Author Archives: NewsHound

Layla Moran: I almost left the Lib Dems over tuition fees

Yesterday, Layla Moran talked to Julia Hartley-Brewer about that difficult issue of tuition fees.

Referring to the Lib Dem nightmare on the subject, she said that it was horrible and that she had almost left the party over the failure of our MPs to keep the pledge not to vote for any increase in tuition fees that they had signed during the 2010 election.

Looking to the future, Layla spoke of the importance of maintenance grants for poorer students in improving social mobility.

You can listen to her whole interview on the Talk Radio website here.

She added that the system is “broken” but the idea that university should be free for everyone – and that tuition fees should be abolished, an idea propounded by Jeremy Corbyn – is unsustainable.

When asked by Julia why it is sustainable in other countries, Moran said that those countries cap the number of students who go to university, a comment which brought agreement from Julia, who said the idea that 50% of students are suitable for university education is “laughable.”

In terms of specific ways to improve the education system, Moran says we must restore maintenance grants, the means-tested funding provided to poorer students to cover living costs. She also said that we must take greater care of the 50% who don’t go to university, and offer children more information to help them choose their GCSEs.

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Cable on Davis speech: Brexit Secretary Secretary makes strong case for staying in the EU

In a speech tomorrow, Brexit Secretary David Davis will demand that the UK’s regulatory standards are accepted across the EU post-Brexit. He will ask for “mutual recognition” and “close, even-handed co-operation”.

Responding, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

David Davis might as well be making the case for staying in the EU. He appears to be acknowledging the great achievements of the Single Market – a British idea introduced by a British government – yet the Conservatives want to leave that and the Customs Union.

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No love lost on the road to Brexit

Vince’s Valentine’s Day column for Times Red Box contrasted the consistency of the Liberal Democrats on Brexit with the split Labour and Conservative parties. He said that our party was “open to refugees.”

For some MPs, I do anticipate that the myopia of the Labour and Conservative parties could drive them away from their folds. Liberal Democrats, unsurprisingly, have a liberal policy on refugees and will welcome with open arms and an open mind anyone from a different political tradition who wants to join our party. However, many aghast rebels will retain old tribal loyalties but nonetheless choose to vote with the Liberal Democrats on Brexit issues. I welcome that too.

Beyond Westminster, we need an effort in the country to mobilise public opinion on three key points: firstly, that Brexit is not inevitable; secondly, that the best and only democratic way to stop Brexit is through a vote on the final deal; and finally, that the Government’s deal will not be better than staying in the EU. It is in this respect that Liberal Democrats are critical. None of the many groupings springing up to take on the pro-European mantle have what we can bring to the table: a young, enthused membership of 100,000 troops to campaign on the ground.

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Expert health panel calls for ringfenced health and care tax to replace National Insurance

A new tax earmarked solely for the NHS and social care is among the recommendations from a panel of 10 experts in a report on healthcare funding in England commissioned by the Liberal Democrats. This heavyweight report, Health and Social Care: Delivering a Secure Funding Future, will form the blueprint of the Liberal Democrats’ ongoing healthcare policy.

The panel, which includes former chief executives of NHS England, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Patients Association, concluded that the NHS in England needs a real terms funding increase of £4bn in 2018-19 and further real terms increases of £2.5bn in …

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LibLink: Layla Moran: There are no winners from Brexit’s nuclear option

Layla Moran has been writing for the New European on the problems that exiting Euratom, the organisation founded in 1957 to create a specialist market for nuclear power in Europe.

She said:

The government has said it wants a “close association” with the Euratom Research and Training Programme and will seek open trade arrangements for nuclear goods. Both laudable ambitions – but this could all be best resolved by remaining in Euratom instead of creating uncertainty and seeking to negotiate what will certainly be a second rate option. In the meantime, the brilliant nuclear scientists from the EU, working together with their UK colleagues at places like Culham in Oxfordshire, on vital nuclear fusion research, are left in limbo. Some of these people, taking their precious skills with them, have already begun to drift away from the UK.

