Category Archives: LibLink

For highlighting articles by Lib Dems that have appeared elsewhere in the media.

LibLink: Wera Hobhouse: Solving the housing crisis means using the empty houses we’ve already got

Housing spokesperson Wera Hobhouse has written for the Huffington Post about how a Liberal Democrat amendment passed in the Lords this week will help alleviate the housing crisis.

Politicians have a moral obligation to help solve this crisis, and one part of the process must be bringing empty properties back into use. Of course, we must build more homes – 300,000 per year to be precise – but bringing empty properties back into use is an excellent way in the short-term to help families in desperate need of a home, whilst saving valued green belt land from development. Equally, by bringing empty homes back into use, we can help regenerate struggling communities. After all, regions with the highest number of vacant dwellings are often also the areas that have been left behind in terms of economic growth.

Last year was the first year since the recession that the number of empty homes in England did not decrease. This is unsurprising. Tory Government cuts to local authorities hamper their enforcement capabilities. All dedicated empty homes investment programmes, programmes that my colleagues in Coalition fought tooth and nail for including my predecessor in Bath Don Foster, were severed in 2015. It was a 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto promise to reduce the number of empty homes by 250,000, and that is something they delivered in Coalition and can be incredibly proud of.

t is clear something must be done. The Liberal Democrats strongly supported the calls to double the council tax on empty homes, but now we have gone one step further. Yesterday in the House of Lords, the Liberal Democrat amendment, which increases council tax the longer you leave it empty, has been adopted and passed by Parliament. There are of course exemptions, for example where a resident is in residential or nursing care or when a member of the armed forces serves overseas for long periods. These premiums on council tax are not statutory. Councils have the flexibility to apply them or not.

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LibLink: William Wallace Aggressive language from political extremes and media will spark violence against MPs

Our William Wallace writes for Politics Home about the dangers of the language used in political discourse.

Almost at the same time, the Telegraph tweeted this:

Tom Brake was quick to call them out:

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Lib Link: Alex Cole-Hamilton: We still don’t value women in public life

If you wander round Edinburgh, you might think that men were the only people who ever did anything important.  Alex Cole-Hamilton has reflected of the lack of recognition for women in a post for the Women 50/50 campaign’s blog:

Well, because all told, statues of animals outnumber statues of women in the city by about 5:1. Walking down the Royal Mile, you couldn’t swing a dead Great Auk around your head for fear of hitting the stone effigy of a bloke who was big during the enlightenment – but there is no sign of the women who built so much of this city and its legacy.

A number of city MSPs and I from all parties have recently taken up the campaign to see Elsie Inglis commemorated on the Royal Mile. Elsie was a leading Suffragist in the late 19th century and was close friends with Millicent Fawcett. As a doctor, she established the Women’s Hospitals Movement which took mobile field hospitals to the bloodiest battlefields of World War 1. She was one of the only women ever to receive a state funeral and there are statues to her in Serbia and in France. Her only recognition in the capital is a small plaque in St Giles Cathedral.

The commemoration of important and trail-blazing women matters. It matters because if we don’t do it then the subliminal impact of public art is to cement the patriarchal view that only men can ever achieve greatness. I want to be able to walk up the Royal Mile with my daughter, Darcy, from the palace to castle, and ignite her ambition by pointing out famous female lawyers, politicians and authors and walk her through the steps she’ll need to take if she wants to be like them. The same is true for TV; modern political dramas, whether it be House of Cards or Designated survivor, idealise the rise of men and show the lead character using his male resources to grasp the reins of power. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see a TV adaptation of the life and career of Mary Esslemont, Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams.

I have a slight quibble with his conclusion, though:

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LibLink: “The supply of social housing has almost dried up” – Dorothy Thornhill

If, when I was Elected Mayor of Watford, you had asked me what kept me awake at night, I would have said the number of families we had in bed and breakfast (it was once a matter of pride that there were none), and whether we had enough temporary accommodation.

