26 February 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems join Amnesty International UK in fight against NI abortion laws
  • Cable: Housebuilders must not pinch their profits from the public purse
  • PM in the process of creating a double cliff-edge
  • Govt’s no deal papers shows PM driving UK to a cliff edge
  • Labour fail to oppose Govt’s controversial knife crime orders

Lib Dems join Amnesty International UK in fight against NI abortion laws

Today, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine will join women impacted by NI abortion law along with Amnesty International UK, other MPs, and other service providers and activists to hand in a petition to decriminalise abortion.

Ms Jardine will be one of 28 women, the number who travel from NI to England each week for an abortion, walking with suitcases to the Northern Ireland Office. The suitcases will be filled with 62,000 signatures calling on Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to decriminalise abortion.

Ms Jardine said:

We cannot allow the women of Northern Ireland to continue to be denied the same human rights as those of us in the rest of the UK, and indeed across Europe, an injustice which has been criticised by the United Nations.

The collapse of devolution in Northern Ireland is no excuse for ignoring the voices of women who have been raped, are expecting a child with a fatal foetal abnormality or because they just cannot be pregnant, and have sought an abortion.

Today the Liberal Democrats are standing alongside Amnesty and colleagues from across the political divide to give those women a voice.

It’s time the Government listened to them and to the 62,000 people who have signed the petition, who are calling for the decriminalisation of abortion.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said:

62,000 people are calling on the Northern Ireland Secretary of State to decriminalise abortion. They recognise the grave harm caused by the existing law and want change.

All eyes are firmly on the Secretary of State to see how she’ll respond. For too long our demands for equality have been ignored and our rights sacrificed for political expediency.

The time for change is now. Northern Ireland cannot be left behind as the only part of the UK and Ireland with a near total ban on abortion. It’s 2019 – time we had laws that respect and value women’s lives.

Cable: Housebuilders must not pinch their profits from the public purse

Responding to the announcements that Persimmon’s profits have topped £1 billion as it is under scrutiny over its continued involvement in the Help to Buy scheme, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Far from benefiting first time buyers, the major effect of Help to Buy is to drive up demand while having no effect on supply. Prices go up and buyers are forced off the housing ladder. The result is not help for those who need it, but a boost to the profits of big developers.

Liberal Democrats have set out how government could be delivering 300,000 homes a year over the next decade, by creating a British Housing Company as a dedicated, not-for-profit body to build on land acquired compulsorily without profits from land scarcity.

The fact that Persimmon’s profits have topped £1 billion at the taxpayer’s expense is a scandal. The Government must act to stop Help to Buy, rather than allowing big housebuilders to pinch their profits from the public purse.

PM in the process of creating a double cliff-edge

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons today, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is a positive step that the Prime Minister has ensured MPs will have the chance to put off No-Deal Brexit.

However, rather than ending the uncertainty, the PM has instead created a potential double cliff edge that businesses will need to plan for.

The consensus in the House of Commons is becoming increasingly clear; her deal will not get through, No-Deal will not get through. As Liberal Democrats have been saying for months, the only way to end the impasse is to give the public the final say through a people’s vote and an option to stay in the EU.

Govt’s no deal papers shows PM driving UK to a cliff edge

Responding to the Government’s release of their papers on the ‘Implications for business and trade of a no deal exit on 29 March 2019’, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The assessments made of the UK’s preparedness for a no deal makes sobering reading. With nearly a third of critical projects off track and the UK economy set to shrink by up to 9%, the Prime Minister must rule out no deal at any time and in all circumstances.

The only reason no deal is still on the table is because Theresa May has been trying to frighten MPs into supporting her already defeated deal. Now we know MPs will be able to vote down no deal in March, it becomes even clearer what a waste of time and money this tactic has been.

These papers are a tragic reminder of how Theresa May’s scaremongering has driven the country to a cliff edge. The only real alternative is to offer the public a final say, with the option to stay in the EU.

Labour fail to oppose Govt’s controversial knife crime orders

Tonight the Conservative Government’s controversial ‘ASBO-style’ knife crime prevention orders were passed 145-84, with 63 Liberal Democrat peers voting against the Government compared to just 17 peers from Labour.

