28-30 October 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems call for Suella Braverman to hand over texts and emails for future inquiry
  • Jane Dodds – The Housing Sector in Wales is Broken
  • COP27: Nadine Dorries as the voice of reason?
  • Liz Truss phone hacking story: Urgent investigation needed
  • Suella Braverman: Government must publish legal advice on detention of asylum seekers

Lib Dems call for Suella Braverman to hand over texts and emails for future inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Home Office Permanent Secretary, asking him to facilitate the handover of Suella Braverman’s text messages, WhatsApps, and emails for use in any future inquiry into her misconduct.

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael raised concerns that the embattled Home Secretary could take advantage of a loophole exploited by Boris Johnson during an inquiry into the funding of the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat. The former Prime Minister claimed that he had been unable to hand over important messages because he had changed his phone.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael said:

We need an independent inquiry with access to all the relevant evidence, to establish the true scale of Suella Braverman’s rule breaking.

We saw how Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers have tried time and again to duck accountability and cover up the truth.

Suella Braverman must be required to hand over all relevant evidence now before it is too late.

It took less than a day for Rishi Sunak’s government to be mired in the same old Conservative sleaze. His promise of ‘integrity’ was broken within hours of entering Downing Street. If he was serious about integrity he would commit to an independent inquiry now.

Jane Dodds – The Housing Sector in Wales is Broken

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have raised concerns over an “alarming rise” in the number of households rough sleeping in Wales and at risk of homelessness in Wales, citing inaction by the Conservative party on the cost-of-living, as well as poor housing laws from Labour in Wales as contributing factors.

The figures showed a 28% increase in rough sleeping and come after figures last month showed a 27% annual increase in those threatened with homelessness (Section 66) in the year 2021- 22.

Welsh Government figures also show that only 1,232 new homes were built between April and June, 27% less than in the same quarter of 2019.

If this rate was replicated throughout the whole of 2022, 4,928 homes would be completed far below the median estimated annual need of 7,400.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

These figures are extremely alarming and point to serious problems with the Welsh housing sector and the wider housing market.

A factor in this is almost certainly the skyrocketing inflation we are witnessing right now, with food and energy bills increasing so much it is not surprising that families are struggling to make ends meet. Research from the Bevan Foundation showed that 39% of people in Wales were having to cut back their spending on food.

These rapid price rises have caused families to be hit by severe financial instability with poorer households shown to be bearing the brunt.

The Conservative Party at Westminster has utterly failed to introduce the level of support needed to prevent this suffering. Instead, they actually made things considerably worse by causing mortgage rates to skyrocket at the hands of their botched mini-budget.

But the Welsh Labour Government has not got clean hands in this crisis either. The decision made by Welsh Labour to delay renting reforms in Wales has likely contributed to housing insecurity. Rather than ban no-fault evictions like England and Scotland, Labour has chosen to simply increase the notice period from 2-6 months, with even this limited action being delayed.

We also need to see more homes being built and while policies such as increasing taxation on second homes are welcome they are not a silver bullet or a replacement for house building. Labour must urgently come up with a plan in hand with local authorities to beat the housing crisis.

With the cost-of-living crisis set to significantly worsen as we get further into to winter, we need strong action from both the Welsh Labour Government and Conservative UK Government urgently because right now too many people are being let down.

COP27: Nadine Dorries as the voice of reason?

Responding to Nadine Dorries’ tweet on COP27, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Climate Crisis, Wera Hobhouse MP said:

When Nadine Dorries becomes the voice of reason in the Conservatives, you know we’re in trouble.

Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet are promising nothing but delays to climate action at a critical point.

We must not allow our climate targets to be missed due to this inept Conservative government.

Liz Truss phone hacking story: Urgent investigation needed

The Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent investigation, following a report that Liz Truss’s phone was hacked by Russian agents during the summer’s Conservative leadership campaign but that the details were suppressed by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

These allegations are extremely concerning and raise serious questions for Boris Johnson and those at the heart of this government.