Dorothy Thornhill (now an active parliamentarian in the House of Lords) has been writing in PoliticsHome about her worries about the supply of social housing. She writes:

It tells its own story that the rise in evictions from the private sector is now the top reason for people ending up in council temporary accommodation. Private rents are now out of reach for too many working families. The supply of social housing has almost dried up.

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LibLink: Layla Moran “Airbus shows businesses are running out of patience with our Government”

Layla Moran has been writing on Huffpost on the fallout from Airbus’s announcement that it will pull out of Britain (with the loss of thousands of jobs) if there is no transition deal on Brexit.

She writes:

The difficulty for those of us campaigning against an extreme Brexit ripping us out of the world’s largest market is that not enough people feel that the economy is nose-diving.

Take Airbus. It is looking for a breakthrough later this week at the European Council meeting, or else. It was a brave announcement, that if we don’t secure a decent trade deal, it is likely to move factories and jobs abroad – brave not for the act of leaving but for coming out and saying it.

So why did Airbus risk such an announcement? Because this wasn’t a threat. This was the first stage of its disinvestment from the UK; the risk of a no-deal Brexit is now simply too great, and too soon. Even a company the size of Airbus cannot afford to risk £1billion a week.

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Christine Jardine’s personal story on why we need to legalise cannabis

I was moved to read Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine’s take on the legalisation of cannabis. She has epilepsy and tells her personal story about why she feels legalising medicinal cannabis is necessary.

“The doctors could not then, and cannot even now, offer an explanation as to what caused me to have a major grand mal seizure in my sleep.

For many years, I was afraid to sleep alone if my husband was away in case I had attack and there was nobody there to look after me.”

She also shared the story of a constituent who is desperate for medicinal cannabis for her young son.

Medicinal cannabis has the potential to alleviate the suffering of thousands of children in this country.

Children like my constituent Murray Gray, whose rare myoclonic astatic epilepsy can put him through multiple seizures a day, have their schooling interrupted, their health affected and their families constantly worried for their safety.

Christine’s empathy and angle on this subject is well worth a read. You can find the full article here.

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Liblink: Baroness Thomas… ‘do away with hostile atmosphere’

Over at Politics Home, Celia Thomas criticises the assessment process for Personal Independence Payments, highlighting the very large number of decisions that are found wrong on appeal and the ‘hostile atmosphere’ for claimants.

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Christine Jardine on why medical cannabis should be legalised

In Christine Jardine’s Edinburgh West constituency, there’s a little boy called Murray. He has severe Epilepsy. Medical Cannabis could make a huge difference to his life, alleviating the seizures he suffered on a daily basis.

Christine has been helping Murray’s mum, Karen, campaign for a change in the law. She writes in the Edinburgh Reporter about why this is so important:

In my constituency a little boy called Murray Gray has won the hearts of the public through his very similar plight. A rare form of epilepsy which could be eased if the law were changed.

“I went to Downing Street with his Mum, Karen, to hand in a petition of more than 150,000 signatures calling for medical cannabis to be made legal.

“If it, or cannabidoil were available on license then Murray would not have to go through the multiple seizures which have interrupted his schooling.

“For Murray it could be life changing.

“And he is not alone.

“How many of us know someone who suffers from chronic pain?

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An academic Brexodus is upon us

Lib Dem activist Dr Ruvi Zieglar has written for the Cherwell, Oxford University’s newspaper, on the effect of Brexit being felt by universities. Many European staff are leaving because of the uncertainties surrounding jobs, research funding and future prospects.

Ruvi says,

‘Brexodus’ is picking up speed: according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 130,000 EU27 citizens emigrated between September 2016-17, the highest number since the 2008 financial crisis.

Ruvi goes on to explain,

Nearly two years after the referendum, EU27 are still waiting for their post-Brexit rights to be secured….The draft Withdrawal Agreement hardly

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Seven steps you can take to fight Brexit

Jo Swinson has written for the New European on Brexit. In the style of her excellent book, Equal Power, she explains the problem and then gives you a whole list of things you can do about it.