Responding to the vote, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson in the Lords Brian Paddick said:

Tonight the Labour Party failed to oppose the Government’s controversial knife crime prevention orders.

ASBOs didn’t work to tackle anti-social behaviour, and these new knife ASBOs won’t work to tackle knife crime. They will unnecessarily criminalise children as young as 12, put more young people in prison on pointless short-term sentences, and waste valuable police time and resources.

Also commenting on the vote, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Liberal Democrats demand better for the victims of knife crime and their families.

We will oppose these proposals in the Commons and demand a real solution: more community police officers and a proper public health approach to tackle the shocking rise in violent crime.

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25 Comments

  • nigel hunter 27th Feb '19 - 12:05am

    I agree with our house building policy.It to reward Tory donors.would not surprise me if the Tories had engineered the position

  • A 2-3 month extension is no extension. It is tricking us into burning all bridges. LibDems must label it as such.

  • Peter Hirst 28th Feb '19 - 1:18pm

    The emphasis must be on restoring democratic self rule to the people of Northern Ireland. It is a travesty that more is not being done to do this. Making rules on their behalf, however worthy is very much a secondary issue.

  • Peter Martin 28th Feb '19 - 2:45pm

    @ Peter Hirst,

    I disagree. The people of Northern Ireland, and Scotland and Wales too, need to decide whether they want to be a part of the UK. If they do then we aren’t “making rules on their behalf”. We’re all making rules on each others’ behalf. We all have equal voting rights with one another.

    Democracy only really works when there are a large enough number of floating voters who will switch their votes if they aren’t happy with what they voted for previously. So if the voters vote the same every election on religious/ethnic/nationalistic lines, come what may, then it won’t work. It won’t work in Northern Ireland. That’s the problem in many African countries as well as in the Balkan countries. Serbians vote for Serbian parties, Bosnians vote for Bosnian parties etc. So unless your ethnic group is in a majority your party will never form a government. That often leads to some sort of military confrontation.

  • Peter Martin 28th Feb '19 - 3:00pm

    ” The only real alternative is to offer the public a final say, with the option to stay in the EU”

    If you want another referendum you are going to have to also allow for the option of the UK genuinely leaving the EU and not the May option of the UK becoming a vassal state of the EU. If I understand Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry correctly, the choice they have in mind is between Remain and what they say is a “credible leave option”. This will almost certain mean the May so-called deal.

    This won’t be acceptable and will be largely boycotted by the Leave side. Trying to hold a pseudo-referendum in such circumstances won’t solve anything.

  • Mick Taylor 28th Feb '19 - 3:02pm

    I think, and I very much believe the ERG fear, that an extension to article 50 is the beginning of the end for Brexit.
    1. If there is to be an extension there has to be agreement with the EU27 about what it is for and what will be gained if it is agreed. Does anyone think a short extension will change matters?
    2. The EU may not agree to an extension, so we would have to withdraw article 50 and resubmit it later. Does anyone seriously think that it would be resubmitted?
    3. Missing the March deadline may well mean there have to be EU elections and who knows what that would throw up.

  • Mick Taylor 28th Feb '19 - 3:12pm

    @Peter Martin
    No referendum will satisfy the extreme leavers and it is pointless to try and win them over. They will rage and shout and tell lies and there is no reasoning with them.
    The best we can hope for – and I write as one who does not support referenda in any circumstances – is that the majority of the voting population will look at May’s deal and reject it. It’s certainly not a done deal and it is the remain campaign’s to lose.
    The electorate has been swelled by 3 years of young voters coming on to the roll and 3 years of elderly people leaving them.
    A remain campaign that tries to frighten people – like the 2016 campaign – will not succeed. No. If we do have a referendum, the remain campaign must sell the benefits of the EU and try and dispel some of the myths. Certainly, the people at the helm in 2016 should not be allowed anywhere near a further campaign, if it happens.

  • Peter Martin 28th Feb '19 - 3:53pm

    @ Mick Taylor

    “The electorate has been swelled by 3 years of young voters coming on to the roll and 3 years of elderly people leaving them”

    I see. “The Leave voters are dying off. Yippee!” argument!

    But on the other hand everyone is slowly metamorphing from a younger to an older voter! So maybe that has an effect too?

