Tag Archives: asylum seekers

…and we’re back in the hall!

Tim Farron makes the first policy speech of conference this morning

The first policy speech of the first in-person autumn conference since 2019 brought a smile to my face and very positively answered the question “What is Tim Farron for?”

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Titan submarine, Channel crossing and the Borders and Nationality Bill

I am an early bird. I usually wake up around 6am each day and without a need for caffeine, I am able to switch on my laptop and work almost immediately. My morning routine includes a cup of tea and … BBC Breakfast. Laptop on, TV on and I am ready to crack on!

In recent weeks, many of us were following closely a story of the missing submarine, Titan. It has dominated our screen for quite some time. I often wondered why are we so “obsessed” with it? Is it because it relates directly to the tragic story of the Titanic? Is it because we, as humans, like to push and challenge ourselves, explore areas of the planet, oceans, which seem to be unreachable? Or was it because of the social and financial status of individuals who tragically died?

One morning, as I was sitting in my living room, my wife made an interesting observation. The story of the Titan has captured the attention of the global audience. However, the story of a migrant boat that sank in Greek waters, almost the same week, has barely made the news, in comparison. Both stories have very different beginnings and yet, they both have the same end. The boat in Greece was overloaded, full of people, who were fleeing war, poverty and prosecution. The Titan looks small and tiny, however its passengers were billionaires with apparent “passion for exploration”. They each had to spend thousands of pounds to be part of that adventure. This was all happening during the Refugee Week, an initiative, which helps to address the challenges, promote and celebrate the achievements of refugees.

In recent weeks, months and years, the UK government has been quite “busy” dealing (or not) with the channel crossing. Only a year or so ago, MPs were debating the Borders and Nationality Bill, which has previously received a lot of media and political attention.

Quite recently, I came across a very interesting report produced by the Refugee Council. In the year ending June 2021, 37,235 people applied for asylum in the UK, a 4% decrease on the previous year. What has changed significantly is the method of traveling –  from freight transit to Channel boat crossing.

Most people would be aware that there are limited alternative ‘safe routes’ available for many of the top nationalities crossing the Channel. What is quite interesting, the UK did not resettle a single person from Kuwait, Yemen or Vietnam in the period January 2020 to May 2021 and only one person from Iran was resettled and Iranians are the top nationality for people crossing the Channel.

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1-2 April 2023 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Water company fines: Pointless whilst it remains legal to dump sewage into swimming waters
  • Braverman pushes botched Rwanda scheme while queues pile up in Dover

Water company fines: Pointless whilst it remains legal to dump sewage into swimming waters

Responding to the Government re-announcing they will change the fine structure on water companies, Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron said:

This is pointless whilst it remains legal for water companies to dump sewage into swimming waters. It is a national scandal that water companies are allowed to pump sewage into our rivers and coastlines all because Ministers refuse to get tough with them.

Conservative MPs have blocked taking tougher action on water companies, and these new half-baked plans from Ministers will do nothing to deter water companies from their polluting actions.

Thérèse Coffey must now resign. She has had months in post with nothing but hot air and empty rhetoric. Under Coffey’s plan, sewage will be pumped into our rivers for decades to come. Shamefully, the Environment Secretary has refused to ban water companies rewarding themselves with multi-million pound bonuses. It is time we had an Environment Secretary who actually cared about the environment.

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13 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Lineker is back, Sharp must go
  • Liberal Democrats urge Conservative MPs to ‘examine their conscience’ ahead of Small Boats Bill vote

Lineker is back, Sharp must go

Responding to the news that Gary Lineker and the BBC have come to an agreement, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

Everyone will be pleased to see Gary Lineker and the football and sports coverage back to normal on the BBC next weekend.

However, given his ties to Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, and the scandal surrounding his appointment, the public simply cannot trust Richard Sharp to restore the BBC’s credibility.

Rishi Sunak must sack him

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Welcome to my day: 13 March 2023 – a Byrd in the hand?

This year sees the 400th anniversary of the death of William Byrd, one of this country’s great composers. As a Catholic myself, I am reminded that he converted to Catholicism in his thirties at some personal risk given the culture of the day. It is a reminder that state-sponsored attacks on minorities and other vulnerable people is not a new concept, and that the conservative right have never been afraid to secure power through the demonisation of others.