We wake up to headlines every day which emphasise the many reasons why Brexit is a bad idea. As well as one of the key protagonists and funders of a Leave campaign having more contact with the authoritarian Russian Government than is seemly (for the avoidance of doubt, none would be seemly), the Government’s own papers suggesting we’d run out of

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Layla on Palestine

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has been writing for Politics Home on Palestine. The first MP of Palestinian descent, she has special insight into the troubles experienced and what the solutions might be. You can find the full article here, but to get you started here is an excerpt.

Working with our EU partners, now more valuable than ever before, the UK Government must meet the expectations on its special responsibilities and influence in the Middle East. The US has left the field, UK Government Ministers cannot hide away. And we

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Jo debates abortion

There was a lively debate between Jo Swinson and Jacob Rees-Mogg concerning abortion on Tuesday’s Daily Politics. Here is a link if you’d like to have a look.

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On the effects of social media on young people

Moral hazard or moral panic? Is social media warping the fragile minds of our children or is it the end of the atomised individual and the rediscovery of community? Is it a bit of both, and what might be done to improve the mix?

Baroness Floella Benjamin writes of her work on these questions through the APPG on a fit and health childhood, and Norman Lamb MP explains how the Science and Technology select committee is also looking at this.

This interest is perhaps to be feared and welcomed in equal measure. Feared, because the knee jerk response to moral …

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Paddy Ashdown on Windrush and Hong Kong

Over at Politics Home, Paddy Ashdown compares the Windrush scandal to Britain’s treatment of British subjects in Hong Kong at the point of our handover of their country to a tyrannical foreign power.

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LibLink: Ed Davey: New Data Law could lead to more Windrush scandals

There’s a nasty little clause in the Data Protection Bill soon to be finalised by Parliament which means that the Home Office is under no obligation to tell people why they’ve made their decisions.

The Home Office has a fairly consistent record of showing that it needs much more accountability rather than less.

In an article for Politics Home, Ed Davey sets out the issues:

This “immigration exemption” clause would allow the Home Office to cover up its mistakes – indeed, not even find out when it had made a mistake. Because the applicant to the Home Office – or more likely their lawyer – wouldn’t be able to get access to their file, the very information used to make a decision on their future.

So, if the Home Office acts incorrectly, as they have done with Windrush documents, an individual wouldn’t be able to challenge the decision – because they won’t be allowed to know the reasons why they are being thrown out of the country. By using the new law to block the “Subject Access Requests” lawyers use to check the Home Office has got the right information on their client – and even the right person – the Home Office will become party to huge injustices. This could lead to hundreds of deportations of people who have the right to be here – people who are British citizens.

MPs who work week in, week out, know the sheer scale of the mistakes the Home Office make, every day. Latest figures from the Law Society revealed how the Home Office lose 50% of cases on appeal. And specialist lawyers have provided MPs with plenty of examples of gross Home Office errors, where the Home Office gets the wrong identity, reads their own files incorrectly and doesn’t even acknowledge the decisions it previously made about an individual.

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LibLink: Derek Laud on the Windrush debacle

The investigative work of Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian has uncovered the implications of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’, and let us not kid ourselves with talk of Amber Rudd’s resignation, responsibility for this falls squarely upon the head of our Prime Minister.

Former Conservative speechwriter, and now a member of the Liberal Democrats, Derek Laud wrote for the Guardian over the weekend. In his powerful piece, he highlights that the impact of Government policy on Windrush pensioners is not an isolated error;

It cannot be incidental that some of the most important issues facing us today are about matters of freedom,

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Elected representatives will do the right thing on Brexit


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In the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg writes very realistically about the prognosis for Brexit:

Public opinion has shifted a little in favour of the Remain camp, and a lot towards wider concern about the impact of Brexit on the NHS and the economy. But it remains firmly enveloped in an indifference towards the details of the negotiations, and a sullen belief that politicians should just “get on with it”. Advertising campaigns by anti-Brexit groups will not, on their own, shift opinion in a big way.

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LibLink: Robin Teverson: It is the fuel poor who are destined to feel the post Brexit chill

There are many ways in which Brexit will harm the poorest people in our society. The cost of heating their homes is one which Lib Dem Peer Robin Teverson highlighted in a article for Politics Home this week:

The good news is that excepting a major failure in replacing the Euratom regime that regulates our nuclear power sector, and if we manage to replicate Euratom’s nuclear cooperation agreements with our overseas nuclear equipment and fuel suppliers, Brexit blackouts are not the threat.