    Look, if you want another referendum then fair enough. Ask the question again. But, if there’s one thing we nearly all, Remainers and Leavers alike, agree, on it’s that we don’t want Mrs May’s deal! Hardly anyone is going to vote for it.

    There’s really no point having a referendum if the choice is May’s deal or remain. You’ll win easily if we don’t turn up. You might as well save the taxpayer several million and just cancel Art50.

    That’s what you want, so go for it! We’ll see what happens afterwards!

  • Alex Macfie 28th Feb '19 - 5:08pm

    Peter Martin: If everyone as they grew up automatically adopted the attitudes and values of their elders, then we’d still be executing gay people, openly discriminating on race and gender, and tolerating domestic abuse. Especially for social issues, cohort is much more of a determinant than age as such in determining a person’s outlook. And as far as Brexit is concerned, cohort is almost certainly the defining factor shaping people’s views. This is because today’s young people have grown up in an environment where they are used to freedom to travel and work abroad, and do not have the sort of Empire nostalgia that many of their elders had, because they weren’t even born at the time when that was at all relevant.

  • nvelope2003 28th Feb '19 - 7:50pm

    I expect Hitler would have told anyone who had had the courage to ask for another election that they had had one in 1933 and why would they want another ? and he had Herr von Papen, the so called moderate Conservative, to back him up like Mrs May here. History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Feb '19 - 8:45pm

    nvelope2003: In fact when the German President Hindenburg died, Hitler said he would combine both jobs without a presidential election and would be called Fuhrer (leader).
    I have read that he later wanted people to worship him as well. If true that goes beyond the divine right of Kings. Can a law be just if it has not been arrived at democratically?
    Democracy in the UK depends on the widenings of the franchise after World War One.

  • Peter Martin 28th Feb '19 - 8:48pm

    @nvelope2003,

    It’s never a good idea to bring Hitler into these discussions. Of course it’s normal enough to want another referendum. You lost the first one so why wouldn’t you?

    Isn’t it also normal for the result of any election or referendum to be implemented before having another one? If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014 wouldn’t it have been fair to have just given it to them?

    If the Westminster Govt had dragged its feet for three years, and demanded high severence payments etc would it have been reasonable to use a “that was then and this is now” argument to have another referendum? I think the Scots might have become somewhat annoyed about that!

    What annoys me is that, if we do have a referendum, we are likely to be asked to tick the box against one of these options:

    1) I am completely bonkers and want the UK to sign up to Theresa May’s worst-ever-deal-in-history EU “agreement”.

    2) I’m quite sane and think it is much better to accept that we’re trapped in the EU and there’s nothing much that can be done about it.

    The wording will probably be slightly different but that’s what it will come down to!

  • nvelope2003 28th Feb '19 - 9:26pm

    Peter Martin: Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom and not a sovereign state. I think if it had voted to leave there would have been the same attempts to keep it in as was done with Ireland (with disastrous results in that instance). The EU is an association of sovereign states which each have the right to leave and this has been accepted by the other 27 but clearly they would prefer us to stay. No one gives up without a struggle and if you believe in something you must do everything you can to save it. Nothing is perfect but we often have to support the lesser of two evils.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Mar '19 - 8:11am

    @Peter Martin: To say that “the result of any election or referendum [should] be implemented before having another one” only makes sense if the vote is binding. For case of an election that’s easy — the “implementation” is simply the automatic result of the vote as per the legislation and/or constitution. For a referendum, it can only work if (i) there is a concrete implementation plan put before the voters if the result is for a change to the status quo, and (ii) this plan is automatically kickstarted as a result of the vote. An example of this is the AV referendum, which if “Yes” had won would have automatically triggered a Statutory Instrument to put the required changes into effect, as provided for in the legislation.
    As the EU referendum was explicitly stated (in the legislation, which is the only place where it matters) as advisory, there is nothing to “implement”. The Government’s claim that the result gave it the right to use Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 was rejected by the Court. But even in countries where binding referendums are common (e.g. Switzerland) implementation of can be aborted midway. And it’s obvious why this needs to be allowed for — the implementation may be a long complex process, and could prove unworkable or have undesirable consequences, or public opinion could change. And both of these have arguably happened in the case of Brexit.

