackle the climate emergency at the same time.

Govt must do more to tackle disproportionate BAME Covid-19 deaths

Responding to analysis from the ONS released today which confirms the risk of death involving COVID-19 among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of white ethnicity, Liberal Democrats Home Affairs and Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:

We must do more to tackle the disproportionate impact of Covid19 on BAME communities.

If the Government is serious about tackling systemic racial inequality then we need more than just a review. We need action. We need an effective Race Equality Strategy.

For a start, BAME communities are far more likely to be working on the frontline in the NHS and social care. Ministers should ensure there is adequate PPE and introduce an additional service payment for each day on the frontline.

Sir Simon McDonald’s premature departure raises serious questions

Responding to reports Sir Simon McDonald – permanent secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – is set to retire early after the Prime Minister indicated he wanted someone new after the merger with the Department for International Development, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Sir Simon McDonald’s premature departure from the FCO will raise many questions.

McDonald has been a constant voice of reason and his absence will be noticed at a time when the Government appear intent on undermining the UK’s position on the world stage.

The Government’s bully boy approach to the civil service is dangerous and counterproductive at such a precarious moment in our country’s history.

Challenge is for Govt, not teachers

Responding to reports that the Prime Minister has announced he wants all pupils’ back to school every day and all day from September, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

We all want to be able to have pupils back at school and learning in the best environment possible. However, we cannot safely do that without a national plan for reopening schools or without having a comprehensive test, trace, and isolate system fully up and running.

The Prime Minister should wake up and fully grasp the issue. The challenge is not for teachers, it’s for the Government to explain how and when this can be achieved.

Sadly, Boris Johnson is once again setting ambitious goals without having made a plan or reaching out to the people who actually have to implement it. He needs to learn from his mistakes, fast.

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One Comment

  • Peter Martin 20th Jun '20 - 8:01am

    “The best response to this debt is a massive green recovery plan so we can provide the green jobs and the green growth to pay off the debt, get people into employment….”

    Yes we should have green growth, green jobs etc. But “pay off the debt”? This is just another example of the wrongheaded obsession with Govt debt which causes us so much trouble. Anyone who owns Premium bonds or National Savings certs owns government debt. Are they more likely to cash them in and spend the proceeds if the economy starts to do well? It’s possible, if people feel the need to have less of a safety buffer. That’s a more classically inclined economic viewpoint. On the other hand they could want to save even more if they are earning more. That’s probably more realistic.

    But it doesn’t really matter, except that people like Ed Davey think it matters. That’s when they start cutting spending and raising taxes to balance the books! All they are doing is reducing the population’s ability to buy more saving certificates!

    Having said that, if inflation and an overheating economy becomes an issue then Govt does need to tighten up. Otherwise Govt debt, in a healthy economy, will take care of itself.

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