Then there is the issue of medical radioisotopes. As Mike Galsworthy explained in theNew European last week, these nuclear materials are used in cancer treatments and have very short half-lives, so any delays at borders would diminish the number of doses available. Those in the medical industry are deeply concerned.

What could be more pressing than making sure cancer patients still get treated? Well, it seems that, once again, keeping the fractious Tory party together through insistence on delivering a hard Brexit trumps the national interest.

The Government is keen to play this down, and accuses those who raise it as scaremongers, but the industry needs more than just assurances from the Government that a ‘close relationship’ will be achievable. Industry experts suggest it could take up to seven years to negotiate a treaty as wide-ranging as Euratom so I fail to see how we are going to get this finished in time.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: With 100 Lib Dem peers, Brexiters are coming on to our turf

Vince Cable has written for Politics Home about what the Lib Dem peers hope to achieve with the EU Withdrawal Bill:

He summarises where we are. As public opinion turns against Brexit, Labour just wants to make it more extreme:

This is why Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement this weekend that the “ship has sailed” on staying in the EU is so bizarre. At best, this shows he does not have the stomach for the fight; at worst, it reveals what many of us have long suspected given his decades of Parliamentary opposition to the EU – that he wanted out all along.

Either way,

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Lib Dems “most sweary peers in House of Lords”

Something to amuse you on a dark January evening from iNews:

Our Lib Dem Lords make six out of the top ten profane peers

Six of the top 10 “sweary peers” are Lib Dems, with Baroness Sarah Ludford leading the pack with 51 profanities in 2017. It’s a pretty admirable feat given that peers only managed to score 287 swears between them across the whole year.

They have been joking about it on Twitter:

The Leader of the our Lords group was perhaps upset that he didn’t make the list:

Sarah Ludford was modest:

Liz Barker is such a diplomat:

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Vince talks about his attitude to money

Vince has been talking to occasional LDV contributor York Membery for the Sunday Times. The interview focused on personal finances.

He says he is definitely better off than his parents:

Undoubtedly, although they were pretty comfortable by the end of their working lives. My parents, Len and Edith, were factory workers and left school at 15, like most people of their generation. But my father was strong on self-improvement. He became a lecturer at a technical college and through a combination of hard work and savings we progressed from a terraced house with an outside loo to a detached house.

This is not something that younger generations can expect.

His first job was in Kenya:

Working as a finance officer for the Kenyan treasury. I was there for two years from 1966 and was paid as a Kenyan civil servant, so my salary was quite modest. It was a fantastic job and I got married while I was out there but never planned to stay. My eldest son now runs a social enterprise that is doing some great work starting up schools in Kenya, so we’ve maintained the family connection with the country.

Vince says he’s a spender rather than a saver:

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Paddy: Trump’s tweets could trigger war

Paddy Ashdown has been speaking to PoliticsHome about the development of UK foreign policy in the age of Trump and how the US President’s unpredictable actions have an unsettling impact on the world.

“It does not mean that the Atlantic axis is going to be less important, but it ceases to be our primary axis on which to base our defence and probably our foreign policy as well.”

“That relationship must be much more mature, where both sides realise that there will be times when their interests in the world diverge,” he explains, citing US policy on Iran and Israel as two examples.

Beyond these ‘differing interests’ Ashdown presses the Government to  distance itself from the “irrational” Trump approach on “tinder pile” issues like North Korea.

He says the Trump tactic – of mocking and baiting Kim Jong Un on Twitter, alongside battle-cry threats of “fire and fury” – simply creates a space for North Korea to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, as shown by its offer of talks and participation in the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea.

“We are used to a US president who is careful, thoughtful, intelligent and well informed, and we don’t have that now at the moment at all,” Ashdown laments.

“I can see five piles of tinder around the world, any one of which through inadvertence, stupidity or just blundering could be set alight… any one of which could have the capacity to ignite a much wider conflagration. And you want somebody blundering around the world, firing off tweets? In these very difficult circumstances I don’t think that’s the way to make a safer world. In a world as fragile, turbulent and close to war on several fronts as ours, I don’t think that’s a balanced and wise strategy.”

