28 November 2018 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Another sizeable batch today, although one of my colleagues has asked me to hold one back until tomorrow. Indeed, we’ve had so many that I’m breaking them up into two posts…

  • Tory failure to prepare for Brexit risks empty shops & disruption at ports
  • Lib Dems secure key concessions on counter-terror laws
  • Chancellor’s comments show May’s cabinet in chaos
  • Cable: PM must stop threatening the country with no-deal Brexit
  • Cable: UK could be worse off than Government impact assessments say

Tory failure to prepare for Brexit risks empty shops & disruption at ports

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has slammed the Tories for “refusing to provide information people need” as a House of Commons Committee finds that failures in preparing for Brexit mean there is a high risk of disruption at UK ports.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (28th November) published its report entitled “Department for Transport’s Implementation of Brexit.”

The Committee concluded that:

  1. There is slow progress and poor communication around Project Brock (plans for a 13 mile lorry park on the M20).
  2. The ability of businesses to plan is hampered by secrecy, Non-Disclosure Agreements with transport companies and a lack of detailed information from the Government.

The Public Accounts Committee demands an action plan from the Government before Christmas.

Meanwhile, questions asked by Layla Moran in Parliament found that the Department for Transport has signed 28 Non-Disclosure Agreements with external companies and organisations – meaning they can’t say what the Government is planning as it prepares for Brexit.

Liberal Democrat MP and Public Accounts Committee member, Layla Moran said:

It is utterly irresponsible that Conservative Ministers are leaving businesses and the public in the dark about the risks of delays and chaos at British ports if we leave the EU.

To add insult to injury, the Department for Transport is being exceptionally secretive and has even signed 28 non-disclosure agreements with transport companies meaning they can’t discuss the Government’s contingencies for Brexit.

If we see massive delays, tailbacks and lorry parks on motorways like the M20 leading to Dover, then within days we risk shortages of food and other essentials. This isn’t acceptable.

Liberal Democrats demand better, including an urgent action plan to address public concerns. Ultimately, the best way to avoid this mess is with a People’s Vote, including the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems secure key concessions on counter-terror laws

The Liberal Democrats have secured a number of important concessions from the Government on its Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

Ministers have tabled amendments to the Bill at Report Stage in the House of Lords, to address concerns raised by Liberal Democrat MPs and peers. These amendments would limit some of the Bill’s impact on civil liberties, including by creating clear defences for the new offences of travel to areas designated by the Home Secretary and viewing terrorism-related material online, where someone has a reasonable excuse for doing so.

Liberal Democrat MPs opposed the Bill at Third Reading in the House of Commons, but Labour voted with the Tories to pass it by 376 votes to 10. Liberal Democrat Peers have raised concerns about many aspects of the Bill as it makes its way through the House of Lords, and will continue to do so despite the Government’s concessions.

Responding to the Government’s amendments, Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Lords spokesperson for Home Affairs, said:

Through our opposition to these unnecessary, illiberal new laws, we have secured important changes that will reduce the risk of innocent people being wrongly convicted.

However, we are still fundamentally opposed to much of the Bill, most of which is based on the discredited ‘conveyor belt’ theory: that simply expressing extreme views inevitably leads to radicalisation and terrorist violence.

Completely innocent people could be arrested and detained simply for expressing an opinion, for undertaking legitimate research or for visiting a dangerous part of the world, even if they had a good reason for doing so.

It would also allow people to be detained at ports, airports and the border area between Northern Ireland and the Republic, have the contents of their phones and computers gone through, even if they had no intention of committing any offence.

We must do all we can to protect our country but not at the cost of losing our own liberty.

Chancellor’s comments show May’s cabinet in chaos

Responding to the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s comments this morning that the UK will be poorer if MPs back Theresa May’s deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

For the second time in a week the Chancellor has openly admitted that the UK will suffer economically because of Theresa May’s deal. He first stated that the UK will have less money and now he is saying that we will also be poorer and suffer job losses.

Yet, we are expecting the PM to stand up this afternoon and say this deal is in the best interests of the country. The Government cannot get support for this deal in parliament, that is why they must take this decision back to the people with a final say and the option to remain in the EU. The public want this mess out of the hands of this chaotic cabinet.

Cable: PM must stop threatening the country with no-deal Brexit

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable has slammed the Prime Minister for refusing to end uncertainty and rule out a no-deal Brexit, despite her assertions that her deal is the only option.

Challenging the Prime Minister at PMQs today, Vince Cable said there was “absolutely no reason why the public should be alarmed by continuing discussions about a chaotic no-deal.”

He added: “It is entirely within the power of the House and the Government to stop it. So will she reassure the public that under no circumstances this will happen?”

In response, the Prime Minister refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Following the exchange, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Prime Minister must stop threatening the country with a scenario virtually nobody supports.

This attempt to bamboozle businesses and backbenchers with the prospect of chaos lacks all credibility. The Commons will never support ‘no deal’, and Parliament has the power to stop it.

If MPs vote down May’s deal in December, the real alternative will be a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.

Cable: UK could be worse off than Government impact assessments say

Responding to the release of Brexit impact assessments by the Treasury, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

It was shocking to hear the Chancellor candidly admit that Brexit will make the country poorer.

The Government’s own analysis shows real wages falling, every region in the UK worse off and no Brexit dividend.

The assessment of Theresa May’s deal assumes a rapid transition to a frictionless trade deal with the EU and other free trade arrangements with third-party countries, but the prospect of these negotiations happening quickly is wildly optimistic.

In reality the Conservatives’ deal could leave the UK much worse off than even these dour assessments forecast.

The case is stronger than ever for giving the public the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.

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