Category Archives: News

16 November 2018 – today’s press release

Lib Dems in ‘call to action’ to stop Brexit

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP has today written to Remain MPs from all political parties, urging them to back the Liberal Democrat’s campaign for a People’s Vote in the fight against Brexit.

Tom Brake said:

The Liberal Democrats have been consistently fighting for the last two years, but we know that now is the time for every single MP to make their decision on the most important matter facing the UK.

That is why I have written to Remain MPs urging them to join us in this fight.

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ALDC by-election review – 15 November

Four by elections took place on an eventful day for politics as a whole in the UK, with Lib Dem candidates standing in all four seats. 

Oxfordshire CC, Grove & Wantage
LD Jane Hanna 1925
Con 1447
Lab 459
Green 185
Turnout 27.85%
LD Hold
Percentage change from 2017

The outstanding result from the night came in the Grove & Wantage by-election for Oxfordshire County Council. Jane Hanna and the Oxfordshire Lib Dems put on a great campaign and increased their vote by 4.6% increasing their majority to strengthen their hold on the seat. A fantastic result for Jane and the party, congratulations and keep up the good work!

Kent CC, Canterbury North
Cons 1355
LD Alex Lister 756
Lab 660
Green 157
Ind 155
UKIP 120
Turnout 26.04%
Con Hold
Percentage change from 2017

A hard-worked campaign from Alex Lister and Kent Lib Dems saw a great swing of 7.1% cementing the Lib Dems place as the second party in the ward. The result saw the Conservatives lose 12.3% of their vote share highlighting the excellent performance from Lister despite defeat. Congratulations and let’s hope this result provides a platform for an increased focus on liberalism in the area. 

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Financial support to attend Conference

Have you ever wanted to attend our federal party conferences but been discouraged because of financial or access issues?

The Federal Conference Committee (of which I am a member) wants to enable everyone to attend, so some years ago we set up an Access Fund to provide support.

This is how it works:

  • Everyone who registers for conference is asked if they would like to contribute to the Fund.
  • Anyone with relevant needs can apply to the Access Fund for support. In short, it can cover childcare, accommodation and travel for anyone who could not otherwise afford it, plus specific costs for those with disabilities (such as sign language interpreting and mobility scooters). You can see more detail about what can be covered and how to apply here.
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Friendship, addiction and Brexit: Alastair Campbell’s poignant and frank Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture

In the last 3.5 years, so many people have wondered what Charles Kennedy would have had to say about Brexit and our fight against it. A European to his core, he would have been such a strong and credible voice for Remain in the referendum.

Our politics is so much the poorer for his absence and in this party, his loss is particularly acute. People across politics and outside politics had so much time for him.

We didn’t find out until after he died how close he was to Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Chief spin doctor. This was a relationship that transcended the fact that Charles was the leading opponent of the  Iraq war.

Last night Alastair Campbell travelled to Fort William to give the annual Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture.

He recalled when Charles asked him to think about running for Rector of Glasgow University when he stood down:

As his second term as Glasgow University Rector neared its end, he sounded me out as a possible successor. He said listen, your Dad was at Glasgow, your brother is the principal’s official piper, your name and your bagpipes give you a bit of Scottish cred, you get on with young people, and, you would love it.’

‘But Charles, what about Iraq?’

‘Oh, Iraq. Huh huh, yes, Iraq. I forgot you were part of all that, weren’t you? Ach well, not to worry.’

He touched on Brexit and what Charles would have made of it all:

On the day of his funeral, we were driving up to Fort William from Glasgow airport listening to the tributes across Good Morning Scotland. A constituent recalled asking him whether he intended to support or oppose the bedroom tax, and Charles saying he would oppose it. His reasoning was very simple. ‘It’s just wrong.’

And I think he would argue very strongly that it is just wrong if the government and Parliament press ahead with a course of action that they know is going to make people poorer, our country weaker, our standing in the world lower. I believe too he would have had no difficulty arguing against this notion that somehow it is anti-democratic to put the outcome of these negotiations back to the people, given the Brexit now on offer bears next to no relation to the false prospectus on which it was sold. MPs are there to lead not follow, and Charles would have led the argument that that far from it being anti-democratic to have a People’s Vote, it would be anti-democratic – just wrong– not to. So we keep fighting.

