Author Archives: The Voice

Lib Dem policy is to withdraw Article 50 if we can’t get an extension for referendum or extra negotiations

This seems to be a good moment to remind you all of the motion passed at Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton. Essentially, if we can’t get an extension for a People’s Vote, or for extra negotiating time to avoid a no deal, we think that Article 50 should be withdrawn. And the ruling from the European Court of Justice yesterday proves that it can be done.

Read, learn and inwardly digest this paragraph:

(Conference calls for)The Government to seek to extend Article 50 if required to legislate for a referendum on the deal, or to provide enough negotiating time to avoid a catastrophic no-deal scenario, and if such extension is not agreed to withdraw the Article 50 notification.

Here’s the motion in full:

Conference notes that:

A.The Conservative Government are making a mess of Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party are helping them to deliver this destructive Brexit.

B.Liberal Democrats campaigned to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum and have since campaigned for the people to have the final say on the Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the EU.

C.The Treasury have stated that a no-deal Brexit could require the UK to borrow œ80 billion more by 2033, the Conservative Government have begun releasing the 84 no-deal technical notes, and the UK health sector are stockpiling medicines in case of a no-deal.

D.The Chequers plan is unworkable, rejected by both the EU and Conservative European Research Group MPs.

E.A conclusive agreement has not yet been reached on many of the issues arising from the Brexit referendum, including Government red lines, and both sides have stated that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

F.Whilst the principle of a Northern Ireland backstop has been agreed, the UK’s plan to temporarily avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland has not been agreed and there is still no agreement on a long-term solution.

G.During the transition period, which is due to end in 2020, the UK will remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.

H.The draft Withdrawal Agreement stipulated that EU citizens will have to apply for pre-settled or settled status and if they fail to do so will be at risk of deportation; Irish citizens do not have to apply but can if they choose to.

I.EU citizens, who are not Irish or Commonwealth citizens, living in the UK are excluded from voting in UK General Elections or referendums and voting rights have been left outside the scope of Brexit negotiations by the EU Commission.

J.The 2016 EU referendum gave no clear destination for Brexit, as the terms of the deal were not yet known.

Conference believes that:

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Don’t forget: Early bird rates for Spring Conference end one week from today

The York Conference will be one of the most historic in our 30 year history, taking place just 2 weeks before we are scheduled to leave the EU.

A lot could happen between now and then, up to and including a General Election or a People’s Vote on the deal.

Whatever happens it is an important opportunity for us to get together and work out what our next steps are.

It is also where the leader’s plans to extend the franchise for leadership elections to a new supporter class will be debated. There are many strong views on both sides of this but one thing that unites us is surely the desire to debate them as cheaply as possible.

So make sure you register by next Friday.

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Roger Roberts: Are we to be known as the Canutes of History?

Here is Roger Roberts’ speech to the House of Lords on the Brexit deal. His theme was what sort of life are we setting up for future generations?

Leave and Brexit are about   my seven grandchildren, all your Lordships’ grandchildren and all the children in our country. Will it be better for them to have fewer benefits than we have had, or should we think first of them when we vote on this deal?

Just after the Second World War, the community of Llangollen in north Wales established the international musical festival, which has brought people from many countries together. It still goes on; I spoke only this morning to its press office. This past year it brought applications from 3,919 competitors from 64 locations; it brought together people who had been at enmity ​with one another. As people who have been fighting each other, we suddenly find ourselves in a situation where we either stretch out to one another in friendship or say we want to carry on building a wall.

When the first eisteddfod was held, one choir hitchhiked from Hungary to reach Llangollen—I find it difficult to think of a choir hitchhiking. The following time, a German choir from Lübeck came over to Llangollen. Members of the choir were not sure what sort of reception they would get because we had been at war. They were going to sing to those who had been their enemies and they were very uncertain. But the compère at the eisteddfod on that day was Hywel Roberts, who greeted them by saying, “We are now going to hear from our German friends”. It has taken a long time to build this: to build relationships and get over the enmity of the past. But it has been done, in many different ways. Will we continue with these feelings of friendship? Will we continue building bridges and not walls?

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Layla, Christine and Ed honoured by the Patchwork Foundation

Every year, the Patchwork Foundation holds its MPs of the Year awards ceremony.