But even here there is little room for complacency. Our home-grown replacement for Euratom – the beefed-up Office for Nuclear

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Liblink: Christine Jardine: My shock at Islamophobia wrapped up in Union flag

Twice recently, Christine Jardine has visited a Mosque in her constituency.

When she’s posted the pictures on social media, the nasty, racist comments started to flow. She wrote about that experience in the Scotsman this week:

I was brought up in Glasgow where sectarianism is almost commonplace. But I had never experienced anything like this. After removing a string of offensive and abusive comments from my page, I posted another comment asking people to be more respectful. That was a waste of time. It seems my offence was to cover my head, something my Church of Scotland-going grandmother long ago taught me

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Alex speaks out on assisted dying

Alex Cole-Hamilton, our Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western, wrote an article for the Edinburgh Evening News on Tuesday, giving his personal views on assisted dying.

It opens

We lost my father-in-law shortly before Easter. He passed in the comfort of his home surrounded by love and light and in the arms of his family. It was an end to aspire to. Such a passing is not afforded to everyone, however, and I grieve for those families who have seen their loved ones struggle in pain, indignity and distress for protracted periods before the end. Public policy change around end of life care remains one of the hottest political potatoes out there and to my mind we’re still not getting it right.

Alex feels passionately that

If we reach the limit of human endurance, if the pain goes beyond the grasp of palliative care; we should have the human right to say: “this far and no further” and be assisted, with proper safeguards to take such steps as necessary to quit this life in dignity.

He goes on to say

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Brexiters wanted to take back control but we risk losing control of Ireland

Nick Clegg has been in Ireland this week talking about Brexit with fellow Remainers Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis.

In his iPaper column, he talks about the massive problems Brexit will cause.

We also share responsibility for a precious peace in Northern Ireland. But too many ministers, including the Prime Minister, have treated these obligations as inconvenient obstacles on the way to the hardest of Brexits. It was the same situation during the referendum, when leading Brexiteers were quick to dismiss any concerns about the Irish border. But there is no avoiding the obvious consequences of the British government’s determination to interpret the 2016 referendum result as a mandate to take the UK out of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Doing so will see a land border created between the EU and the UK for the first time, and if the tariffs, standards and regulations adopted by the UK diverge from that of the EU, then a working border, with customs checks, will be unavoidable.

So how do we get out of it? Parliament, Nick says, can vote it down, but some people just shouldn’t bother turning up because they just won’t help:

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LibLink: Vince picks out Shirley Williams as the female parliamentarian that he most admires from the last 100 years


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To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK, House magazine have done an article where prominent MPs pay tribute to the female parliamentarian they most admire from the last 100 years.

They have the Speaker, John Bercow, paying tribute to Eleanor Rathbone. Andrea Ledsom writes about Nancy Astor. Cheryl Gillan and Emma Little-Pengelly talk of Margaret Thatcher. Baroness Smith and Angela Raynor pay tribute to Ellen Wilkinson, while Kirsty Blackman extols Winnie Ewing and Lord Fowler describes Baroness Swanborough (Stella Isaacs – the first female member of the House of Lords).

Vince Cable writes eloquently in tribute to Shirley Williams:

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LibLink: Tom Brake: Boris and Davis aren’t the only ones suffering from “Delusionitis”

In an article for the Huffington Post, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson forensically takes apart six arguments made by the Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam in a letter to his constituents.

Tom tackled the assertion that the thought of a referendum on the deal would encourage the EU to give us a bad deal.

So far, the negotiations have clearly demonstrated that the EU is in a much stronger negotiating position, with our Government capitulating at every turn. In fact, when asked in December to name a concession that the EU had made, the only thing EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier could think of was that he did not “at this stage insist that the UK should pay the removal costs” for EU agencies. This should come as no surprise as the EU’s GDP is five times larger than ours. In other words, Brexit will damage our economy much more than theirs.

