LIVE THREAD: Davis (and Johnson) quit, takes junior ministers with him…

23:59 A fascinating day comes to an end. We hope that you’ve enjoyed our coverage, and do continue the debate via the comments section. Goodnight from all at LDV!

21:34 And I think that that’s it as far as the Cabinet and major posts go, as Geoffrey Cox becomes the new Attorney General.

No women, very little new blood, but it looks as though the Brexit/Remain balance has been broadly maintained.

It does feel like an administration limping from one crisis to the next, but like the grey skies over mid-Suffolk this evening, you can’t rule out thunderstorms. And who’s that coming over …

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Davis, Baker and Braverman quit, welcome to my day: 9 July 2018 – the day the Conservative Party breaks?

The overnight news that David Davis has resigned as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and that his junior Ministers, Steve Baker and Suella Braverman have gone with him, is the first public sign that the Chequers Accord is not the panacea that it was first thought to be.

I’ll be trying to keep up with developments here, but it may be that we are in a state of chaos. What larks, eh?

But seriously, what does this mean for the Government and for Brexit? And how should Liberal Democrat’s respond? Is it, as I would suggest, time to call …

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #523

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 523rd weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (1-7 July, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | 2 Comments

LibLink: Sal Brinton; The NHS can’t work without a sustainable social care system

As the NHS turned 70 this week, Sal Brinton looked back at the development of social care policy and outlined the Government’s failings:

… since 2015, the new Conservative Government has dithered and delayed, repeatedly promising that they would sort out the social care funding problem.

We still await the Green Paper promised in the Conservative 2017 Manifesto – with a side skirmish of the Dementia Tax, a form of inverse Dilnot, which so outraged voters it was dropped mid election.

Councils have faced massive cuts to all services, including making £6bn savings in adult social care since 2010. They are still being

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Help our MPs choose their Commons debate – last chance to have your say

Lib Dem MPs have a relatively rare opposition day debate this week. They are approaching it a bit differently by giving you a chance to decide the subject.

What’s particularly brilliant is that you get to vote preferentially too. That’ll be useful for next year’s Ashdown Prize organisers to note.

An email from Alistair Carmichael landed the other day:

On Tuesday 10th July, our MPs have an opposition day debate in Parliament.

This means that we can pick one topic and have MPs debate and vote on it in Westminster.

And we want to hear what you think MPs should be

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LibLink: Ed Davey: Terminally ill homeless people are dying on our streets. They deserve dignity like the rest of us

Here’s Ed Davey talking about the latest developments with his Bill to make sure that homeless people who are terminally ill are provided with appropriate accommodation and support. If you thought that this must automatically happen, then you are sadly mistaken.

In an article for …

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Lib Dem, Green and Labour LGBT organisations condemn transphobic protest at Pride

This morning I said I was excited about Pride in London today. Unfortunately, it has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a small number of transphobic protesters were allowed to march at the front and hand out transphobic literature to the people lining the streets. From the Huffington Post:

Organisers of the most “diverse” Pride event in London have hit back at accusations it allowed a group of anti-transgender activists to lead the parade through the capital on Saturday.

The small group, which reportedly only consisted of about 10 people, are believed to have carried signs with slogans such as “trans activists erase lesbians” and distributed leaflets stating “a male can never be lesbian”.

And here’s some more reports from Twitter:

The idea that someone’s rights must be the expense of someone else’s comes straight from the divisive rhetoric of the likes of Nigel Farage. And like Nigel Farage, a relatively small group of trans-exclusionary radical feminists are getting a disproportionate amount of air time, much of it complaining that they are being cut out of the “debate.” There’s a lot of their rhetoric which puts me in mind of the horrid homophobia I came across in the 80s.

A recent Stonewall report into trans people’s lives found that 40% had suffered hate crime in the last year and a third had suffered discrimination in their daily lives. These figures should worry liberals and we should be doing our best to stand up against it.

There is no conflict between women’s rights and transgender rights for the very obvious reason that women can be any combination of cis, trans, lesbian, heterosexual, of all races and religions (or none of the latter). Most women just work together for the good of everyone but there are a few who want to spread hate and there should be no place for that in any organisation which advocates equality.

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats condemned the protest and Pride in London’s reaction to it:

And there was a bit of cross-party consensus:

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Jo Swinson tweets first picture of baby Gabriel and his loving big brother

This will absolutely warm your heart.

