25 September 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: Johnson rides roughshod with the law again

Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture Secretary Layla Moran today questioned Ministers on payments made by the Government to Hacker House, a company owned by Jennifer Arcuri.

The Sunday Times alleged that the company was incorrectly registered in the UK.

The paper also alleges that Ms Arcuri, a friend of Boris Johnson, benefitted from preferential treatment for public money and access to overseas trade missions when the Prime Minister was Mayor of London. These are now subject to an investigation by the London Assembly’s Oversight Committee.

Speaking after her Urgent Questionn in the House of Commons this afternoon, Layla Moran said:

The Government appears to have failed to check whether Hacker House was properly registered in the UK. Officials must conduct an urgent review into how this money was awarded, including who lobbied the Department for Hacker House to get the grant.

But the concerns raised by the Sunday Times run much deeper. The allegations about Boris Johnson’s time as Mayor need investigation. Ministers must ensure that they fully assist the London Assembly with their inquiry.

We are back in the Commons today because the Prime Minister was found to have ridden roughshod with the law of the land. It would be disappointing if we were to find that the Prime Minister has form in bending the rules for personal and political gain.

Swinson: This PM demeans the office he holds

Following comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons this evening, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

The Prime Minister tonight proved he is totally unfit for office.

He heard the pleas of MPs, many of whom who have faced death threats, to moderate his language and dismissed their concerns with the same callous bluster that has become his trademark.

To suggest the best way to honour Jo Cox, an MP who was murdered for what she believed in, was to pass his Brexit deal was sickening.

The office of Prime Minister is one that should seek to lift our debate and show the best of our Parliament. Boris Johnson demeaned that office with his words today, and he should apologise immediately for them.

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  • Guardian……Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse made Johnson a rather extraordinary offer in the Commons.
    She said she will vote for his new deal, with the proviso that he promises to let the people make the ultimate decision in a second referendum.
    This, she said, would “guarantee him” a majority………………

    What is going on?

  • expats – there’s nothing new in that. LibDems have said for some time that we would vote for a Brexit bill it ensured a referendum would take place. It’s just a mechanism to get a referendum – in which of course we would then campaign and vote to Remain.

  • nigel hunter 26th Sep '19 - 12:18am

    Ultimate decision on a 2nd referendum!? Once he gets what he wants he will renaigh on what he promises. .Yes, he is not to be trusted.

    What is going on?

  • nigel hunter 26th Sep '19 - 12:23am

    Yes, but to guarantee him a majority.! Are we not in the game to win our own majority!!

  • Wera Hobhouse was just repeating the offer made to Theresa May in Spring by Vince Cable. The Liberal Democrat MPs would support the PM’s deal if the Withdrawal Act contained a legally binding Deal vs Remain referendum. A People’s Vote. Of course since then Theresa May and Vince Cable have left office and we don’t yet have a Boris deal to judge. It’s not clear to me whether Wera was freelancing, confused or merely restating party policy which has been extended to any Boris deal. I’m sure it’ll be cleared up in due course but her basic point of a ‘ deal for referendum swap ‘ was established in Spring.

  • Ross McLean 26th Sep '19 - 3:25am

    Nigel – she is saying that if he brings back a deal we would want that to be put to a referendum, and if he agreed to a bill which put his deal to a referendum we would vote for it to give him a majority for that bill. Not for anything else. And he wouldn’t be able to renege on it because it would then be an Act of Parliament.
    David – Wera wasn’t confused or freelancing, she was just restating our policy: no he doesn’t have a deal but he keeps saying he intends to get one, so she was talking in that context.
    It’s all very hypothetical and of course we don’t really expect him to agree to it, but the ‘offer’ is nothing new. People need to take a deep breath.

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Sep '19 - 6:59am

    There is a high probability that Johnson will come back with a “new deal” in October, almost identical to May’s deal. There is also a reasonable probability that it will pass with the help of the Kinnockites. Amending it to add a referendum may be the only way to stop Brexit but Labour would have to come on board and I am not sure they will

  • Golly Gosh, If a LibDem spokesperson said the moon was made of green cheese there are those, on here, who would explain what they really, really meant and defend their statement.
    If Johnson gets the UK out of the EU on 31st October, as he promised, there will be a massive surge in his popularity and he’ll get a majority government in any subsequent GE; if he doesn’t, that’s a whole new ball game. BTW…This party has 18 votes, the SNP has twice that; this party can’t ‘guarantee’ anything.

    The idea that any promise of a referendum would be a ‘binding’ act of parliament is naive in the extreme; by what mechanism and law will it be binding? Theresa May promised a parliamentary vote on her deal and, days before, pulled it.

    Ignoring the fact that trusting Johnson on anything is a big, big mistake, after ‘Leaving’, what is to stop Johnson explaining how ‘his deal’ needs further detail (which will be true) as that is when future trade, security, etc. talks will become serious…Remember by then we’ll be ‘OUT’.