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Inquiry needed into questionable decisions around Carillion – Cable

Responding to reports that Carillion is to go into liquidation, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

In the light of today’s announcement that Carillion plc has gone into liquidation, Vince Cable has called for urgent action;

The government must now take responsibility for the big contracts run by Carillion, or re-tender them, to keep the supply chain going and protect thousands of jobs. Ministers must minimise the damage to the capacity of the construction industry.

We also urgently need a parliamentary inquiry into some of the very questionable decisions made in the past few months, not least the award of

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Vince, Christine, Jo and Layla marked out as politicians to watch in 2018

Over at HITC, Richard Wood has produced a list of politicians to watch this year.

Vince Cable, Layla Moran and Christine Jardine get mentions:

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has failed to make much of an impact this year. But with the Brexit drum beating louder than ever before, and the UK just one year away from exiting the EU, Brexit anxiety will likely increase, thus resulting in Cable rising to prominence. Cable and his party will likely capitalise on remain sentiment, but can he expand on that and turn the Liberal Democrats into more than just the anti-Brexit party?

Keep an …

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LISTEN: Willie Rennie: My mission this year is to stop Brexit

Listen to Willie Rennie’s start of year interview with BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland.

He said that public opinion was shifting in favour of a referendum on the final deal.

The Liberal Democrats’ fortunes were improving too, with more MPs, more members and running more councils.

We have constantly raised concerns about the running of Police Scotland and the way the Scottish Police Authority works and he said it was time for a root and branch review of the Authority after it invited the under-investigation chief constable to return to work before the conclusion of the enquiry into his conduct.

Listen to the whole thing here.

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LibLink: Robin Teverson: We should clean up our own mess, not export it to China

Lib Dem Peer Robin Teverson has written for Politics Home about the effect of China’s ban on the importation of low grade waste should be a wake up call for us to sort out how we deal with this problem.

China’s import ban, at a stroke, destroys the business model of the UK waste industry, together with its supply chain. The knock-on effects are huge, impacting local authorities and business.

But the UK has been slow to react. Defra is working overtime on Brexit agricultural and fisheries reform, producing a two-years late 25-year environmental plan, getting thousands of EU environmental laws onto the post-Brexit UK statute book. Michael Gove, no less, admitted to the Environmental Audit Committee that he had been taken unawares.

Lack of progress in waste policy, especially in England, has been a contentious issue for some time, not least with a frustrated waste industry. Scotland and Wales have been more ambitious in finding solutions for the future. That lack of focus, in England especially, is no longer an option.

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LibLink: Vince Cable What can be done to help street sleepers?

Some people were concerned that when Vince became leader, the high priority given to housing and homelessness during Tim Farron’s tenure in the top job might be lost.

Tim famously got involved in politics after watching Cathy Come Home.

However, those concerns were allayed at Christmas when helping homeless people was the focus of his Christmas Message and he has written further about those experiences in his regular column for his local paper, the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

He wrote about the various circumstances that had forced people he had met to sleep on the streets.

One man I talked to, who had lived for ten years under the arches of Waterloo Bridge, had never recovered from violence he experienced at home as a child from an alcoholic mother; he survives by selling “The Big Issue”.

But others have been forced onto the streets by the vagaries of unstable employment, expensive rents and inadequate or unavailable benefits.

I met a young man sleeping out in Covent Garden who was a chef, looking for work, who couldn’t afford the rent until his next job. Another had fallen through the cracks of Universal Credit, forced out of his home by lack of cash for the landlord.

He highlighted the aspects of welfare reform which caused so many problems.

So what can be done?

We need more emergency hostels – currently facing funding cuts which will hit provision by the Salvation Army and the YMCA.

There has to be a rethink of some of the brutal welfare cuts. The warm words about building affordable housing have to be supported by government action.

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Former Conservative Camden Council Deputy Leader joins Liberal Democrats

Welcome, Andrew Marshall.

Andrew, who is still a Councillor in Camden but who resigned from the Tories last year, explained his reasons to the Ham and High

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Vince reflects on 2017, looks forward to an exit from Brexit and expresses Strictly anger.