Lovely to see young Andrew Hames embracing his wee baby brother, Gabriel.

All our very best wishes to Jo, Duncan Andrew and Gabriel.

Vince was bowled over by the photo too.

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Trump’s awful, but we need to put our own house in order

We expect President Trump to turn our long-held values on their head. Whether it’s banning Muslims or building a wall against Mexican migrants, withdrawing from the world’s agreement on limiting climate change, cosying up to Russia’s President Putin and doubting if NATO is still valuable, Trump’s Presidency seems like a bad dream from which we, and America, will only awake when his term ends.

But that will be years hence, Meantime he will visiting Britain next week. Has America changed so much that this presidency is not an aberration but a consistency?

Britain has to stand strong against that fear with Europe, with the EU and with our NATO allies. Our rocky, deplorable government has to be made by the progressive forces to stand up for our national values and our continued security.

So, when we hear that the government is to give ‘careful consideration’ to calls for a renewed judge-led inquiry into our country’s involvement in human rights abuses after the Iraq invasion, Liberal Democrats must assert the necessity for that enquiry until it is granted.

The necessity arises from the two reports published by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee. They show a shameful slippage of our own intelligence services’ values when assisting American operations in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. It is reported that the UK had planned, agreed or financed 31 rendition operations. In addition, on 15 occasions, British intelligence consented to or witnessed torture, and there  were 232 occasions when the intelligence agencies supplied questions to be put to detainees whom they knew or suspected were being mistreated.

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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:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Enjoy this exciting weekend!

Well, there’s plenty to distract us from the awfulness of Brexit this weekend. I’m probably most excited about the sheer joy, fabulousness and sparkliness of Pride taking to the streets of London. The first time I ever came across a Pride march was in London in 1992 when I was down for a Women Lib Dems Policy Committee. It was one of the happiest things I had ever seen. So much progress has been made since then, but, like all things we hold dear, we have to keep fighting. While LGBT people face hatred and discrimination on the street, in employment, in healthcare, at school, it is the liberal way to stand up for them and change things for the better.

I’m loving that the party has changed its social media avatars to go along with the Pride flags everywhere.

So, happy Pride everyone. For the first time, the Pride flag flies proudly over Richmond, thanks to the new Lib Dem Council there.

There is also the not so small matter of some football match in Russia. I have managed to avoid almost all of the World Cup so far. I mean, if football isn’t Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I generally don’t see the point of it. However, there is hope for me yet. Belgium’s defeat of Brazil last night brought an involuntary smile to me. I won’t feel the need to watch it, but good luck to England. Hope all our readers get the result you want and that you still have fingernails at the end of it. Vince is predicting that it’s going to be tense:

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Vince: PM’s plan weakens Britain

I should have actually written it on here, but I reckoned that the number of Cabinet ministers resigning today would be zero. Whether that holds up when they start to get grief from their constituency associations is yet to be seen.

It was always clear that whatever came out of the Chequers summit today would be less than what we have already.

We can’t get as good a deal as we get from being a full member of the European Union. We should be in there shaping hhe EU response to the challenges facing us all whether they be on security or …

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Federal People Development Committee report – 28th June 2017

This was a rather unusual meeting, in that it was dominated by one very large agenda item, discussing the idea of a registered supporters scheme. In fact, for the first time, we applied our 9pm meeting guillotine and postponed some other discussions to our July meeting.

We started in the normal way with staff reports. The committee was enormously impressed by the retention rates the Membership team have achieved this quarter, currently standing at 94.5%. That’s a fantastic achievement, and a credit to the team’s hard work. The Membership team have also started tracking Exit data – reasons why people have decided to leave. This is a really helpful innovation. It will be shared with State Parties but not beyond that for now, as it is obviously quite sensitive data. The team agreed to consider whether there was a way to share the data with local parties, but we need to find a reliable, secure system to do that and this is a brand new metric we are monitoring. I’ll let you know if that starts to be filed somewhere that local parties can view it. 

We did also note the changes to the Membership Incentive scheme – essentially this model gives a percentage of each member’s joining subscription back to the local party they live in. The system is being changed to reward renewal as well as recruitment, with a portion of subscription fees being paid to local parties in the second and third year of a person’s membership.

