28 September 2020 – Conference day 4 press releases

  • Liberal Democrats condemn Tories’ attacks on rule of law
  • Government must prepare for international ‘lifeboat’ system for Hong Kongers, Liberal Democrats warn

Liberal Democrats condemn Tories’ attacks on rule of law

In a policy motion passed this evening at the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference, the Party has condemned “Dominic Cummings’ long history of attacking the rule of law”.

The motion stated “the rule of law is fundamental to our society”, calling for the Government to drop plans “to restrict judicial review, weaken the Human Rights Act or undermine the rule of law in any way”.

Following the motion being passed, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

This Conservative Government have revealed time and again their disregard for the rule of law. From their recent determination to flout it with the Internal Market Bill, to their attacks on lawyers as ‘activists’ or judges when they disagree with their rulings, it is clear that part of Johnson’s and Cummings’ strategy is to trample on our rights to achieve their aims.

When the Government rides roughshod over people’s rights, the law is the vehicle for justice. However, the Government’s plans to rip up the Human Rights Act and restrict judicial review gives Ministers the ability to break the law with impunity.

Liberal Democrats are clear – we will always fight tooth and nail to defend individuals’ abilities to challenge the Government in court and uphold their rights. It is more important than ever that we oppose these Trump-like tactics to erode our democracy, allowing Ministers to become above the law.

Government must prepare for international ‘lifeboat’ system for Hong Kongers, Liberal Democrats warn

The Liberal Democrats have today agreed plans at their Autumn Conference that, if accepted by Ministers, would see all Hong Kongers offered a path to citizenship and a new international ‘lifeboat’ system if the situation in the region deteriorates further.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, the Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong and a Patron of Hong Kong watch, warned “the UK has a moral and legal duty to stand with Hong Kongers and ensure no one is left behind to suffer under the Chinese Communist Party.”

The debate at the Party’s first digital conference included contributions from anonymous members of the Liberal Democrats living in Hong Kong and saw speakers where a mask in solidarity with Joshua Wong, the pro-democracy protest leader in Hong Kong who was recently been under the National Security Law for a breach in 2019 of the anti-mask law in Hong Kong.

Mr Carmichael, who moved the motion, secured cross-party support before the summer recess for a Bill to require the Government to provide the “right of abode” to all Hong Kongers.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

If ever there was a time for us to act in support of Hong Kongers, it is now. With repeated reports of police brutality, the UK has a moral and legal duty to stand with Hong Kongers and ensure no one is left behind to suffer under the Chinese Communist Party.

During the Handover, Paddy Ashdown and others rightly argued that the UK should offer the right of abode with a path to citizenship if China ever reneged on the promises of the Sino-British declaration. It is clear this has now happened.

Boris Johnson’s slogan of ‘Global Britain’ is meaningless if his Government is timid in international human rights, including falling short of using Magnitsky style sanctions.

It is time the Prime Minister lives up to his commitments and moves quickly to put in place a lifeboat system to secure safe passage to the UK for Hong Kongers.

Johnny Patterson, Director Hong Kong Watch, added:

The UK’s new BNO policy is a significant step forward and helps go some way to righting a historic wrong.

But gaps do remain in the policy, particularly for younger people. Therefore, it is vital that the UK Government take steps both to make further provisions for those missed in the original policy, and to push other governments to establish an international lifeboat.

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  • John Marriott 3rd Oct '20 - 9:28am

    What shambles! Whether it’s mixed messaging on COVID precautions, breaking international agreements, handing out cash to your mates, staring into the abyss of a possible no deal Brexit, this government really does take the biscuit. As Dolly Parton might have said; “It costs a lot of money to look this bad!”

  • For those of us still reading the Guardian …. Jonathan Freedland writes a persuasive piece in today’s (Saturday’s) paper under the headline “No.10’s serial incompetence is no accident. It’s inevitable.”

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