9 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Labour are still a party of Brexit
  • Prisons inspector reveals Tory neglect
  • Northern Ireland votes mark historic step towards equality
  • Cable: We must continue the fight to stop no deal

Labour are still a party of Brexit

Responding to the reports that Jeremy Corbyn has finally agreed that the next PM must put their Brexit deal or a no deal exit to a People’s Vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Labour are still a party of Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn can pretend all he likes that the Labour Party are finally moving towards backing the Liberal Democrat policy of a People’s Vote, but it is clear it is still his intention to negotiate a damaging Brexit deal if he gets the keys to number ten.

Labour must start being transparent with the British people. Any Brexit deal, whoever it is negotiated by, will damage our country. It will mean job losses, problems for our NHS, and more time wasted on not tackling the biggest issues facing the UK.

The Liberal Democrats have been unequivocal in our fight to stop Brexit and Corbyn should join us. The only real route out of this mess is a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the EU.

Prisons inspector reveals Tory neglect

Responding to this year’s Chief Inspector of Prisons’ annual report, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

This report is utterly damning of the Conservatives’ neglect of our prisons.

With prisons so badly overcrowded and in such an appalling state, prisoners are not being properly rehabilitated. That means more reoffending and more people becoming victims of crime.

Too many people are in prison who shouldn’t be there. We know that short prison sentences don’t work, especially for women.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must end overcrowding in prisons by making greater use of alternatives such as community sentences, women’s centres and restorative justice.

Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, with properly-funded education, training and treatment for prisoners to build a life free from crime.

Northern Ireland votes mark historic step towards equality

Responding to the House of Commons voting to extend Same-Sex Marriage and reform abortion legislation in Northern Ireland, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

When it comes to an individual’s rights, Northern Ireland is years behind the rest of the UK and Ireland.

The vote today on marriage equality sends a powerful message of acceptance to the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland, and gives hope that further progress can and will be achieved.

Equally, today the women of Northern Ireland who have been ignored and abandoned by successive Governments have finally been listened to by this Parliament. For over 50 years women in Northern Ireland who have become pregnant through rape, expected a child with a fatal foetal abnormality, or were unable to continue their pregnancy, and have sought an abortion, have had limited choices.

There are so many things to criticise about this Parliament, but finally we are witnessing progress. Northern Ireland is clear and this Parliament is clear: people across our isles deserve equality and these votes are a historic step towards making that happen.

Cable: We must continue the fight to stop no deal

Responding to the votes on Dominic Grieve’s amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill this evening, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

The votes this evening were crucial in making it more difficult for the next Prime Minister to drag the UK out of the EU without a deal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to ensure this does not happen.

The fact that these votes were so close demonstrates the persistent impasse in Parliament.

The biggest issues facing the UK continue to be ignored while our country is dragged further and further into this Tory quagmire. It is increasingly clear that the only route out of this mess is a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the EU.

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  • The LibDem approach to the Northern Ireland votes shames the party. Devolution must involve different parts of the UK being able to have different laws – otherwise what is the point of it. LibDem MPs pay lip service to devolution and community decision-making but the reality is that ideologues like Layla Moran, who may never have visited Northern Ireland in her life, are only too happy to impose centralised rules from Westminster on communities in the U.K. when those rules are ones that they believe are right.

    Northern Ireland has had civil partnerships for 20 years so gay marriage is purely a matter of form rather than substance. Layla Moran’s idea that the Westminster vote is “a powerful message of acceptance to the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland” is nonsense. What would have been meaningful to the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland would have been Northern Ireland’s representatives itself making the change. As regards the “further progress” that Layla Moran refers to, what legal changes is she envisaging?

    I repeat, the LibDem approach to this is shameful. It goes against fundamental LibDem values and shows the large amount of anti-Irish sentiment and Westminster-centric attitudes which now exist within the LibDem leadership.

  • Peter Hirst 10th Jul '19 - 3:13pm

    The fundamental question is why Northern Ireland does not have its own government. I don’t know sufficient to even guess why though political commitment must play a part. A new constitution would set out clearly what is state and what national jurisdiction. What do the people of NI think of these and other developments? They must feel disempowered.

  • To answer Peter Hurst’s question, the purpose of the bill passed in the House of Commons yesterday is to delay Northern Ireland Assembly elections further. Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the solution to the failure of the Northern Ireland political parties to agree an executive that can command majority support of both the unionist and nationalist communities is new elections. The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 last year already delayed those elections and the new bill delays them further.

    Of course, LibDems like Layla Moran are quite happy to go along with this anti-democratic delaying of elections. Layla Moran had never even been to Northern Ireland until October 2018 but apparently she knows best for the people there.

    Layla Moran is an affluent background, educated exclusively at private schools and has worked as a teacher at private schools. Perhaps as a result, most of what she’s had to say about the state education system has been ill-considered in terms of both substance and electoral appeal. It’s past time for her to give up her attitude that she knows best and adopt a little humility.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jul '19 - 7:46pm

    When a young David Steel MP was taking a private members’ bill through the Commons he was advised to avoid legislating for Northern Ireland. He has since commented on the Offences against the Person Act 1861, passed at Westminster.
    The purpose of the legislation in 1967-1968 was to deal with the issue of back street abortions. The Labour Home Secretary (Roy Jenkins MP) was able to provide lots of parliamentary time. The parliamentary Labour Party was very different from today’s. They had a majority of about 100 and an ability to work late into the night and thereby overcome filibustering (on free votes).
    Paddy Ashdown replaced his Northern Ireland spokesman, a Liverpool MP who is now a peer. Paddy did the job himself for a while and the issue went fairly quiet.
    This is only one aspect of the affront to democracy represented by their failure to meet.
    Fresh elections are needed and should happen soon.

  • Well the DUP now have an incentive to resurrect power sharing, if they are that affronted by gay marriage and abortion rights. Personally I’d be happy if they failed to restart Stormont on time, but then I’ve never been a fan of appeasing bigots and their fellow travellers.

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