The Patchwork Foundation believes in promoting and highlighting best practice. Each year MPs across the country work closely with diverse communities, with many MPs delivering excellent representation and coverage to otherwise underrepresented segments of society. The Patchwork Foundation rewards those winning MPs – nominated by members of the public or grassroots community organisations and selected by an independent panel of judges – by acknowledging them as the MPs of the Year.

Three Lib Dems, Layla Moran, Christine Jardine and Ed Davey, received awards.

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Urgent action needed on prisons’ crisis

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons’ report on HMP Birmingham has just been released. The inspection report found that violence and drug-taking were rife at HMP Birmingham, with many staff working in fear and unable to maintain control.

Responding to this, Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called for urgent action to reduce overcrowding in prisons and recruit more prison officers.

Ministers need to get a grip on the crisis in our prisons. The violence and chaos isn’t confined to HMP Birmingham – we keep hearing similar reports from across the country.

Prisons are stuffed full of people on short-term sentences, which cost millions and don’t work to prevent crime. Overwhelmed staff are simply unable to cope, leading to riots, widespread drug use and violence against staff.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must urgently recruit more prison officers and bring forward legislation to end pointless short-term sentences and reduce overcrowding.

Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, to cut re-offending and make our communities safer.

In August, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons issued an “urgent notification” letter alerting the Government to the appalling conditions in HMP Birmingham. He has also issued urgent notifications this year in respect of three other prisons: Nottingham, Exeter and Bedford.

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Lib Dem Press Release: Lib Dem peers defeat Government on civil liberties

Liberal Democrat peers have defeated the Government on a key vote on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

Amendment 15, tabled jointly by Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesperson Brian Paddick and two Labour peers, creates exemptions to the new offence of “entering or remaining in a designated area” so that it doesn’t apply to aid workers, journalists, people visiting ill relatives or those attending funerals.

The amendment passed by 220 votes to 191.

Liberal Democrat peers also voted for another amendment, tabled jointly by Lord Paddick and Baroness Jones, to limit the Bill’s impact on freedom of speech. However, Labour abstained and Tory peers voted against the amendment, so it failed by 93 votes to 198.

Liberal Democrat MPs had previously voted against the Bill in the House of Commons, joined only by Caroline Lucas, but Labour voted with the Tories to pass it 376–10.

Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs, said:

Through our opposition to these unnecessary, illiberal new laws, we have secured important changes that will reduce the risk of innocent people being wrongly convicted.

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WATCH Jo Swinson talk about her Tech Commission

Here’s Jo Swinson talking about the first meeting of the Lib Dem Tech Commission which she hosted on Friday:

Here’s what she said in her article for this site:

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WATCH: Vince Cable’s message of solidarity with the Jewish community on Hanukkah

Here’s Vince’s message for Hanukkah:

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Vince Cable’s message for World AIDS Day

Here is Vince Cable’s message for World AIDS Day.

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A masterclass for young people interested in politics

This caught our eye on Twitter. It looks like a fabulous opportunity for young people who are interested in politics to learn about political leadership skills.

There’s more information on the Patchwork website.

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Norman Lamb explains why he is voting against the Brexit deal

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb has explained why he will be voting against the Brexit deal on his Facebook page.

He abstained on the vote to trigger Article 50 after promising his heavily Leave voting constituency that he would not block it.

He can’t vote for the withdrawal agreement, though, because it means further uncertainty.

I was determined to take time to consider Theresa May’s Brexit deal, rather than rushing to a judgement. We all have a responsibility to make the best judgement in the national interest.

Frustratingly, I do not think this deal resolves anything. We face years of further turmoil with fraught argument over our future relationship. Today I questioned the PM on immigration and on the impact on science. Nothing is resolved. Everything is up in the air. Uncertainty for the science community will be really damaging.

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Let’s cheer on Layla on Question Time tonight

Question Time will actually be worth watching tonight as our Layla Moran makes her debut on the show.

She will be on the panel in Penzance with Conservative MP Nadim Zahawi, Labour’s Rebecca Long Bailey, Professor Benjamin Zephaniah and Tim Martin, the founder of Wetherspoons, a chain few self-respecting remainers will be seen in these days.

We know Layla is brilliant at these things because she has always rocked on Any Questions with openness, honesty and strong arguments.

