Lib Dems announce regional spokespeople on Brexit

The party has announced a team of Brexit spokespeople who will speak for each region of England.

The spokespeople were  briefed in Westminster this afternoon by  Nick Clegg on where May’s speech leaves the fight to protect Britain’s European future.

Nick Clegg  said:

Brexit is going to be a major upheaval for people up and down the country. It is easily the biggest political decision in modern history and the repercussions of the decisions made in the next few years will be felt for a generation.

The pound has already fallen in value and jobs have already migrated overseas. We must have no doubt that the years ahead will be tough for Britain.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to provide the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit government to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

The list of regional Liberal Democrat Brexit spokespeople are:
North:                     former MEP Fiona Hall/Lord John Shipley
Yorkshire and Humber:      Federal Policy Committee member Kamran Hussain
North West:                Hazel Grove candidate  Lisa Smart
West Midlands:         West Midlands mayoral candidate  Beverley Nielsen
East Midlands:             Harborough Lib Dems’ Zuffar Haq
Eastern:                   ALDE delegation member and former MEP candidate Belinda Brooks-Gordon
London:                    International Committee member Jonathan Fryer
South East:                Former European candidate  Antony Hook
Western:                   Former Lib Dem council group leader and Baroness Barbara Janke
Devon and Cornwall:  Lord Robin Teverson

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Fascinating. I’m merely the Regional Chair for the Western Counties and discover who my BREXIT spokesperson is via a post on Lib Dem Voice!

  • Were the Regional Parties consulted ? If not, why not ?

  • Michael Mullaney 19th Jan '17 - 12:09am

    As a party that backed the EU in part because we supported devolution of decisions to the local level-subsidiarity- be interested to know why regions weren’t consulted on who “their” spokespersons would be?

  • Suzanne fletcher 19th Jan '17 - 12:17am

    It would have been good to have been told, rather than find out in an LDV article (not shooting the messenger here) Whilst very well pleased with who we have in the Northern Region, Fiona Hall and John Shipley, it is the principle that worries me.

  • I thought the disastrous central ‘Command and Control’ model of 2010-2015 had been abandoned after the scathing General Election review the Party conducted after our electoral destruction in those years? Once again however it seems that the string pullers in London believe they know best and that the Party’s democratic and devolved structures are for boasting about when recruiting members rather than for observing in practice.

  • Mark Blackburn 19th Jan '17 - 8:05am

    I’ve been saying to anyone who cares to listen that just because Tim’s our leader and the party *seems* to be more socially liberal, don’t assume the old guard aren’t still pulling the strings. Nothing against the Western spokesperson personally, sure she’s deserving, but it seems strange giving the role to someone with dare I say a low profile currently and v ltd social media presence. Why not one of my excellent neighbouring PPCs who are trying to win back seats from the Tories? Even in relatively challenging Somerton & Frome I managed to lay into May and her speech on BBC Radio Somerset yesterday!

  • When time is short, centralised decision making is the only way to move quickly. We have leaders for a reason. It would have been nice to get an email but its an imperfect world. Cut some slack here, there area bigger fish to fry.

  • I think we should be careful about the way we announce this. When I saw the headline for a moment I thought it meant Baroness Janke was in favour of leaving the EU!

  • John Barrett 19th Jan '17 - 10:44am

    Hopefully this will not be followed by a list of Brexit spokesmen and women for each region of Scotland. (For those in doubt, I hope that remark is a joke, but I might well be proved wrong)

    As an outsider (from England) I am not only surprised at the way the appointments were made, without regions being aware of them, but at the obvious risk of diluting the relatively low media profile we have on this issue already, by having so many different people speaking on behalf of the party on the same issue.

    The other risk of not everyone being “on message” or having a high enough profile to get any media coverage at all must have been clear to those who made this decision.

    As Paul Holmes says – I though we had learned from past mistakes. Apparently not.

  • Firstly can I say that I am sure all these people have the potential to be fantastic Lib Dem spokespeople on Brexit but unless they have the confidence of their Region, how can they be call a spokesperson for that Region?
    i am Vice-Chair of the East Midlands, and after a quick email round our Exec by our Chair, it seems no one has been consulted on the appointment of “our” spokesperson and no-one was told they have even been made. To judge from comments I have seen hear & elsewhere, the same is true for other regions. This means those appointed have a big barrier in doing the role they have been appointed to and this will damage our fight against Brexit.
    Even if these appointments were needed, surely the Chairs of each Region should have been contacted and told what was happening and why. Yet again the English Party shows its contempt for the Regional Parties.

  • As another Scot looking on with interest, I have to agree with John B (and everyone else in this page, bar one!). This is not a criticism of any of the individuals appointed – all of whom are very worthy I’m sure. But we don’t do things by diktat in this party.
    A silly and completely avoidable mess.

  • @PJ. In what way was time short? We have known that Leave proceedings would begin ever since last June and since September that Article 50 would be moved by March. Ample time to consult with Regional Parties.
    @Leon. I am certainly not prone to defending the appallingly unaccountable English Party but are they the guilty party this time?

  • I found out about this from one of the regional chairs who contacted me having read this article yesterday evening. This was the first that I had heard about the plan. I have no objection to there being regional spokespeople appointed, indeed I am very supportive of the idea, but it was a oversight not to have told regional chairs in advance of the announcement. One of my stated aims for the English Party is an improvement in communications between the Federal Party, the English Party and the Regions, and to make sure we are working towards shared goals. That requires us all to remember that communication is a two-way process.

  • I do have sympathy with a lot of the comments here. I think the whole idea of having regional spokespeople to speak on this issue is brilliant. It was perhaps a triumph of hope over experience on my part to have thought that regions might have had some idea about it before it was announced, but I have alerted senior party figures to these comments in the hope that it encourages all elements of the party to think about their decisions and who they affect and who needs to be brought into the loop sooner rather than later.

  • Welcome sentiments from Liz and Caron except for their acceptance that ‘Regional Spokespeople’ should be appointed from on high and it would be enough to simply tell Regions about it after the event, albeit before the announcement was press released. Why should Regions not be involved in consultations and decisions about who the Regional Spokesperson might be?

    I remember that Nick Clegg used to strongly condemn the fact that we are the most over centralised European country other than tiny Malta. Shouldn’t the Lib Dems practise what we preach?

  • Andrew Page 19th Jan '17 - 1:05pm

    “I have alerted senior party figures to these comments in the hope that it encourages all elements of the party to think about their decisions and who they affect and who needs to be brought into the loop sooner rather than later.” Thanks Caron – although I’ve also taken this up with Sal and Tim myself.

    It’s a terrific idea but we do need to have some dialogue/consultation with regions prior to making these kinds of announcements, especially as we are both a democratic and federal party.

  • Simon Banks 20th Jan '17 - 5:44pm

    I agree with Gavin and Liz. Regional Execs do not appear to have been consulted and they should have been, via the Chairs. That’s the outgoing Chair until a new one is elected.

  • I thought I would be out of kilter with the rest of the libdems by being surprised by this announcement, although not against having representatives it would have been courteous to inform members other than via twitter which seems to be the common complaint here. Its all about communication far too centralised.

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