That wasn’t the main topic of his lecture though. He wanted to talk about mental health and addiction. 

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15 November 2018 – today’s press releases

A tricky day for a Press Team, I’d suggest. After all, all the attention is directed towards who might, or might not, resign, and whether or not a leadership contest will be called. Who’d be a press officer under such circumstances?…

  • Cable: The Conservative Government is in meltdown
  • Cable: PM’s incompetence leaves UK unprepared for all options
  • Brexit chaos hitting UK businesses hard
  • Cable: ‘No Brexit’ clearly on the table
  • Cable: PM in Brexit denial

Cable: The Conservative Government is in meltdown

Responding to the resignation of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable said:

The Government started Britain on a journey with no

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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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14 November 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a long day today, with the last press release issued after 10 p.m….

  • Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages
  • Number Ten bows to pressure on FOBT stakes
  • Failures on women’s health becoming the norm
  • DUP “punishment beating” comments unacceptable and dangerous
  • ‘No Brexit’ still a very real possibility
  • Country still none the wiser on PM’s blindfold Brexit
  • Brexit will rob UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools

Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has warned the Tories are being “unacceptably risky” as a House of Commons committee finds that failures in preparing for Brexit mean food shortages …

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More than one person a minute joins Lib Dems since May’s statement

Theresa May’s statement in Downing Street tonight seems to have motivated a bunch of people to do something to stop Brexit. They’ve joined the Lib Dems.

Actually, now it’s over 300…..

They got a welcome from the leader:

 

And it must be pretty remarkable if the BBC notices:

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Brexit deal open thread….Lib Dems react

I predicted on Facebook this morning that there would be few if any resignations in the wake of the Brexit deal and it looks like, thus far at least, I’ve been proven right. The thing is, Tories love power. They feel entitled to power. When they have it, even if they are trashing the place, they are not going to give it up. So they grit their teeth and put up with a deal we know that they hate.

The deal is by its very nature worse than the deal we have at the moment. For sure, the EU needs its backside kicking in many ways, but then so does our own governance. Let’s face it, we have a whole house full of unelected people, with special places reserved for the leaders of one denomination of one religion.  We allow governments elected on barely a third of the vote virtually unchecked power.

We have been leaders in the EU. We have helped form the rules. We’re giving up all that to take what we’re given. In what universe is that taking back control? It’s like we’ve gone into a restaurant and ordered a roast beef with all the trimmings and been given a heap of tripe.

Lib Dems have been reacting to the news tonight. Vince picked up on two little words in the PM’s statement – no Brexit, which she said was a possibility.

The crucial change is that the Prime Minister and the Government have admitted for the first time that the choice for the country is not just between this bad deal or ‘no deal’.  Instead, ‘No Brexit’ is a very real possibility.

“It is time to return this issue to the country, and give people the option to Remain.

 

Willie Rennie pointed out the chaos in the Tory Party:

This Conservative Government is in total chaos. The veneer of unity in the cabinet will not secure unity in the country, parliament or even their own party.

This deal will not satisfy anyone regardless of whether they voted leave or remain. Instead Brexit will hurt the pockets of ordinary people and leave the UK weakened.

Theresa May has a chance to steer the UK away from the cliff edge. She should call a People’s Vote and give the public the power to choose what happens next.

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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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Homelessness and Universal Credit

Panorama this week revealed large numbers of social housing tenants on Universal Credit owe more than double in rent arrears on average than benefit claimants on the legacy Housing Benefit scheme.
The new benefits scheme is sending many council tenant’s rent arrears spiralling. Research conducted by the show revealed that across much of the UK, Universal Credit (UC) claimants owe local authorities an average of £662.56, compared with £262.50 on the Housing Benefit scheme…

Universal Credit was rolled out in Flintshire, North Wales in April 2017. UC claimants there owe the council an …

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Has the PM Really Completed a Brexit Deal?