The EU’s position has been clear from the very beginning; The integrity of the Single Market must be protected and is non-negotiable. This does not mean punishing Britain by giving it a bad deal. It simply means that a country that does not accept the four freedoms, the jurisdiction of the ECJ, and contributing to the EU budget, will not enjoy the exact same benefits of the Single Market membership. Neither a Hard Brexit nor a second referendum is going to change the EU’s position. We know what is on offer, and the ball is thus in the Government’s court to decide what type of future relationship with the EU it wants.

He also poured scorn on the idea that the Tories could be trusted to maintain the workers’ rights that the EU currently guarantees:

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LibLink: Jenny Randerson: The drone market is a bit like the Wild West. It needs some rules to make it safe

Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson has written for Politics Home about the need for regulation of drones for safety reasons.

So why are they a problem? Apart from the obvious terrorism and defence related issues, there are some more ordinary dangers:

In 2016 the police dealt with 3,456 incidents involving drones; that was 12 times the number of incidents logged in 2014, so the problems – like drone ownership – are growing rapidly.

Possibly the greatest risk is to aircraft. Drones can smash the windscreen or break the rotor blades in the case of helicopters, which would bring the aircraft down. Research

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LibLink : Floella Benjamin : Ministers should seize the baton and get serious on child obesity

As noted this morning, Floella Benjamin had an Oral Question in the House of Lords today on the subject of childhood obesity. On a day when Simon Jenkins is suggesting that obesity is a greater threat for millennials than cannabis (add your own comment there, I suggest), the question of the health of our children is a live one.

In a piece for The House Magazine, Floella, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood, notes;

From day one, we’ve said that if we are to defeat the obesity

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LibLink: Dick Taverne: The MP who beat Eurosceptics to hang on to his seat

A passionately pro European MP faces deselection by an anti-European local party. What happens then?

You could imagine this scenario unfolding for a fair few MPs today, but one person actually had this happen to him  and he survived. In 1972, Dick Taverne’s local Labour Party in Lincoln deselected him or voting for us to join the then Common Market.

It wasn’t the end of the world for him. He resigned as an MP and fought the subsequent by-election as an Independent and won.

He writes about his experience in this week’s New European to give moral support to any MPs in a similar situation today.

What also swayed a lot of votes was my appeal that politicians should put country first, constituency second and party third.

Burke proved popular. Indeed Roy Jenkins, not a natural populist, temporarily became a popular hero and told me that taxi drivers would wind down their windows if they passed him and shout: “You stick to your guns, mate.”

Are circumstances less favourable for a deselected dissident today? They are probably more favourable. At that time, party loyalties were much stronger than now. When I announced I would stand as an independent, the general view in the media was that I had committed political suicide.

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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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Liblink: Shas Sheehan on Oxfam

Baroness Sheehan, Liberal Democrat international development spokesperson, writes for Politics Home that the UK must lead the fight against institutionalised abuse wherever we find it.

The revelations emerging about the behaviour of some staff in Oxfam, and other aid organisations, are shocking. People who were sent to rebuild communities and get people back on their feet in the wake of a major natural disaster have betrayed those very people they were sent to help.

Those senior staff in Haiti who abused young women whilst they should have been helping to rebuild shattered lives after the 2010 earthquake, have rightfully shaken the public’s trust in respected household names and high street brands such as Oxfam and Save the Children.

And it appears that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – British cross-border supply chains will be strangled by hard Brexit red tape

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Writing in the i newspaper, Nick Clegg says that any chance of Soft Brexit has been killed off by Theresa May. Instead, MPs will be faced with the choice of a hard Brexit or no Brexit.

Nick Clegg hits the nail on the head when he describes how modern cross-border supply chains will be destroyed by a hard Brexit:

It cannot be said enough: the Brexit this Government is determined to impose on this country cannot under any circumstances avoid the introduction of extensive new barriers, costs and frictions to trade with our largest trading partners.

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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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    OK what about housing? I'm ashamed of many of my own generation (55+) who have not just been content with doing well out of the...
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