This time last year, Vince Cable was looking forward to potentially winning the bad sex award for his novel Open Arms. He certainly wouldn’t have thought that by the end of 2017, he’d not only be re-elected as MP for Twickenham but would be leading the Liberal Democrats.

That his failure to pick up the said bad sex award was his low point of the year shows how spectacular 2017 has been for him.

He talked to Politico about his hopes for 2018. It’s simple, really.

To secure referendum on stopping Brexit. And winning it.

His lesson learned in 2017, “never to give up,” may help him to that goal.

His high point of 2017 wasn’t winning back his seat or the leadership, but something much closer to his heart.

My younger son happily married.

He was asked about his favourite tv show or movie from the year and he didn’t shy away from the controversy over the treatment of Alexandra Burke during Strictly.

Strictly Come Dancing.” Dancing addict. But got very cross over final.

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Police facing £125m real-terms cut

The party has criticised the government after it emerged the Home Office police grant for 2018-19 will remain exactly the same as this year, meaning police forces will see the equivalent of a £125m real-terms cut once inflation is taken into account.

The Home Office Police Core Settlement announced today for 2018/19 is £4,054,533,651 (link, p.3), which is exactly the same as in 2017/18 (link, p.6).

If funding had kept pace with annual inflation of 3.1%, it would have been increased by £125.7m (Office for National …

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Former Tory London Deputy chairman explains why he’s joined Lib Dems to fight Brexit

Last week, Vince Cable welcomed Kishan Devani, former Tory Deputy Chairman of the London Conservative Party, to the Liberal Democrats. Mr Devani stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in 2015 and in the London Assembly elections in 2016.

Brexit was a key motivator for Mr Devani’s decision as he explains in an article for Asian Lite International.

This lurch to the right began to be visible to me during the EU Referendum campaign. Having been instrumental in setting up ‘British Indians for In’ with the now Housing Minister Alok Sharma MP, I travelled up and down the country talking to the British Indian Community about the benefits of remaining in the EU. Currently the only political leader and party outlining the inconcistences in the Brexit argument are the Liberal Democrats & Sir Vince Cable – everyone else seems to have vanished & with them their ‘remain’ arguments too.

But not the only one…

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LibLink: Norman Lamb on the Government’s Industrial Strategy

Following the Government’s publication of its industrial strategy, Norman Lamb, who chairs the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, has let his feelings be known.

In a balanced and thoughtful piece, Norman places the proposals within the context of risks due to Brexit, and a potential funding gap whilst the economy recovers. He also notes that the investment has to be spread around the co7ntry more evenly;

We also need to make sure that this investment is dispersed around the country, promoting excellence in research in lower-income regions. Research in science and

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Clegg criticises May on Brexit, talks about defeat and the Westminster culture that enables bullying and harassment

Nick Clegg gets loads of column inches this weekend.

He has a long interview with Camilla Cavendish in today’s Sunday Times magazine (£). They discuss Brexit, Parliament, sexual harassment and his son’s Blood Cancer.

He describes the serendipitous series of events that meant that he took Antonio to the GP:

To this day, I don’t know what possessed me to take him to the GP. It was those early days in September, you know, when you have to get kids ready for school. Miriam had to work very heavily that week, so I was at home most of the time, helping to do the preparatory things, buying clothes for the new term — and Antonio said he had this thing. We had an afternoon, so I thought, ‘Why don’t I just take him, and he’ll stop going on about it.’ ”

This was quite out of character, he says. “Normally, I’m quite brutal. My Dutch mum regarded going to doctors and hospitals as something one should avoid at all costs.

Thankfully, Antonio is now well on the mend.

Nick spoke about what he’s up to now he’s out of Parliament. He’s taken up drumming and tried (unsuccessfully) to learn to surf.

The interview was conducted just around the time that sexual harassment hit the headlines. Nick slammed the culture at Westminster which created the environment for this abuse:

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Which new Lib Dem MP has “made biggest mark”

The iNews has been looking at some of the 2017 intake of MPs and have identified those who – for good reasons and not so good – have come to prominence.

One of ours gets a well-deserved mention:

Liberal Democrat high command expects great things of Layla Moran, rewarding her for capturing Oxford West and Abingdon by appointing her education spokeswoman. The former teacher and assured TV performer, is already being talked about as a future leader.