My colleague, writing about the Lineker saga over the weekend, said:

And of course what is particularly ironic is that Tory MPs, who are usually championing the right of people to be as racist, sexist and transphobic as they like in the name of free speech, are now going after Gary Lineker.

There is a perfectly obvious reason for this, which is that not only are these people hypocrites, but they don’t care that they contradict themselves over and over again. It’s all about stirring up anger and distracting attention from their failure and incompetence. Find the smelliest, deadest cat they can find and hurl its foul carcass on the table so that we’ll talk about that rather than stick to the issues that matter.

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8 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Braverman’s dangerous rhetoric trashes Britain’s proud legacy
  • Ed Davey raises deadly ambulance delays at PMQs
  • Suella Braverman: Lib Dems demand inquiry into potential breach of ministerial code
  • Steve Brine must stand down from Health Select Committee amid sleaze scandal

Braverman’s dangerous rhetoric trashes Britain’s proud legacy

Responding to comments made by the Home Secretary this morning on the government’s small boats proposals, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Suella Braverman can’t even answer basic questions about her flawed, callous and inhumane policy.

To suggest that those who oppose these divisive plans are somehow betraying Britain is stooping to a new low. It is

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7 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak should rule out ever restoring Hancock’s Conservative whip
  • Small boats ‘vanity project’ bill trashes UK’s reputation

Sunak should rule out ever restoring Hancock’s Conservative whip

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Rishi Sunak to rule out ever restoring Matt Hancock’s Conservative Whip after the latest set of leaked WhatsApp messages. The messages show Hancock threatening to block a disability centre in a Conservative MP’s seat in an attempt to force him to vote for the new Covid tier system.

This is yet another shocking revelation from the Lockdown Files which raises even more concerns about Matt Hancock’s integrity and …

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4-5 March 2023 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Rail fare rise: Betrayal of commuters and families
  • Lockdown files: Matt Hancock’s attempt to fire SAGE scientist ‘shocking’
  • Small boat ban will punish victims of human trafficking

Rail fare rise: Betrayal of commuters and families

Responding to a rail fare increase of 5.9% due on Sunday, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fair deal for commuters and families who will be left forking out even more for train journeys in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

Ministers cannot keep turning a blind eye to these problems, especially given people are paying more for

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Humanitarian visas would end tragedies in the Channel

We are all shocked and saddened by yet another tragedy in the Channel, as those looking for sanctuary with us are drowned or had a terrifying experience not knowing if they will be rescued from an icy sea.

But as well as being upset by the tragedy, I am, yet again, angry with our Government’s response.  They sound sorry about it, but do not begin to understand the situation, think getting tough on traffickers will solve everything, along with putting those that do get here on a plane to Rwanda.  Their ideas are not only impractical but half baked and just a series of statements for the media.

Of course, we need to very quickly set up mechanisms for safe routes, although the UNHCR will be ready and waiting to implement.  But the reality is that very many of those in the camps on the north coast of Europe have spent months and years travelling across Europe through hazardous and dangerous conditions.  They aren’t going to suddenly return to their homeland because there is nobody to give them the only chance they have of reaching the UK where, for instance, they usually have relatives or friends, and they can speak the language.

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26-27 November 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Manston diphtheria scandal: Braverman must resign
  • Stealth Tax: Lib Dems propose law forcing Government to write to every taxpayer facing a tax rise

Manston diphtheria scandal: Braverman must resign

Responding to the Sunday Times report of 70 suspected cases of diphtheria among asylum seekers moved from the Manston facility as well as a suspected untreated gunshot wound, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said:

Liberal Democrats in the Commons and Lords have been questioning Ministers and repeatedly received assurances on the quality of healthcare for asylum seekers.



The UK is better than this. The Conservative Government should be ashamed of their callous complacency over

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We have positive answers on asylum issues – let us shout them out

There is no need to go into the detail of the current crisis in the asylum system. Everyone is talking about it but are the Lib Dems pushing and promoting our well thought out policies, agreed by the party, that have positive solutions?

After two policy papers that an enormous of work had gone into, we can talk honestly and with passion on the issues, but do we? Parliamentarians, policy units and members put in a lot of work, but was it worth bothering?

I alternated between shouting at the radio and despair on hearing Yvette Cooper on the Today programme yesterday morning. I have a lot of respect for her usually but she was refusing to commit to the right to work for asylum seekers, had little to say about safe routes for refugees, had no mention of humanitarian visas, and only vague swipes at the decision making process.