Lib Dems have been rarer than hen’s teeth on these big programmes – absent from …

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Lib Dem Press: Brexit deal leaves police in the dark

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has been speaking out about how Theresa May’s Brexit deal would end police access to vital EU-wide crime databases.

The Brexit withdrawal agreement states that the UK will lose access to both the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) at the end of the transition period. The Government’s ‘Assessment of the security partnership’ is available here

The Government’s ‘Assessment of the security partnership’, published today, admits that no agreement has been reached to enable UK police to continue to use the databases after that point. The paper states: “The exact nature of future cooperation on this type of data sharing will be determined by the formal negotiations on the legal text.”

The UK checked SIS II 539,382,244 times in 2017, or 1.5 million times a day.

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Layla: If you’re bored of Brexit, this deal won’t help. We’ll be talking about it for 10 years if it goes through

Layla Moran represented the party in a debate on the Brexit Deal on last night’s Newsnight.

Here’s her pitch:

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Ian Kearns: Why Liberal values are the answer this country needs

Ian Kearns joined the Liberal Democrats from Labour in the Summer. He gave a barnstorming speech to the rally at Federal Conference in Brighton. 

This Autumn, he has spoken at both the Yorkshire and London Regional Conferences. The speech below was the keynote speech at the Yorkshire and the Humber conference three weeks ago and Ian delivered a version of it at a fringe event at the London conference yesterday. 

The most powerful section of his speech is on what we stand for:

I’m here today because this is the party that is ready to fight the politics of division and hate, and I intend to be part of that fight.

I’m here because I know we won’t beat the extremists of left and right by mimicking their message or by defending the status quo, but only by radically extending the liberal commitment to equality of opportunity to the millions of people in our country currently denied it.

I’m here because I won’t stand idly by and watch the disaster of Brexit unfold.

We know the Leave campaign lied to the country; we know they’ve failed to deliver; and now the people must have a vote on the truth!

I’m here because our forebears didn’t see off the fascists in the last century so we could sit back and watch fascism rise again in this.

I’m here to fight for a patriotism that celebrates the divides we bridge and our achievements as a people, not for one that drives a wedge between one community or nation and another.

And I’m here because I want to look my children in the eye and know they have a good chance of a life of happiness and fulfilment in a country at peace with itself.

A country where they will be judged not by the colour of their skin, their race, religion, gender or sexuality but by the content of their character.

A country of free men and women where we all have equal rights and equal opportunities because if these rights and opportunities are denied to anyone, then none of us are truly free and our country is not truly free.

A country where politics is conducted in a civil manner, because between anarchy on the one hand, and the settlement of our political differences through violence on the other, liberal democratic politics is all there is; and the only ones who benefit from cynicism about politics are those with a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo.

I’m here too because I want my children to grow up in a country that doesn’t fear the outside world, but equips its people to go out into it, experience it in all its wonder, and work with others to shape it to humanity’s common cause.

A country where we take power out of the hands of bureaucrats in Whitehall, and put it into the hands of the people, who know what their challenges are and have good ideas on how to meet them.

A country that doesn’t fear new technology but becomes a world leading centre for the productive and ethical use of it.

And a country that was once the birthplace of the industrial revolution, seized by the climate emergency and geared up both economically and diplomatically to meet it with a new age of green revolution.

It’s powerful and inspiring stuff. Here’s the speech in full.

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Vince: Brexit deal is a disaster for the British people

The Brexit Deal is a disaster and the people should be given the chance to vote on it says Vince Cable.

Speaking as EU leaders endorsed it, Vince said:

This is a sad day for everyone involved; the deal the EU have endorsed remains a disaster for the British people.

What has been agreed is vague at best and is essentially an agreement to have an agreement. There is still no majority in Parliament for it, and “No Brexit” remains the only real alternative.

Nobody voted to make themselves poorer and damage the UK’s standing in the world. It is time the Prime Minister granted a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

At the London Regional Conference yesterday, he said t was important to get “no deal” off the table as we campaign for “no Brexit.”

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Lib Dem Emma Walker tells Sky News about #Askhertostand event in Parliament

This Wednesday marked 100 years since the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 2018 which made it possible for women over the age of 21 to stand for Parliament.

A century on, women make up only just over 200 of 650 MPs. That’s why MPs were asked to invite a woman from their constituency to an Ask her to stand event to mark the anniversary.