The Training team are doing great work too. The Autumn Conference training schedule is in the last stages of being finalised. They have slightly changed the process for allocating training sessions this year. All providers were asked to bid for courses, and given themes that the training should focus upon. Then everyone’s ideas were collated and where more than one provider wanted to run a course, they were asked to join forces, collaborate and present a joint course. We are also welcoming some new providers, to expand the training offer that members can enjoy at conference. It’s exciting to see this coming together so well and we will be monitoring feedback closely after conference to see if participants enjoy these co-presented sessions.

The Diversity and Candidates team are currently without a “Head”, as the recruitment of a replacement for Arfan Bhatti is not yet concluded. However they still submitted a report, and we were delighted to hear of some very pro-active ideas for measures that could improve diversity among our approved candidates. We look forward to more concrete suggestions once the team leader is in place.

Then we came to the largest agenda item, the idea of a registered supporters scheme.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Cunning plan needed

The British cabinet is preparing to retire to Chequers for a country weekend of Pimms, strawberries and footie and tennis on the telly. There may even be some croquet on the prime ministerial lawn and perhaps late night bridge in the drawing room.

Miss Marple and/or Hercule Poirot, however, should be on hand for a rapid intervention. The likelihood of blood on the vintage Axminster is high.

The stated purpose of the meeting is to finally reach an agreement on the British negotiating position for Brexit negotiations. Will they agree? Unlikely. The Brexiteers red lines are finally hitting the brick wall of reality. A growing coalition of business, trade unions and a hard-nosed Treasury are blocking Boris and Co at every turning.

However, they can’t back down. That would be political suicide. On the other hand, the Brexiteers can’t play their trump card and resign in protest. That would collapse the government and result in an election win for a left-wing Labour administration.

Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have devised a compromise solution which Downing Street sources say is “the best of both worlds.” Both Brexiteers and EU negotiators have dismissed it as the “worst of all worlds,”

So the likely result of the coming make or break weekend is a fudge falsely portrayed as a breakthrough. In short, more shambles with the likely final result of a no deal Brexit with all the nightmarish consequences that entails.

Of course, this exponentially increases the chances of a second referendum. The problem is that the Remainers are almost every bit as clueless about Britain’s national direction as the Brexiteers.  Other than saying they want a second referendum on Brexit with the implied aim of a reversal of the 2016 vote, they have offered no clear alternative set of policies.

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Lib Dem GAIN Council seat in Bath and North East Somerset

Good news from the West Country.

Congratulations to Cllr Sue Craig and her team.

It wasn’t a good night for the Conservatives as they lost a seat to Labour in Lichfield too – and we got 6.6% of the vote in a ward where we didn’t put up a candidate the last time.

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Happy Anniversary!

Embed from Getty Images

It’s hot, and our regular supply of posts from you, dear readers, seems to have melted away. But we can’t let today go by without acknowledging the 70th Anniversary of the NHS.

Of course, we can’t do it justice in a short piece, but we can be proud that, for all its faults, we do still have a system that is not only valued at home but also admired by other countries. Indeed, many nations now have systems of health care which are universal and free at the point of delivery, even if they differ in the methods used to achieve that.

Yes, of course there are anomalies in the NHS – dental care and prescriptions are often not free, social care is still not integrated properly with medical care, treatment is rationed by Clinical Commissioning Groups, too many services are outsourced.

But what has always astonished me is the fact that this blatantly socialist project, vilified by many at the time (including the majority of doctors), is now seen as an essential component of British life by people from across the political spectrum. And what saddens me is that the American right still don’t understand why we love it, and have dismantled the progressive systems that Obama carefully constructed.

The challenge over the last 70 years has been for the NHS to keep in step both with research and with societal changes, and that challenge will go with it into the future.

So it is appropriate that Vince Cable has chosen today to highlight quite a niche subject – access to fertility treatment for female couples.  He has written to Sir Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, about ‘shared motherhood’. This is a treatment that involves one partner donating an egg which is then carried by the other partner, so that both women are physically involved. At the moment it is only available privately at a cost of £6000 per cycle.

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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.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 15 Comments

Lib Dems force action on empty houses

Research by Liberal Democrats in 2018 identified over 11,000 homes that were empty for over ten years. Vince Cable called it a “national scandal”, at a time when “the homelessness crisis is worsening”. Statistics also show that across the country houses empty for six months or more equate to more than 200,000.