But where are our voices on these issues?

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23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Full Inquiry Needed into Gwent Police
  • Supreme Court decision: First year law student could have predicted this
  • Gambling: Conservative Inaction Leaving More People Vulnerable
  • Braverman is out of her depth

Full Inquiry Needed into Gwent Police

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for a full inquiry into misconduct in Gwent Police stating that the evidence that has come to light warrants a full independent investigation if trust in the Force is to be restored.

The Party has also questioned whether Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert, should still be in place.

Calls for a full inquiry come following an investigation by the Times that revealed a culture of misogyny, corruption, abuse and racism in the force.

Wiltshire Police Force is currently set to investigate the claims.

The latest scandal comes after three officers were dismissed from the Force over summer due to inappropriate behaviour. The Welsh Liberal Democrats had previously criticised how long this process took.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and the only female party leader in Wales, Jane Dodds MS said:

Trust in the Force has clearly been undermined to a point where a full independent inquiry is required.

The failure to tackle this appalling behaviour on the part of some officers is failing the public and the majority of brave police who put their lives at risk to keep us all safe.

What has been revealed over the course of the last few weeks is deeply disturbing.

It has also not yet been made clear whether Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert was aware of any of these allegations before the story broke in the Times. If not, how was he able to oversee a Force with such serious problems without being aware?

It is difficult to see how he should remain in post.

With allegations of serious misconduct in a multitude of police forces, including the Met, I do not believe an investigation by another police force is sufficient.

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3 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country
  • Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary
  • Elin Jones Wrong to Defend Mark Drakeford’s Qatar Trip Say Lib Dems
  • Number of GPs and GP Practices in Wales Fall
  • Interest rates: Chancellor must address the country with a plan to save homeowners
  • Davey: Recession warning a “badge of shame” for Rishi Sunak and Conservative government

Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country

Commenting ahead of today’s interest rate decision from the Bank of England, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Chancellor must address the country immediately after the rate rise decision to spell out a plan to save homeowners on the brink. He should either come to Parliament or hold a press conference to announce support for families facing mortgage bill rises worth hundreds of pounds a month.

Hardworking families are being left to pay the price for weeks of Conservative chaos. People are desperately worried about how they are going to pay these frightening mortgage payments after tomorrow.

The Government cannot hide away, especially after their long list of economic failures.

Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary

The Liberal Democrats have warned that Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “failing in her duty” as Home Secretary, after reports asylum seekers have been left stranded in central London by the Home Office.

It comes after Robert Jenrick emphasised last night on ITV’s Peston that the Home Secretary has a duty not to release asylum seekers into destitution.

Suella Braverman also assured Parliament on Monday that she had refused to release people into local communities “without having anywhere for them to stay”.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Asylum seekers being abandoned with no place to stay in central London is the most blatant sign that the system is completely broken.

Suella Braverman is failing in her basic duty as Home Secretary. She needs to urgently explain how this has been allowed to happen, despite the assurances given to Parliament earlier this week.

It’s intolerable that vulnerable people are being left without help because of the endless chaos and incompetence of this government.

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Priti Patel’s new asylum strategy – wrong in every sense

The announcement that the Home Secretary has finalised an “economic development and migration agreement” with Rwanda, whilst not necessarily a surprise, is a reminder that Government policy is now to make the seeking of asylum in the United Kingdom as difficult and unpleasant as possible, regardless of the cost.

The idea is that asylum seekers will be initially processed at a base in the United Kingdom, before being flown to Rwanda and “warehoused” there whilst their application is considered. That is, perhaps not everybody, as The Times is suggesting that only male asylum seekers would be sent. But the devil is not in the details.

There is a precedent for such treatment – the Australian Government took a similar approach, offshoring asylum processing to Nauru and Christmas Island. It was a disaster, with horror stories of abuse, suicide and, at the end of it all, most applicants were approved. The cost? £5,277… per day.

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Our nation should hang its head in shame over Rwanda refugee plans

I cannot believe the depths to which our nation has sunk. We have a government led by a liar and by ministers and civil servants being handed out fines for breaking their own laws. We have a government that slaps tax increases on struggling people and refuses to raise benefits to the level people need to survive. Food banks, once few and far between, and now ubiquitous and essential for good health and survival of many families. And we have a government that is planning to fly migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing.