Christine Jardine asked Emma Walker who, just over a year ago, wasn’t even a member of the Party. She’s made a massive impact in Scotland this year, getting involved in campaigning and member recruitment – and she opened the Autumn Conference in September.

Emma talked to Sky News about what had motivated her to get involved:

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Lib Dem Press: Tories must not neglect young people with mental illness

Responding to an official report published today revealing one in eight children and young people aged between 5 and 19 surveyed in England in 2017 had a mental disorder, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

“These troubling figures reveal the true extent of mental health problems among children. The Conservative Government has a stark choice: either invest in services and give our children the best possible chance in life, or be responsible for the neglect of an entire generation of young people.

“Mental illness can blight the lives and futures of children without the right interventions, but today’s report by the Children’s Commissioner is a brutal reminder of how vulnerable young people too often hit a brick wall when trying to access support.

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Levels of homelessness a national disgrace

There is a new report out by Shelter, ‘Homelessness in Great Britain: the numbers behind the story’, which shows that homelessness is increasing across the country, with one in 52 people in London now homeless.

Large increases in homelessness have also affected areas such as the West Midlands and the north-west of the country.  While it is difficult to know true numbers, the estimated total of those homeless across Great Britain is believed to be 320,000.

Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse says,

It is an absolute disgrace that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people have been left without a roof over their head. The Conservative Government’s failure to look after these people is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Conservative Ministers need to recognise the urgent need to build more social homes. We have been calling for 50,000 social houses to be built every year, rising to 100,000 as soon as possible. The Government also need to ensure that housing benefits are sufficient for covering rent and bring the thousands of vacant properties across the country into use.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has been working on documenting the deaths of people experiencing street homelessness.  Their research has identified 400 people who died in the last year  while rough sleeping In England and Wales.

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Siobhan Benita is the Lib Dem London Mayoral candidate

Siobhan Benita has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor. The election takes place in 2020 so she will be able to build on the high profile she built in 2012 when she ran as an Independent. Then, she ran a really impressive campaign and came within 8000 votes of our Brian Paddick.

Here’s her campaign video where she talks about what she wants to achieve in London:

Siobhan beat Lucy Salek, Dinesh Dhamija and Rob Blackie. It was really good to see on social media that they all had dinner together last night.

As a former senior civil servant, she has experience of making stuff work,in transport and the environment particularly so she has already proved her competence in two massive issues of concern to many Londoners.

She said:

I am delighted to have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London.

I will show the Lib Dems can offer a fresh alternative to London’s tired two party politics.

Sadiq Khan isn’t delivering the right solutions to violent crime and only the Liberal Democrats can provide a genuinely public health approach.

The Tories have shown how out of touch they are with London’s values by selecting an illiberal, pro-Brexit candidate.

Only the Lib Dems have truly stood up for Londoners against Brexit and we will continue to be a strong, liberal voice for our city.

Vince welcomed the news:

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Scottish Lib Dems campaign for People’s Vote

Brexitometers were out in force across Scotland today as Lib Dem activists took to the streets to campaign for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal. The big thing that we have to do over the next wee while is assure people that Brexit can be stopped. Vince Cable has said that a People’s Vote is now probable rather than just possible.

Here’s some of the highlights of the campaigning activity:

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How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Rally tonight, Parliament Square, to demand a Final Say

An email has just gone around announcing a rally tonight in London from 6 pm to demand a Final Say on the proposed Brexit deal. More info here.

There have also been a flurry of press briefings and reactions to May’s proposals going out, here are some highlights.

Brexit chaos hitting UK businesses hard

Responding to reports that UK- focused firms have been hit hard by the PM’s proposed Brexit deal, with RBS, Lloyds, Barclays, Marks and Spencer, Barratt, Berkeley and EasyJet all seeing falls in their share prices, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Ministerial resignations and Brexit chaos are hitting UK-based businesses hard. But the short-term damage caused by a rudderless Government will be nothing compared to the permanent harm the PM’s bad deal or catastrophic No Deal would inflict on UK Plc. That is why we need a People’s Vote to get us out of this mess and secure an exit from Brexit.

PM’s incompetence leaves UK unprepared for all options

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has today criticised Theresa May for failing to prepare for no Brexit, despite admitting it was an option.