We need an urgent independent investigation to uncover the truth. Was Liz Truss’s phone hacked by Russia, was there a news blackout and if so why?

If it turns out this information was withheld from the public to protect Liz Truss’s leadership bid, that would be unforgivable.

We cannot allow the Conservative Party’s political games to be put ahead of the country’s interests and national security.

Suella Braverman: Government must publish legal advice on detention of asylum seekers

  • Ignoring legal advice on detention of asylum seekers is both “unethical” and could lead to “colossal waste of taxpayers’ money”
  • Home Office already paid out £70m in compensation and adverse legal costs last year

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to publish the legal advice reportedly ignored by Suella Braverman that the government has been illegally detaining thousands of asylum seekers in appalling conditions.

By ignoring the advice, the Home Secretary’s actions could potentially cost taxpayers millions of pounds in legal action.

It comes as research by the Liberal Democrats has found the Home Office paid out £70 million of taxpayers’ money in compensation and adverse legal costs last year, enough to pay for 1,700 more police officers. This includes £25.1m to 768 victims of the Windrush scandal and £12.7m to 572 people who were wrongfully detained in immigration centres.

The analysis also shows that compensation payments by the Home Office have trebled over the past three years, from £13.6 million in 2019-20 to £41.1 million last year.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

The government must immediately publish the legal advice it received on the detention of asylum seekers at the Manston Centre, who have been forced to endure appalling conditions. The public must not be kept in the dark, they need to know whether the Home Secretary has knowingly acted unlawfully.

Ignoring this legal advice would not only be completely unethical, it could lead to a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. If it is confirmed that Suella Braverman acted unlawfully, Rishi Sunak would surely have no choice but to sack her.

The failure of successive Conservative Home Office ministers to respect the rules has already cost taxpayers millions that could have been spent making our communities safer. The Government needs to get a grip and stop this scandalous waste of money.

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  • Jack Nicholls 31st Oct '22 - 4:22pm

    Today is the day for holding Braverman accountable for allegedly breaking the law. Tomorrow will be the day – and well past time – for asking why our country, even within the law and even under Labour governments, treats asylum seekers worse than 16th century vagabonds. Until we overhaul our appalling approach to asylum seekers, whatever route they come by, we have at best a leasehold on the right to be called a civilised nation. We can rely on Labour to focus their questions in the house tonight on probity – a necessary point of inquiry, but insufficient. We should, without compromise, focus ours on humanity.

  • Martin Gray 1st Nov '22 - 5:45am

    Jack …..How many do we let in ?
    £7 million per day spent on hotel accommodation alone . We have 1 million + on our social housing waiting lists.
    £1 billion + spent on temporary accommodation to ease that list .
    If you’re advocating an open door policy then I’m all ears ?
    This current level is unsustainable given the statistics
    You’ll never understand the anger it causes in local communities ..
    It’ll be a significant topic come 2024 & people have heard the usual rubbish – work more closely with France – which is in receipt of half a billion pounds of taxpayers money …

  • Martin Gray 1st Nov ’22 – 5:45am……………Jack …..How many do we let in ?…………You’ll never understand the anger it causes in local communities ……

    Q.1 As many refugees (look up the definition) as need to come here..

    As for the second bit..That anger is mostly manufactured by this government’s deliberate policies, the constant demonisation of ‘immigrants’ and the right wing newspapers who ‘played the same tune’ regarding the plight of Jews fleeing 1930’s Germany..

  • Jenny Barnes 1st Nov '22 - 9:19am

    “You’ll never understand the anger it causes in local communities ..”

    If one is running a government that consistently immiserates the poor to fund the rich, defunds the social services on which we all depend – councils, NHS, social services, potholed roads, no social housing, no GP appointments, no bus services etc – then you might have a problem if people blame you for it. So – create a scapegoat or several . The current government has decided on refugees, which is why see all this (literally) inflammatory rhetoric about invasions. You may be able to think of historical parallels where right wing governments blamed all bad things on particular groups in society.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Nov '22 - 10:07am

    “That anger is mostly manufactured by this government’s deliberate policies, the constant demonisation of ‘immigrants’ and the right wing newspapers who ‘played the same tune’ regarding the plight of Jews fleeing 1930’s Germany..”