It is almost impossible to see any humanitarianism in this government’s attitude towards refugees crossing the channel to a country they dream of as a safe haven. Instead of tackling the people smugglers who have been responsible for hundreds of deaths in the same way we tackle terrorists, our government is taking aim at vulnerable people desperate for new lives.

Priti Patel is in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, today to sign the “migration and economic development partnership” this morning. This is low moment for our country that I have always believed had humanity in its national heart.

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Farron: Nationality and Borders Bill worst legislation I’ve seen in 17 years

In a passionate speech in the House of Commons yesterday, Tim Farron condemned the Nationality and Borders Bill saying it is based on a bogus premise, that we are swamped by asylum seekers. He slammed the “utterly bogus, completely contrived and arbitrary notion” that asylum seekers should be treated if they got here by illegal routes.

Farron asked why are we not granting asylum seekers the right to work? He said if MPs vote for this Bill, “they are voting for deaths in the channel”. People come here not because of the pull factor, but because of the push factor and …

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22 March 2022 – today’s press releases

  • HMICFRS report: Met police needs new leadership not stitch up by Johnson and Patel
  • Oligarch ditches UK mansions after government sanctions delay
  • Nationality and Borders Bill: A traffickers’ charter that will cause deaths in the Channel
  • Patel must stop her assault on British rights and freedoms

HMICFRS report: Met police needs new leadership not stitch up by Johnson and Patel

Responding to the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) into corruption in the Met Police and the case of Daniel Morgan, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This shocking report lays bare the ingrained culture of corruption and cover-up at the top of the Met. Police officers put themselves at risk every day to keep us safe, but they are being let down by poor leadership.

The Met urgently needs strong new leadership. Choosing the new Commissioner is too important to be a stitch up between Priti Patel and Boris Johnson – especially when Johnson is under criminal investigation by the Met himself.

The next Commissioner must be someone who will shake things up and stand up to government ministers – and that’s someone Johnson and Patel will never choose.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party confirmation vote by both Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee and London’s Police and Crime Committee, to stop the Government stitching up this crucial appointment.

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Farron: Nationality and Borders Bill impact on LGBTQ+ refugees

While the main attention in parliament yesterday was on tributes to Jack Dromey and Michael Gove’s statement on Levelling Up, an important debate also took place in Westminster Hall. Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam had secured a debate on the impact of the Nationality and Borders Bill on LGBTQ+ asylum seekers l. Tim Farron made a major and passionate contribution to the debate. It is notable that no Conservative MPs spoke during the debate.

Farron described the Nationality and Borders Bill as a peculiarly awful piece of legislation that is designed to solve problems that do not exist and to ignore problems that do. It is playing to the gallery rather than seeking to make a difference. The negative impact the Bill will have on LGBTQ+ asylum seekers is a prime example of what is wrong with it.

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Channel crossings and the Borders and Nationality Bill

In recent weeks, the UK government has been quite “busy” dealing with a number of national scandals. It is possible that many of us might have forgotten that at the moment, MPs are debating the Borders and Nationality Bill, which has previously received a lot of media and political attention.

In the last few days, I found a very interesting report produced by the Refugee Council. The latest official statistics show that in the year ending June 2021, 37,235 people applied for asylum in the UK, 4% decrease on the previous year. What has changed significantly is the method of traveling; from freight transit to Channel boat crossing.

So, what are the key findings of the report?

  • 70% of the total people number of people arriving to the UK via small boats, from January 2020 to May 2020, 12,195 people in total, came only from 5 countries of origin: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Vietnam
  • Iranian nationals accounted for 26% of all arrivals
  • On average, 98% of people who arrive after crossing the channel in a small boat make a claim for asylum
  • Over 91% of the total small boat arrivals (11,123 people) came from just ten countries of origin including Afghanistan, the 7th highest nationality of all small boat arrivals.
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We need to respect asylum seekers’ choice of a new home, and streamline access to safe routes

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It is quite easy to over-simplify the situation asylum seekers face. Learning from my foster child’s personal experience, I can see that complex nature, which I would never learn from my years of psychology training. Understanding refugees takes a combined effort from Westminster and the public to be in touch with the hearts and minds of the thousands fleeing to our shores.

We must accept refugees realise life challenges await in their chosen refuge even before they set off. Strange as it may sound, “a better place to live” is not the pulling factor for sanctuary. I realise my foster child is extremely perplexed each time one of her friends back home has a day in court. Self-isolating then dwells within the mind. It is why asylum seekers will try whatever means necessary to arrive at a country where they share distant relatives or a similar culture or simply an unexplainable innate feeling that they can become accustomed to the new place.