On hearing that a technical deal had been done for Brexit Jacob Rees-Mogg said that “it is a failure of the government’s negotiation position, it is a failure to deliver on Brexit…”

The news is that the technical deal has been done and the document is over 200 pages long. It is reported that there will be a meeting on Wednesday (14th March 2018) at 2:00 pm with the Cabinet to discuss the proposed technical deal and at the same time ambassadors of the 27 EU countries will also get copies of the deal. It is being speculated that the government …

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13 November 2018 – today’s press releases

We’ve had a deluge of press releases today, perhaps unsurprisingly, given events…

  • Moran: Isolation booths are a symbol of a broken education system
  • Davey: Brexodus already damaging NHS and social care
  • Lib Dems back move to defeat ‘craven’ Govt over FOBT delay
  • Brexit will derail the gravy train
  • Davey: Tory cuts make our borders less secure
  • Both Tories and Labour must be transparent about Brexit mess
  • Layla Moran: Botched Brexit can be stopped
  • Cable: Deal will be torn apart before ink is dry
  • MPs must now let people have final say on Brexit

Moran: Isolation booths are a symbol of a broken education system

Responding to a report by the BBC …

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The South East region: Increasing youth membership is essential for political survival.

Tilly Russell and I were elected as the new Young Liberals (YL) Regional Chairs for the South East; the first thing that we would like to say is a huge ‘thank you’ to everybody that voted for us.

For us both, the region is one of those places that is close to our hearts. Both Tilly and I have lived here for the whole of our lives, it is and always has been our home. We’ve both worked here, studied here and campaigned here. We are both truly honoured that we were chosen to represent it, increasing youth engagement is essential for political survival.

Like us, if you too live in the South East region, you will feel the same. However, this feeling alone is not enough. It is now time to put our feelings into action, we need to carry on fighting for what we believe in. We not only want to re-light a flame that has seemingly disappeared in some areas, but instead start a fire. I know that this is a bold statement to make but we truly believe that it is possible.

And we, as the South East Young Liberals, have started to do that already. The above picture shows some of the successes that we’ve had. These include candidates standing in by-elections, campaigning for a Peoples Vote and organising the biggest Fresher’s campaign yet. 

During the election campaign, Tilly and I created a manifesto explaining how we would go about doing just that. It centres around three core pledges: more events; increased online development and, most importantly, empowering the membership.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, a former youth charity worker, has called for the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to be raised to 14. The UN suggests that 12 should be an absolute minimum baseline. On both sides of the border, we fall short of this. In England and Wales, it’s 10 and in Scotland just 8.

The Scottish Government is putting forward legislation to raise it in line with the UN minimum guidelines, but Alex says that it doesn’t go far enough:

Scotland is the only country in the EU where children as young as eight can find themselves

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12 November 2018 – today’s press releases

This feature is now back on UK time, and so, here’s what we’ve got for you this evening…

  • Welsh Lib Dems Investing in Teachers
  • Brexit can be stopped but Corbyn must get out of the way
  • Ed Davey: Hostile environment must be completely scrapped
  • Brake: Corbyn must listen to Brown

Welsh Lib Dems Investing in Teachers

Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in support for Wales’ teachers since devolution through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL), announced today by the Education Secretary, will focus on professional learning and …

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European Liberals adopt 2019 manifesto, express regret over Brexit

Liberals from across Europe gathered in Madrid this week to debate and fine tune a document designed to be the focus for liberal campaigning in the run-up to next year’s European Parliamentary elections.

The document is divided into key themes as follows;

  • For a united Europe ready for the future
  • A Europe of innovation and opportunities for all
  • Opportunities and innovation through small and medium-sized enterprise and free trade
  • Digital innovation that benefits and unites us
  • A Europe that leads on the global stage
  • A responsible Europe that works better for you
  • Making every Euro count: investing wisely

It is a document which is ambitious for a liberal Europe, …

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11 November 2018 – today’s absence of press releases

Not surprisingly, there have been no press releases on Remembrance Sunday. Normal service will, I presume, resume tomorrow.