Here she is leading a debate on period poverty this week in Westminster.

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So what was Vince Cable doing in Sheffield Hallam?

Twitter was awash with rumours the other night that Jared O’Mara, the MP with the racist, misogynyist and homophobic internet past, was close to resigning.

That would create a by-election in the Sheffield Hallam seat where he beat Nick Clegg in June.

In what we are sure is an entirely unrelated development, Vince Cable went to Sheffield yesterday to campaign with the new Sheffield Hallam candidate, Laura Gordon.

Spot our Joe Otten in the background there.

Vince heard all about the trees that the Labour council is going to such desperate measures to destroy.

Laura tells us why she’s standing in this video:

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Carmichael: Conservative ministers wrong to attend DUP Conference

Alistair Carmichael has criticised the appearance of two senior Conservative Ministers at the DUP’s annual Conference. The Conservatives are beholden to the DUP for a majority and in June agreed a deal with them which cost us £1 billion. The greater cost, though, is the damage to the sensitive political relationships in Northern Ireland.

Was is really necessary or wise for Damien Green to go for a dinner and Tory Chief Whip to be welcomed to the stage with such obvious pride by the DUP?

Alistair Carmichael says that it wasn’t?

The peace process is still fragile and has survived because British politicians have been prepared to rise above the usual partisan politics.

It is difficult to see how anyone in Northern Ireland and Ireland will see Conservative ministers as being anything other than part of the problem now. It was a mistake for them to go.

Ireland has been much in the headlines this weekend. Tom Brake had this to say on the comments by Ireland’s EU Commissioner that it is a “very simple fact” that “if the UK or Northern Ireland remained in the EU Customs Union, or better still the Single Market, there would be no border issue”.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: MPs deserve a vote on the final Brexit plan not a vague sketch

Nick Clegg’s latest iNews column casts a depressing eye over the debate over the EU Withdrawal Bill this week.

First of all, he looks at the ridiculous date of exit issue:

Putting the Brexit date – March 29th 2019 – into legislation is a particularly specious gesture. It may act as catnip to the increasingly agitated Brexiteers, but to our European partners the sight of the British government shutting down the possibility of extending the Brexit talks must look absurd. As they know, and as I do from my time working in the EU, deadlines can be, and are, frequently missed. And the suggestion from the Government that if MPs have the temerity to reject the Brexit deal they will be responsible for the chaos of no deal is as thuggish as it is misleading – if MPs were to reject a bad deal, the EU would pause the Article 50 timetable rather than push us over the edge of the Brexit cliff.

The whole idea of a meaningful vote on a deal is also ridiculous as we won’t have a deal about our future relationship with the EU before we formally leave. As Nick puts it:

So there is now a high likelihood that MPs will be asked to give their consent to Britain’s departure from the EU before knowing the detail of our future relationship with the EU. It will be like buying a house on the basis of a few grainy photos from a dodgy estate agent who won’t allow you to visit the inside. ‘Members of Parliament must hold firm and reject the government’s tactics’ On a recent trip to Brussels, it was made quite clear to me that the two negotiating teams are aiming for no more than a “heads of agreement” deal by the time Britain reaches its Article 50 deadline. This means that David Davis will return with little more than an outline of detail-free pledges on areas like security and combating terrorism, and a vague promise to strike a Canada-style free trade agreement

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London could be the green finance capital of the world

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has been writing about his green vision for finance, with London at the centre.

This is a welcome this initiative. The more we can green all aspects of our policy, the better. We have a good record from setting up the Green Investment Bank in coalition, and funding renewables. Vince begins,

The prospect of Brexit threatens to cause serious damage to the UK’s financial services industry.

Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and even Luxembourg are circling like hungry jackals waiting to pick off the weakest members of the herd.

London

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LISTEN: to Layla Moran on Any Questions: We have a foreign secretary who is not fit for purpose

Layla Moran took a trip to Kent on Friday night to appear on the Any Questions panel.

She had invited local party members to help her practice earlier in the week.