  • Arnold Kiel 1st Mar '19 - 8:49am

    No deal is no peoples’ vote option. It would mean that Parliament gives an illegal option to the people, by which it would then be bound. Not even the roughest failed states on this planet would do such a thing. No-dealers know this, and therefore construe an accidental route, including EU-scapegoating, towards it. Formal parliamentary endorsement would create unbearable and unlimited liabilities.

    I am repeating, because nobody seems to realise this: the European Parliament elections must come first. A parallel peoples’ vote is IMO politically and practically impossible, and might be made unnecessary by them. All serious remainers must push for a 9-, better 21-month extension now and concentrate all energies on the EU elections. Domestic realignment comes thereafter.

  • Peter Martin 1st Mar '19 - 9:47am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “Parliament gives an illegal option to the people”

    Parliament makes UK laws so it doesn’t have a problem making anything legal or illegal as it sees fit. Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon allows a member state to leave after supplying two years notice. It doesn’t stipulate there has to be a prior agreement with the EU.

    So any suggestion of illegality is quite fanciful on your part.

  • Daniel Walker 1st Mar '19 - 10:26am

    @Peter Martin “So any suggestion of illegality is quite fanciful on your part

    “No Deal” violates the Good Friday Agreement, so is illegal under international law, unless the Government repudiates the GFA explicitly, which it (thankfully) has not.

  • Arnold Kiel 1st Mar '19 - 10:32am

    Peter Martin,

    Leaving without a deal is illegal because it would be a breach of the GFA (by one of its guarantors), the UK would willingly default on its undisputed financial obligations, and because it would break the good faith of EU expats (both ways) and all shareholders and employees in all importing and exporting businesses who were relying in good faith on protection by the Lisbon treaty and the ECJ.

    Be assured the entire juridical system of the UK will address the legality of this for decades to come; in itself another debilitating feature of no deal.

  • @Peter Martin

    If no-one wants May’s deal then why is it being “forced” upon us?

    You have to say by your arguments it was the absolutely the outcome of the referendum – the UK voted to leave and that leave deal would be implemented and negotiated by whoever was in power at the time and we thought at the time that would be a Conservative government – with a party and indeed Government pretty much as constituted now. Indeed the referendum put (may be unfortunately) no restrictions on what the Government could negotiate. We put ourselves in their hands according to YOUR viewpoint.

    For me the great strength of a democracy is that we don’t have to live under something we don’t like for one hour or one day more than we have to if we don’t want to. There are I appreciate arguments over the time between referendums. But given that we don’t have any written constitution or rules on these matters, there is no minimum time. If we had ALL woken up the next day and decided that we had made a terrible mistake we could have held another referendum to reverse it immediately.

    It is also clear that MPs can introduce effectively whatever rules and laws they like and they pay the democratic price and are subject to democratic judgement at that the next general election.

    In practice there is a “democratic” or at least an MP lock as they are the gatekeepers to a referendum. So we would be having another referendum on Scottish independence if MSPs vote for it. But the SNP (along with the Scottish Greens) don’t think they can win one at the moment.

  • Mick Taylor 1st Mar '19 - 12:23pm

    @Peter Martin. I said nothing about celebrating the decease of some elder voters. I was just stating the facts. As it happens, some of the very eldest voters voted remain. But it has been shown that the balance between remain and leave is shifting because of the change in the electorate and that IF NOTHING ELSE HAD CHANGED, leave would have lost their majority by now.
    What I find very hard to accept is your attitude to democracy. If people change their minds, then that should be reflected in the decisions that are made. In a fully representative parliament this would be reflected in the way MPs vote. What you and other leavers want to do is freeze the decision made in 2016 and not accept any possibility that people have changed their minds.
    The other Brexit fantasy seems to be that there is a deal out there if we hold our nerve. After nearly 3 years it is clear to most people that Mrs May’s deal – which I agree is awful – is the best the EU will offer given May’s red lines.
    As parliament isn’t prepared – or so it seems – to put the best interests of the country before party political considerations there are two choices:
    1. Withdraw article 50
    2. Offer people a choice between the deal the government have negotiated and staying as we are.
    I’d go for withdrawing article 50, but many – including most people in my own party – baulk at that so they want a referendum.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Mar '19 - 2:14pm

    @ Mick Taylor,
    I am not so sure that changing demographics will be the deciding factor.