Every now and then we have governments making promises to do something about this, but in practice, they have done little to tackle this problem. MP’s reported, last year, that more than 78,000 families were living in temporary accommodation in England alone.

The Liberal Democrats have taken the lead on this. They have today claimed victory as the Conservative government bowed to pressure to take decisive action on empty houses, by giving new tax powers for councils.

The government has accepted the principle of an amendment from Lib Dem Peers (Baroness Pinnock and Lord Shipley) to set in place an escalator of council tax charges. This would mean that the longer a property was left empty, the more council tax would have to be paid.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

YouGov Polls

Since the Brexit referendum media and politics seems to have turned anti-European but it seems that the public opinion is slowing starting to shift towards being more pro-European. There is increasingly despair among the public about the lack of leadership and success with the Brexit negotiations. Two years on from the referendum vote and we really don’t know where we will be and what will be agreed over the next 5 months. A YouGov poll has consistently found that about two thirds of those polled feel the negotiations are going badly.

Below I have collected a number of YouGov polls around Brexit. They make for interesting reading.

Surprisingly, a recent YouGov poll found that 31 percent of Tories say the government’s Brexit decision is wrong. This compares with 73 percent of Labour voters and 83 percent of Lib Dem voters. Because some voters think that the government now has a duty to implement the referendum 30 percent of Remainers want the government to go ahead with Brexit. Although, those who were undecided, during the referendum, are beginning to gradually favour staying in the EU.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 39 Comments

The D66 version of Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls” in Brexit Days

Today, Dutch VVD (NatLib; car driver-liberal) prime minister Mark Rutte, the only statesman who while visiting Donald Trump in his Oval Office dared interrupt a Trump rant against the EU during the press & photo-op moment, is receiving British Prime Minister Theresa May in the garden of the Catshuis, the The Hague meeting point and residence of Dutch coalition cabinets.

At the same time, D66, the Dutch version of the Lib Dem Social Liberals, is publishing a Facebook video of the visit Kees Verhoeven MP, our EU/Brexit and ICT/Privacy parliamentary spokesman, recently made to the doorstep of Downing Street 10; another coalition residence (since 2010 and 2017…).

Like a famous Bob Dylan video, Kees has a stack of large pieces of paper in his hands, which while he peels away one paper at a time, form a clear message from Dutch Remain supporters of al hues (but most of all: us D66 activists) to Mrs May, her squabbling Cabinet (including Heathrow Commons vote deserters), and Brexiteers everywhere, including those being investigated by the FBI Special Counsel for illegal Putin-Trump connections and Cambridge Analytica Fake News manipulation.

Like the bookseller said to Saint Augustine: “Tolle, Lege”; read and take on board, take with you as you continue on your way…

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 24 Comments

Cabinet Playing Whiff-Whaff with Theresa May

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians passed on through generations, says that “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

Ministers are under pressure to spell out the type of relationship we should have with the European Union. The crunch summit at Chequers is for the Tories to settle their differences although they are strong views on both sides, this Tory summit is supposed to provide an agreed way forward. Michael Gove has alleged ripped up a document that explained the customs partnership proposed by Number 10. The Defence Secretary has told his department that if he doesn’t get the £20 billion he is asking for he will remove the Prime Minister (PM) as he made her, he can break her. The MoD budget for 2016/17 was £35.3bn, and because of the weak position of the PM we now have the US Defence Secretary, James Mattis, warning us that France would replace the UK as America’s closest ally in Europe if we don’t increase our defence spending. Moreover, then there is Boris with his bog roll comment and even worse his inflammatory private and a rather coarse dismissal of business concerns about Brexit.

The PM is getting bullied. How can we have a deal when groups within Cabinet are pulling in a different direction and believe they will achieve their objectives without any fear of consequence. Power is perceived and not something that’s tangible, a loss of that perception leaves the PM in a very vulnerable position and makes it very difficult for her to pursue an agenda and therefore lead. Talk about being pushed from pillar to post.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

US needs a birthday present 

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called on the Conservative Government to give the American people a “proper birthday present” by standing up to President Trump on human rights.

Ms Jardine made her plea as the US celebrates Independence Day on the 4th of July. The Liberal Democrat MP wants the Conservative Government to use President Trump’s visit to the UK next Friday to “promote the shared values between British and American people” and “condemn Trump’s treatment of migrant families and his comments on torture.”