    The importance of the NHS, Police, Education, etc will be stressed. The long grass beckons.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Sep '19 - 9:37am

    What needs to happen, surely, is that Boris Johnson is obliged by the Benn Act to ask after October 17 for an extension of time for negotiation, so that we do NOT leave the EU on October 31. I imagine his appalling attempts to stir up popular feeling to demand Brexit by that date amount to a desperate ploy to avoid that failure of his promise. If an extension is sought and granted, an election will surely follow, and then hopefully there will be a Commons majority for the People’s Vote to be held.

  • Katharine,
    How does it work if one of the 27 refuse?

  • Boris Johnson’s behaviour in the part of the debate that I saw was astonishing; he failed to answer many questions and turned others into a rant about the advantages of a no-deal Brexit. He was elected by the Tory Party to achieve Brexit and he is ruthlessly and single-mindedly pursuing this objective. Any semblance of a reasoned debate was lost and the atmosphere was one of hostile contempt for MPs unless they agreed with his policy.

  • (Expats) “The idea that any promise of a referendum would be a ‘binding’ act of parliament is naive in the extreme; by what mechanism and law will it be binding?”

    Valid question, but the answer must be that a promise is not enough. Parliamentary approval should be on the basis that, unless and until the referendum is accomplished and its decision adopted, no approval to leave the EU is granted.

    (Katharin Pindar) “Boris Johnson is obliged by the Benn Act to ask … for an extension … If an extension is sought and granted, an election will surely follow, and then hopefully there will be a Commons majority for the People’s Vote to be held.”

    No, I don’t agree that would be a sensible strategy. Johnson is desperate to hold an election before the crunch decision is made about Brexit, since only then can he win on a populist slogan of “Get Brexit Done!” All his opponents should insist that the election must instead follow the Brexit crunch decision, when we have either decided to Remain (win for us!), or Leave with a May-like Deal (damp squib for Johnson), or got beaten and left with No Deal (disaster for Johnson, events will swiftly prove what an awful idea it was!) Whichever of these three things happens, Johnson will lose out. That’s why he is so desperate to hold an election first!

    It follows that we must insist on the referendum first, not the election. Otherwise we just play into Johnson’s hand.

    Some say that with a hung parliament an election is the only way forward. Rubbish. May in 2017 said an election was necessary to strengthen the Tories and Get Brexit Done. It didn’t work. Johnson in 2019 is just parroting what May said in 2017. It will probably fail again, creating only another hung parliament, though it may keep the Tories in government for five more years, which is Johnson’s main aim. It will be like Israel. An election will not resolve Brexit. A referendum will.

  • Mark – I note you have departed from the practice of listing the titles of all the day’s press releases at the start of your message. Is there any reason for this? It’s great that you post these – thankyou for doing it. But given we only get to see part of your message on the main site, it is really good if all the titles are listed here, then we can decide if we want to click the full message open or not.
    Any chance you could start doing this again?

  • @David Allen – No, I don’t agree that would be a sensible strategy. Johnson is desperate to hold an election before the crunch decision is made about Brexit, since only then can he win on a populist slogan of “Get Brexit Done!”
    Agree, I think what we are currently seeing, is a high stakes game of chicken and it would be a mistake to not have Brexit resolved before any approach is made to the public, whether that be a referendum or election.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Sep '19 - 9:43am

    David Allen, I agree that what we want is a referendum before an election, and it is surprising that more is not made of ‘the people’s will’ being most adequately served by the people being given another vote. However, I cannot see how it can happen, since there does not appear to be any majority in Parliament for that option. The most likely scenario seems to be that following the preventing of No Deal by the EU granting an extension, we shall have another election.

    My assumption which differs from yours is that in fact no deal (as opposed to No Deal!) can be agreed next month, so that the extension will be to allow more time for working out the deal. Our elections will then follow, and the winners will resume the work – and hopefully next (as is Labour party policy now) ask the people to decide between a deal and Remain.

  • Thanks Katharine. I take the point that there is currently no majority in Parliament for the proposition that a referendum should precede an election. Tom Watson can see the need, but he has not yet persuaded enough of his colleagues. I fear that egotism and greed are blinding the Opposition parties to where their real interests lie. Corbyn just longs to get back on the stump, where he shone in 2017, because he thinks he will be Labour’s hero again. He could be in for a rude awakening. The SNP are keen to cash in on their current popularity, as are too many Lib Dems. But fifty-odd Lib Dem seats, alongside an absolute majority for Johnson, is not going to be worth it.

    The rose-tinted specs brigade, always with us, think the evidence points to a Lib Dem / Labour / SNP resurgence (delete according to party membership). The evidence points otherwise. Johnson is winning. Look at the poll tracker:


    which shows a steady rise in Tory support, mostly at the expense of the Brexit Party, since Johnson took the leadership. We and Labour are now both flatlining, a long way behind. All the while that slogan “Get Brexit Done” can still be shouted, that won’t change.

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