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Senior Liberal Democrats mark 100th anniversary of the Armistice

As acts of remembrance take place in communities the length and breadth of the country, our senior people have said what the day means to them:

Willie Rennie said:

Today we mark a huge milestone of remembrance. We remember and honour those who fought for freedom and gave their lives to keep us safe, in the First World War and since.

100 years on it’s important to take time to reflect on the sacrifice of both those who fought bravely abroad and the men and women who kept life going on the home front.

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10 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Never let it be said that we at Liberal Democrat Voice ignore the wishes of our readers. Yesterday, Tony H. suggested that I include a list of the press release headlines at the beginning of the article. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I’ll model this today…

In other news, I’m expanding the range of press releases we publish, including those from the ALDE Party, as you may find them of interest.

  • European liberals adopt manifesto for the 2019 elections
  • No deal Brexit could lead to food shortages in hospitals

European liberals adopt manifesto for the 2019 elections

After a very successful …

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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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9 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Today’s press releases are running on Spanish time today, which perhaps explains why I’ve missed my usual pre-midnight slot. Regardless, do enjoy today’s press releases…

Another Johnson joins the campaign for a People’s Vote

Responding as Jo Johnson resigns from the Government to campaign for a People’s Vote Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, said:

We warmly welcome Jo Johnson’s support of the campaign to give the people the final say on the deal and a chance to exit from Brexit.

This is a fascinating situation in which Jo and his sister are united in opposing their brother Boris and his Brexit plans.

Meanwhile

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ALDC by-election report – 8 November 2018

There were four seats up for grabs this week in what was a tricky week for the party. Lib Dem candidates stood in all four elections however faced some tough tests in relatively safe seats. We’d like to thank our candidates Nigel Bakhai, Lesley Rideout, Christopher Styles-Power and Robert Thurston for all their hard work campaigning and for representing the party in some difficult battles.

Ealing LB, Dormers Wells

Lab 1868
Con 429
LD Nigel Bakhai 188
Green 106

Turnout 26%
Lab Hold
Percentage change from 2018

Harlow DC, Bush Fair 

Labour 543
Con 460
UKIP …

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Jo Swinson’s book nominated for an award

Jo Swinson’s Equal Power was one of my best reads of this year. I have now bought or won four copies of the thing – one on my Kindle, one real one and two to give away. Last weekend, I spent a small fortune on yet another at the Edinburgh West dinner. It is a book that everyone should read. It’s not just a book, it’s an action plan. Jo is never one to underestimate anyone’s capacity for work, so she shows us how we can be the change we want to see.

So I’m chuffed to see that Equal Power has made the shortlist in the “Best Non Fiction by a Parliamentarian” category in the Parliamentary Book Awards 2018. The awards ceremony will be held on 4th December and the winners will be chosen by parliamentarians themselves.  The 11 shortlisted books are as follows:

Best Memoir by a Parliamentarian

  • The Power of Politicians by Tessa Jowell, and Frances D’ Souza, edited and with an introduction by Claire Foster-Gilbert (Haus Publishing (published with the Westminster Abbey Institute))
  • In My Life: A Music Memoir by Alan Johnson (Transworld)
  • Confession of a Recovering MP by Nick de Bois (Biteback)
  • Confessions of a Political Maverick by Austin Mitchell (Biteback)

Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian

  • Equal Power: Gender Equality and How to Achieve It by Jo Swinson (Atlantic)
  • Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy (Random House)
  • Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future by Ruth Davidson (Hodder)
  • Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters by Jesse Norman (Penguin)
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Observations of an ex pat: Stones v Avalanche

In the wake of the victory in the House of Representatives, Democrats are preparing to hurl stones at President Trump. The Donald—flushed with Senate victory– has responded by setting loose a pre-emptive avalanche.

The cheers had yet to subside when presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Democratic victory in the lower house meant the restoration of legislative oversight and the constitutional system of checks, balances.