Speaking in response to the Prime Minister’s Brexit statement in the House of Commons today, Vince Cable said:

The Prime Minister rightly asserts that there are two alternatives to her plan, no deal and no Brexit. The Government is investing considerably in contingency planning for no deal. What contingency planning is she doing for no Brexit? Including, for example, advising the Commission that Article 50 may have to be withdrawn? And is she herself preparing for the fact, however much she hates it, that the House may instruct her to carry out a People’s Vote?

In response, the Prime Minister confirmed the Conservative Government was making no plans for no Brexit.

Following the exchange, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 

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Press Release: Brexit Deal

No deal was ever going to better than the deal we have as EU members and this is a very bad deal for the United Kingdom.  We are left rule takers not rule makers.

The Liberal Democrats won’t stand idly by and watch a Tory Brexit destroy our businesses, service sector, and our economy. Far from creating a ‘Global Britain’, this deal will leave the UK as an insignificant vassal state, tied loosely to Europe but with no influence, and shunned by the rest of the world.

Rather than wasting time, money and effort on delivering a Brexit deal which no one, whether they …

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WATCH: Vince Cable tell Europe’s Liberals that Brexit can be reversed

Here’s Vince Cable’s speech to the ALDE Congress in Madrid.

The text follows:

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Press Release – 7th November 2018

Pharma leaders call for urgent action to protect medicine supply

A group including representatives of major pharmaceutical companies have written a joint letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to state that if urgent action is not taken the UK will not have a medicine supply that will suffice in a no deal Brexit.

A letter has been sent to the Health Secretary from organisations including the ABPI, the Brexit Health Alliance, and the ABHI urging the Government to raise the warning level to ‘red’ in regards widespread shortages of medicines and device supply in no deal Brexit.

In the joint …

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Press Release for 7th November

Tory Minister slammed for accusing police of exaggerating pressures

A lot of Tories seem to have taken an approach that when their backs are against the wall say what you need to get away and deal with the consequence later. This is just another example.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has today slammed Policing Minister Nick Hurd for accusing police chiefs of routinely exaggerating the pressures they face.

Speaking in Parliament today, Ed Davey warned “Police chiefs say the pension deficit, if it’s filled, could cost up to 10,000 police officers.” He asked the Minister “Does he agree with them?”

Responding to Ed Davey, the Minister said: “No I don’t. I think the number is exaggerated, which is not unusual for the police.”

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Police chiefs are warning of huge further cuts to police numbers, and the Conservatives’ response is simply to accuse them of exaggerating. It’s deeply alarming.

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Vince: The Commonwealth wants us to stay in the EU

Last month Vince gave a lecture to the Institute of Commonwealth Studies on the subject of Brexit and how it would affect the Commonwealth.

You know how you get Tory Brexiteers looking to the Commonwealth as a whole new opportunity for us? Well, the commonwealth leaders themselves would prefer we stayed in. Vince pointed out:

The first thing that struck me as I started looking through some of the comments on BREXIT and the Commonwealth was the enormous contrast between the tone of the comments coming from the UK, and particularly from the advocates of BREXIT, and those coming from the Commonwealth governments themselves. I think Patricia Scotland summarised the debate on this subject by saying that most of the Commonwealth leaders were hoping that Britain would stay in. It was very clear, that statement. I suspect she understated the argument but there was a very clear preference that most Commonwealth countries have more influence as a result of being in the European Union than being outside. I contrast that with a strangely, almost euphoric attitude of a lot of people in the UK who see the Commonwealth in terms of a big new opportunity opening up.

So why are commonwealth countries so anxious?

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WATCH: Christine Jardine rip into the Tory Budget

On Politics Scotland this week, Christine Jardine shredded the entire budget red book with a few carefully chosen words and some gestures which would make a very fine gif if any of you are so inclined.

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Best wishes to Paddy

Paddy Ashdown revealed to Somerset Live today that he is being treated for bladder cancer:

Yes, I’m afraid I can confirm that. I have known for about three weeks that I am suffering from a cancer of the bladder.

I’m being effectively and wonderfully looked after by everyone at Yeovil Hospital, in whom I have complete confidence.

We must see about the outcome, which as always with things like this, is unpredictable.

I’ve fought a lot of battles in my life.

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