    Quite – and judging by what has appeared in the news the conditions at Manston mightn’t seem out of place in a concentration camp.

  • Patrick Bailey 1st Nov '22 - 12:07pm

    Adding to my 9.09 post…

    For some nothing really changes… In 1938 the Daily Mail ran the headline ” German Jews Pouring into Britain”(from a ‘Daily Mail reporter’) and directly stated that it would be impossible to give permanent shelter in “this thickly populated land [Britain] to masses of immigrants…..

    I wonder how, after seeing the 1945 scenes from Auschwitz et al, that anonymous reporter felt?

  • Martin Gray 1st Nov '22 - 12:21pm

    We are languishing on 10% in the polls ….
    Mark – I clearly said ‘if’…
    Expats …if you’re door knocking with a policy like that you’d better come up with a figure…You will be asked ..As many as we need – good luck with that
    Jenny there are hardly any social housing being built – or the accompanying infrastructure – those are the realties …
    Nonconform – your last paragraph is not worthy of a reply …

  • Martin Gray 1st Nov ’22 – 12:21pm…Expats …if you’re door knocking with a policy like that you’d better come up with a figure…You will be asked ..As many as we need – good luck with that….

    For those who believe your 5.45 mantra my ‘rosette’ would not get me a hearing..

    For anyone who would ask my views, my answer would be about how many foreign doctors, dentists, nurses, social workers and even fruit pickers we had when our NHS, Social Services and Farms actually functioned..How we need not ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and should ensure that those comparitively few ‘boat people’ are quickly processed and either granted asylum or returned to their country of origin, etc, etc..
    BTW for those who think the £120million Rwanada Agreement is a ‘great idea’, I’d mention Section 16; you remember, the bit about how “The Participants will make arrangements for the United Kingdom to resettle a portion of Rwanda’s most vulnerable refugees in the United Kingdom, recognising both Participants’ commitment towards providing better international protection for refugees.”

  • Alex Macfie 1st Nov '22 - 2:04pm

    There’s no point in us trading off our principles for popularity. It wouldn’t work. Anyone who wants to vote for a populist party will vote for the real deal, not a wannabe.

  • In focusing in on the moment, we are missing an important consideration – Suella’s seemingly fluent usage of her personal phone etc. for government business isn’t a one-off but a glimpse into what was probably business as usual for many years under Truss, Johnson and May; Suella probably just had the misfortune to use personal communications to the wrong person and so was found out. This corresponds to Johnson’s casual usage of personal communications. So rather than merely calling for Suella to resign, we should be calling for a fuller investigation into ministerial usage of personal communications since 2016.

  • Jack Nicholls 2nd Nov '22 - 8:12am

    It may serve the conversation if I contextualise my initial statement on terms of my broader views.

    – I think borders are inherently silly, and are barriers to humanitarianism and trade alike. They are only of use during pandemics, and even that doesn’t explain why they are where they are
    – I think refugee crises are created, by definition, by state failures, usually in multiple states, not by the refugees. If we had safe and accessible routes, there would be very few boats
    – I think if governments were serious about genuinely useful action, they would engage in a modern international concordat
    – I think the present system, even when it works as it is supposed to, is grounds for bringing a prosecution to the home office for what is functionally imprisonment, and would be widely seen as such in most other contexts
    – I would cheerfully accept a system wherein hypothetically some people get help they do not deserve over a system wherein legitimate claimants are rejected in the name of ‘getting tough’. I came to this view after seeing a PIP assessment close up
    – I think Tony Benn was right when he said how governments treat refugees shows us how they would treat the rest of us if they could get away with it.

    I’m done with little changes or system tweaking. I want a new, radically liberal and humanitarian approach.

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