In practical terms this means the House withholding funds for Trump’s wall and immigration programmes and launching corruption investigations into cabinet members. Of course, there is also the number one target—Trump and his family. This involves inquiries into sexual misconduct, obstruction of justice, violation of campaign funding laws, possible tax evasion, ethics violations, Russian collusion and, support for the Mueller investigation.

Impeachment is lurking about in the political background. A Democratic majority in the House means they could quickly pass a resolution. But it would hit the brick wall of Trump acolytes in the Senate where a two-thirds majority is required to remover the president from the White House.

Nancy Pelosi also extended the traditional olive branch in her victory press conference. Donald Trump initially responded with a corresponding show of traditional bipartisanship. It lasted—at the most—five minutes. The suspension of White House credentials for CNN reporter Jim Acosta and the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions insured that the political chasm that divides America has only widened.

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8 November 2018 – today’s press releases

High Court rules Government must reverse cuts to modern slavery victims

Responding to today’s High Court ruling that the Government acted unlawfully when it cut payments to modern slavery victims, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Theresa May once rightly called modern slavery the great human rights issue of our time, but her Government cut support for victims by 40%, leaving them vulnerable to further exploitation.

Now that the court has ruled those cuts unlawful, the Government must reverse them and ensure that victims receive the help they need to escape the terrible bonds of slavery.

You can’t fight

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A fresh new voice in Washington DC

Ilhan Omar has just been elected as US Representative for the 5th district of Minnesota. Along with Rashida Tlaib, elected for Michigan’s 13th district, she is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress.



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7 November 2018 – (the rest of) today’s press releases

Tonight’s press releases are brought to you from Madrid, where hundreds of liberals from across Europe are gathering for the ALDE Party Congress. This feature might be rather more erratically timed than usual until Sunday…

Brexit legal advice must be published

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has called on the Government to end their “murky games” and publish all legal advice on Brexit plans for the Irish border.

Mr Brake said:

Refusing to publish legal advice on Brexit makes a mockery of the discredited mantra ‘Take Back Control’. Choosing to withhold this information from the public raises serious questions about what

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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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HS2 – Is it worth it?

I have been ambivalent about HS2 and working in the rail industry was somewhat biased towards the idea of building a high-speed rail link. I am not always convinced with the arguments when people say we can spend funds better elsewhere as I find such arguments lack a follow through or a wider perspective (yet I propose to do precisely that in this article). However, the astronomical costs of HS2 are making me question if there is a viable business plan anymore. The drive for its build now seems to be political rather than economic.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says there will be almost 15,000 seats an hour on trains between London and the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, trebling the current capacity. The plan was HS2 would connect London to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, and the East Midlands.

The first phase timing was considered ambitious by the Public Accounts Committee which is due to be opened by the end of 2026 for high-speed travel between London and Birmingham. Subsequent phase to Manchester and Leeds could start being built in the middle of the next decade, with the line to be opened by 2032-33. The cost of phase one (London to Birmingham) has already increased from £16bn to £22bn (an increase of 38 percent) due to the amount of tunneling required and purchase of land. The total cost of HS2 at the moment is expected to be £52bn. Although an article in the Sunday Times quoted one of the people who work at DfT, who made the estimates, who now says that the full cost could be well over £100bn.

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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 16th Nov - 10:45pm
    To be frank, Congressman Cherin, I'm getting pretty fed up with people putting a gloss on things and pretending that a cruel disaster (UC) is...
  • User AvatarChris Bertram 16th Nov - 10:19pm
    I have seen an explanation of possible reasons for the Dursley result. I have copied them to the private forum, so if you want to...
  • User AvatarDavid Walsh 16th Nov - 9:53pm
    Great to hear this is available. Anything that brings down barriers, making things equal for all, is a step in the right direction. There's so...
  • User Avatarmarcstevens 16th Nov - 9:52pm
    Good results in all 3 seats except for Stroud DC where there was a collapse in vote share from 24.1%. It would be good to...
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Nov - 9:52pm
    The day Charles Kennedy was forced to step down was the day I left the party.
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 16th Nov - 9:21pm
    @ David Raw. Yes, indeed. Surely someone from LDV should find out what went wrong in Stroud.