Author Archives: Hugo Forshaw

Hugo Forshaw is an activist with the Merton Liberal Democrats and a political adviser specialising in justice policy. He writes in a personal capacity.

Norman is right: Common Market 2.0 was the compromise the Lib Dems should have made

I have immense respect for Norman Lamb.

While some of the language he has deployed in the last day and a half has been a little strong for my liking, I sympathise completely with his frustrations.

On Monday night, four Liberal Democrat MPs joined dozens of pro-referendum MPs from other parties in voting down the Brexit option being pushed by Nick Boles, referred to as ‘Common Market 2.0’, or sometimes as ‘Norway plus’. Only two Liberal Democrats – Lamb and former leader Tim Farron – voted in favour of Common Market 2.0.

In so doing, these four Lib Dem MPs spurned the opportunity to win a majority for a Brexit outcome that is 90% of what membership of the EU is.

The Common Market 2.0 plan would maintain Britain’s membership of the single market. It would preserve the four freedoms of that market, including freedom of movement. The plan includes a customs arrangement that would avoid the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland and would allow the UK to continue to benefit from the EU’s trade deals with other countries. The only real drawback to the plan is that it would require the UK to follow single market rules and regulations without having any formal say on how those rules are made.

Common Market 2.0 is inferior to membership of the EU, but not by very much. Moreover, this plan has a chance of bringing our divided nation back together. It gives leave voters what they want, by ensuring the UK leaves the EU, while respecting those of us who voted remain and want to protect our existing rights.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 36 Comments

The Government’s Probate Stealth Tax is Unconstitutional and Must be Stopped

On Thursday 7 February the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee will consider the Government’s plans to hike the fees people have to pay to access a deceased relative’s estate.

Don’t let the title of the ‘Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order’ fool you – this proposal is anything but non-contentious. Introduced by statutory instrument, the order would see the fees charged for a grant of probate soar from the current flat figure of £215 to as much as £6,000, depending on the value of the estate.

Not only is this an unfair way to squeeze money out of grieving and vulnerable families, but these fees are also not fees at all – they are a stealth tax. The Government has already admitted that the increased charges will be used to subsidise the other parts of the court’s service they have cut funding for, rather than merely for covering the cost of providing the probate service.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments
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