She answered questions on Michel Barnier’s deadline, whether Boris should be sacked (even asking the question had the audience cheering and Layla’s answer was “yes, yes, yes”), the case of the young boy whose image is on a police database after he was reported for sexting and the idea of safe spaces

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Vince: Exit from Brexit very much on the cards

Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50, has said many times that it is revocable. We could get out of Brexit if we wanted. People are resigned to it because they don’t know that we could get out of it. So spread the news far and wide whenever you see it.

He’s reportedly making a speech tomorrow in which he emphasises that point. Vince Cable had this to say:

The author of article 50 revealing that the process can be revoked is a significant development.

There is no longer any refuge for brexiteers who argue that this whole process can’t be revoked.

The possibility of an

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LibLink: Sir Ed Davey: Chancellor must properly fund community policing

Ed Davey has written for Politics Home about the need for proper funding of community policing.

He outlined what has been happening in recent years:

We are seeing the police disappearing off our streets, clearing the way for criminals. After years of falling crime rates the latest statistics show a 13% increase recorded crime across England and Wales, and even steeper increases for violent offences including knife crime. That is why I am leading a debate in Parliament on the issue of police funding ahead of the Budget.

It also leads to the Met Police saying they aren’t going to investigate so-called “low …

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Christine Jardine: Politicians must live up to their honourable titles

Here’s Christine Jardine MP talking on Politics Scotland about the need for all parties to take action to protect staff and volunteers from harassment.

An independent body is all very well, she says, but political parties can’t abrogate responsibility and say it’s nothing to do with them.

Then in Friday’s Scotmsn she said that the current harassment scandal might be the “lightning rod” for “cultural change”

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Finally the Brexit spell is beginning to lift: MPs are beginning to stand against it

In Nick Clegg’s latest iNews column, he says that MPs are finally starting to flex some muscle in the Brexit process. He is as bold as to say that he believes Parliament will actually save the country from its fate. Nick’s article is important because it gives those who think that our fate is inevitable a clear route map to a better future.

He says that if Parliament votes down the deal, the two year Brexit clock will stop ticking:

Next October, Brexit Secretary David Davis will present the Government’s threadbare Brexit deal to the House of Commons for approval. This is the key vote, the key moment, which will determine Britain’s future. Vote down the deal, and headlong rush towards Brexit will come to a shuddering halt. The clock counting down the minutes to Britain’s departure from the EU will stop ticking. ‘Senior officials in Brussels last week expressed their certainty that Britain can still find a place for itself within the EU’

The government, with increasing panic, insists otherwise, and will continue to repeat its threat that by rejecting a deal MPs will be voting for Britain to crash out of Europe without a deal. This is total nonsense. For a start, Britain will legally remain part of the EU.

However, should MPs, on behalf of their constituents, decide not to go ahead with Brexit then the Article 50 process will inevitably be paused. Our friends and partners across Europe won’t shrug their shoulders and simply carry on with the process. Instead the EU will reach for the pause button. This was made clear to me by senior officials in Brussels last week, who not only expressed their growing bewilderment with the government’s approach to the Brexit talks but also their certainty that Britain can find a place for itself within the EU should it choose a different path.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCassie 18th Jun - 10:32am
    Key point being that even if there is some amazing Brexit benefit for the NHS, it will be for England only. Either they think Welsh...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 18th Jun - 10:20am
    @Cassie "David Raw… And the relevance/usefulness of your remark to 2018, to Brexit, to TM cynically linking extra NHS cash for England (only) with Brexit…...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 18th Jun - 10:13am
    @Peter Martin "Dianne Abbot was widely criticised for attempting a similar back-of-envelope type calculation as yourself when she mentioned recruiting 1000 police officers who were...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 18th Jun - 9:49am
    Thank you David. I wasn't trying to undermine you. I don't treat comments exchanges as a sort of game. I have plenty of other things...
  • User AvatarLyn N 18th Jun - 9:32am
    @Cassie Quite. The Lib Dem’s as a minor partner in a coalition are only ever going to be able to soften the actions of larger...
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Jun - 9:30am
    Military spending is not just about defence. It's about selling arms and expertise. It can kill people, which I'm pretty certain is not a public...