29 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers
  • Clarity needed about 5-mile rule
  • High coronavirus threat level raises questions about Govt’s priorities
  • Davey responds to furlough scheme details

Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers

Responding to reports that, if China imposes its new security law on Hong Kong, the Home Office appears ready to extend visa rights for all British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong, whether or not they are current BNO passport holders, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

If confirmed, this is welcome news. This move is long overdue.

I introduced legislation to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK back in February. I am glad the government is finally listening.

Beijing has repeatedly shown contempt for the Sino-British Declaration. Under that Declaration, the UK has a duty to the people of Hong Kong.

The government must now ensure all Hong Kongers are protected. Relatively few people have BNO status as the offer was closed years ago.

My cross-party Hong Kong Bill would reopen the passport offer to also give young Hong Kongers the right to live in the UK, regardless of whether they are a dependent of a BNO status holder. I am urging the government to do this immediately.

Clarity needed about 5-mile rule

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today called on the Welsh Government to give urgent clarity around the new 5-mile rule and how it effects different areas of Wales.

In the Welsh Government announcement today First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that two individuals would be allowed to meet, so long as they maintained social distancing.

As part of this new guidance, people are not meant to travel more than 5 miles for these interactions. However, the First Minister made clear that in rural communities, where the distance to even essential services can be greater than 5 miles, there would be some flexibility to this limit.

In response, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the Welsh Government to be completely upfront about how they plan to communicate these new regulations and to make this distinction clear.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

While I welcome today’s easing of restrictions many questions remain. I know the Welsh Government is making these decisions to try and keep us safe, but in order for people to have confidence in the rules they must be clearly explained.

In his press Conference today the First Minister seemed to imply there was flexibility in the new five-mile restriction than it initially was reported. This is a really important distinction, especially for rural communities where five miles is not a huge distance to travel.

The Welsh Government need to provide urgent clarity around any flexibility within the new regulations. We must trust people to be responsible and follow the rules, but also ensure the rules take into account the different situations in different parts of Wales.

Lead Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for South Wales Central Cllr Rodney Berman said:

Clarity on how the new rules apply are vital for people in urban areas across Wales. Allowing people to go a little further afield could help with social distancing, such as in cases where the local park is popular and therefore somewhat crowded.

This may be a particular issue for those living in flats or terraced houses who may have limited or no access to gardens of their own.

I know that some people are also querying if it’s possible to see friends or family who may live a little further than five miles away from them, so I am sure they would be keen to know if any leeway might apply to them too.

I understand the Welsh Government taking a cautious approach to ensure we avoid a second wave, but we need to make sure at the same time that the rules are sufficiently clear and understandable.

High coronavirus threat level raises questions about Govt’s priorities

Responding to reports that lockdown measures are being lifted before experts are ready to reduce the level of threat from coronavirus from “high”, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The measures announced yesterday to relax lockdown will have been welcomed by many, but the fact that this has happened despite the threat level of the virus remaining high will rightly cause concern. Any rushed or premature steps that do not follow the scientific advice put lives at risk.

Furthermore, if the Government doesn’t ensure that the test, trace and isolate system to keep people safe is working effectively, meeting friends, family and loved ones again could prompt a second spike. With announcements being rushed forward to try and distract from the Cummings saga, the Government is playing fast and loose with public health.

At every stage the Liberal Democrats have been clear that the Government must listen to the experts and follow the science. Protecting public health and tackling the spread of the virus must always be the Government’s number one priority – many are questioning whether this remains the case.

Davey responds to furlough scheme details

Responding to today’s COVID-19 update from the Chancellor, Acting Leader of the Liberal Demcrats Ed Davey said:

The Chancellor’s plan to support employees and businesses to transition out of furlough is the right one, and one the Liberal Democrats have long called for, to avoid even greater redundancies.

The extension of support for the self-employed is especially welcome, although it is deeply disappointing that the Chancellor failed to address the gaping flaws in his original scheme that has left out over a million people who were either newly self-employed or were paid by profits.

In the event of a second spike, the Chancellor must make clear he will be flexible and ready to reinstate this support, otherwise many businesses and self-employed people will face a precipice once again.

Ministers must now urgently turn their attention to planning the green economic recovery we need to reduce the increase in unemployment caused by coronavirus and to tackle the climate emergency.

COVID-19 has taken a horrendous toll on the United Kingdom – on people’s health and on people’s livelihoods. At this most serious of times, we need the Government to rebuild confidence with credible policies on public health and the economy, and sadly there remains a long way to go for Boris Johnson’s Government after recent events.

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One Comment

  • Peter Hirst 1st Jun '20 - 10:26am

    Giving people who live in Hong Kong the life long right to live here seems the least we can do to help them. We might want to put an end date to applying. Regarding Coronavirus how are all these people being infected? Are we closing transmission routes fast enough if at all?

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