Ms Jardine said: 

“The British and American people have a long history of shared values. Among the

Posted in LDVUSA, News and Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Party statement on data breach

Yesterday, some party members received an email from the Party’s Chief Executive, Nick Harvey, which told them that there had been a data breach at a company used by the party in connection with a recent members’ survey.

Here’s Nick’s statement on the issue:

One of our suppliers, Typeform, informed us that on 3rd May 2018 they suffered a data breach, which they subsequently discovered on 27th June and notified us shortly afterwards.

Data from Liberal Democrat members was among the data affected. You will have received an email if your data was affected.

Typeform have informed us that an external hacker managed to

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Let’s not be the radical party

I find the word “radical” increasingly difficult nowadays. It has become a shibboleth. Whatever is being pitched has to be framed as radical. And everybody knows exactly what it means and says so with great authority. The trouble is that the next person will, with equally great authority, give it a different meaning.

And also, it doesn’t tell us anything about the liberalness of the policies being proposed. I think most people will agree that Iain Duncan Smith’s approach to welfare benefits was radical. But I don’t think any liberal wants a policy that vindictive. (Or that incompetent.)

When you look at the things we are in favour of, many of them are not radical at all.

Posted in Op-eds | 76 Comments

We need to make it easier to move

We are all aware of the issues surrounding property in the UK. According to the Resolution Foundation, as many as one third of millennials will be renting from cradle to grave. This is a serious problem that no party has ever really got to grips with.

When Labour were in Government, house building was one of the fewer policy areas that didn’t get much attention. All of the attention was on reforming public services, especially post-2001, rather than on housing.

Under the Conservative’s we have seen the introduction of initiatives aimed at helping people get onto the housing ladder. These include Help To Buy and the Lifetime ISA. However, we need to go further to improve the housing market.

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

Tories claim credit for EU Directive giving greater rights to holidaymakers.

So the Scottish and Northern Irish schools have broken up and people are starting to head for the sun. Although, to be honest, they might as well have stayed at home this year. I’ll bet you by the time I head to the Highlands at the end of August, the weather will have well and truly broken.

Anyway, I digress. Anyone heading on a package holiday will have greater rights today. This is not because of anything that the Tories have done, although they show they have the brassiest neck in the history of the universe by claiming credit for it.

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Why I became a Climate Reality Leader

For the past 15 years I have been a Liberal Democrat activist. I’ve been a local Party Secretary and Chair, fought local, Scottish, Westminster and European elections (and various referendums) as a campaigner and candidate, most recently as a Highland Councillor and Parliamentary candidate for Ross, Skye & Lochaber.

Following last years election I took some time out to reappraise my goals. There are a lot of areas for concern in the world but the question was where can I make a difference and what am I passionate about.

I concluded that I’m passionate about making things better …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Bringing your spouse to live in the UK shouldn’t be this stressful

As I write this, I haven’t seen my wife for six months. We have been kept apart unlawfully, me here in the UK and her stranded in South Korea, following a Home Office error which saw her denied entry into the UK for ten years. Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy in action.

Our story is a simple one; I moved to Korea to teach English in 2013, I met Seulgi there where she worked as a bar manager, and we fell in love. I proposed on a cloudy mountaintop in 2017 …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Options to Remain

An option to remain in the EU is an essential part of any people’s vote. But should it be just one option? That immediately creates a disadvantage compared to the Brexiters, who habitually have at least two options on the table – for example, a negotiated settlement or leaving with no deal.

On the surface of it, a 3-way vote might seem workable:

  • Remain in the EU
  • Accent the negotiated settlement
  • Leave with no deal

Indeed, some might argue this would favour Remain, since the Leave vote would be split. If the alterative voting system …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 50 Comments

Welcome to my day: 2 July 2018 – hot, sexy liberalism?

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling today. Despite being half-Indian, I really rather prefer temperatures in the lower twenties Celsius. But as the burning sun beats down on most of us, Liberal Democrat Voice does not rest.

As the Government staggers from one attack from within to the next, and as senior Ministers overtly start their campaigns to replace Theresa May, what are Liberal Democrats to do? We’ve got a contribution which offers an interesting perspective on that from James Porter.

If there is a people’s vote, what should we want to see on the ballot paper? John King has been thinking about …

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