    The ages of people who voted leave or remain is a description not an analysis. Expert analysis shows that the major factor across all age groups was educational attainment.

    The older people I speak to who voted leave supports this analysis, they are not daft, but they did not have the educational opportunities that have arisen because of the expansion of higher education.

    There are those who wish a return to grammar schools, forgetting that failure at 11 plus condemned the majority of children, now entering late middle and old age to exams that were ‘suited to their particular intelligence’ , thus limiting their scope to obtain higher qualifications.

  • Sean Hyland 1st Mar '19 - 2:17pm

    @Mick Taylor, i agree you were just stating statistical facts and not in any way celebrating anybodies demise. However some arguing for a referendum, not you, have used this purely as an argument and that it mean no campaigning is needed and it comes across as almost celebrating death as if all old folk voted leave.

    I personally have no issue with another referendum as I accept it as democracy in action. I can understand why some on both sides of the argument resist it and I think it comes down to perception of what the referendum was. People may moan and groan about general and local elections but they accept that they are part of the life cycle of democratic government. The referendum was, in my view, “sold” as a one-off once in a generation binding choice and some are unhappy that that they may have been “sold a pup”. This is different to people accepting that both sides of the campaigning were not very inspiring. It’s a view shared by some friends and neighbours from both sides of the argument.

    How you change that perception I don’t know but it is, I believe, valid to ask for a new vote.

  • richard underhill 7th Mar '19 - 10:29pm

    Karen Bradley has apologized for her reply to an oral question. There have been calls for her to resign her job as Northern Ireland Secretary.
    BBC 24 hour News asked David Ford of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland for an opinion. He said that he wanted her to “do her job”. One reason for not wanting her resignation would be the difficulty of finding someone to replace her.
    https://news.sky.com/story/northern-ireland-secretary-karen-bradley-profoundly-sorry-for-troubles-comments-11657601
    The devolved assembly has not met since it was elected.

  • richard underhill 7th Mar ’19 – 10:29pm
    Karen Bradley has apologized for her reply to an oral question. There have been calls for her to resign her job as Northern Ireland Secretary.
    BBC 24 hour News asked David Ford of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland for an opinion. He said that he wanted her to “do her job”. One reason for not wanting her resignation would be the difficulty of finding someone to replace her.
    https://news.sky.com/story/northern-ireland-secretary-karen-bradley-profoundly-sorry-for-troubles-comments-11657601
    The devolved assembly has not met since it was elected.

    If suitability/competence were yardsticks for this government most ministerial positions would be vacant.

    We have had a Northern Ireland Secretary ignorant of N. Irish politics. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/n…-37300160.html

    A Brexit minister who didn’t understand Dover’s importance…
    https://www.kentonline.co.uk/dover/n…ux-pas-193081/

    A Defence Secretary threatening China with a Aircraft(less) Carrier.

    And as for Grayling’s failings; when I heard he was tackling pot-holes I seriously considered trading my car for a ‘HUMVee

    You couldn’t make it up!

  • Richard Underhill 6th Apr '19 - 1:42pm

    “Persimmon’s profits have topped £1 billion” and payments made to directors are very high. Persimmon’s delivery of product has been widely criticised, but, CAVEAT EMPTOR! customers should ensure that they have a survey. Possibly some are relying on survey’s done for the mortgage lender. A full survey can be more expensive, but problems demonstrated by customers who have moved in show some serious problems, and other builders also have problems trying to build large numbers of houses quickly.
    Grand Designs has started a new series on Channel 4, called The Street. The local council has bought land, not sold it to developers, relaxed some planning criteria and encouraged self-builders, who are not all as young as in some previous programmes. The buildings are not all “Grand”, but they are individual.
    Architects can misjudge the balance between the Good and the Ideal. If they propose zinc roofing try considering steel, which might be cheaper.
    If developers and builders “Cannot get the staff” please consider what the Leave campaign and the decision to vote for Article 50 has done to the availability of skilled and experienced workers.

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