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Johnson twitters while migrants drown in the Channel

How did it come this? Tens of migrants drowning in the Channel. There is a sense of inhumanity about current events. A sense of unreality. A sense that the horrors of humanity at its worst is lapping up on the shores of the Channel. Alive. But often dead.

There is a sense of unreality about our government’s response. And that of the French leadership.

This is people’s lives. People escaping the horrors of conflict and political suppression. People who want their children to go to school. People who want to set up thriving businesses. People who want to pay their way.

Instead, some of them drown. Their dreams of a better life destroyed by exploitation of modern day smugglers. Not smuggling contraband but smuggling people. There are many echoes of this from our colonial past but this a current emergency, not something you can look up in the index of a history book.

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Human rights campaigning wins in Ireland in the end

At the All Party Parliamentary Group for refugees Nick Henderson from the Irish Refugee Council told us about the “Direct Provision” Accommodation Centres in the Irish Republic.

Asylum Seekers live in these privately run Accommodation Centres whilst their case is being assessed.  They were originally meant for short stays when started in 2001, but are now used for much longer one’s and the median stay is 27 months.  Around 7,000 people are currently housed like this.

Those housed there have little privacy, no cooking facilities, and they are excluded from any community life.  Nearly 2,000 are sharing bedrooms with people they are not related to.  Guardians who manage it appear to have oversight of children from families in there, which causes a lot of problems for the future as well as present.

The Centres are very expensive to run and there has been a lot of opposition to them from Human Rights groups since they were started in 2001.  The system could not be amended to be done better, but needed to be replaced.  One woman said that dignity, independence and freedom had been taken from her and her children had lost their self-confidence.

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Suzanne Fletcher on her lifelong mission to speak up for the most vulnerable people

Suzanne Fletcher is one of the hardest working, humanitarian, compassionate people I have ever known. She has devoted her life improve living conditions for the poorest people with the least power.

Her local paper, the Darlington and Stockton Times, has done a wonderful profile of her as part of their series of features inspired by Middlesborugh Soroptimists’ list of outstanding local women.

Suzanne talked of her own experience of poor housing when she was small:

“We lived in an awful place, near the slag heaps,” says Suzanne. “It was difficult and dangerous as there was so much pollution in the air. Coal gas came up through the cellar, our plants died, as did my pet mouse, and the curtains rotted. My mother and father were both hardworking and did their best to keep everything clean, but when we complained the authorities didn’t listen. They considered our living conditions to be fine.

“The noise and swearing from the police cells at night kept us awake. My mother would prepare meals for the prisoners. They were sometimes sent back uneaten, but she was determined they would be treated with dignity.”

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Lord Rogers Roberts: The Napier Barracks scandal

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A couple of weeks ago, the BBC reported that the High Court had ruled that the Home Office’s decision to house cross-channel migrants in a “squalid” barracks in Folkestone was unlawful.

Six asylum seekers brought the case, claiming Napier Barracks was “unsafe” and dormitory use caused a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year.

The ruling could see a damages claim against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The Home Office said use of the barracks would continue, and it was considering its “next steps”.

This report is so different from the assurances  by the government.

In answer to a question that I asked on January 29 Baroness Williams, home office minister in the Lords, justified the use of Napier Barracks – built 1794 – for Asylum Seekers. She wrote:

Following a review of available government property, the Ministry of Defence agreed to temporarily hand over two of their sites: the Penally Training Camp in Pembrokeshire and the Napier Barracks in Kent.

These sites were both suitable and immediately available to be used to house asylum seekers.

The accommodation, which until recently was used by the MOD is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards contractual requirements.

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A Radical New Policy: Humanitarian Visas: a life-line for refugees

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With ever increasingly dangerous journeys, and increasingly restrictive measures against refugees to prevent them accessing asylum, the Liberal Democrats have taken the lead in adopting a radical new proposal: humanitarian visas for refugees to travel safely and legally to find the safety they deserve in the UK.

‘Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries freedom from persecution’, says Article 14 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. There is no such thing as an illegal asylum-seeker: only asylum seekers lacking legal routes to safety. But how can you get safely and legally to other countries?  Well, if you are British, your passport gives you visa-free access on arrival to 132 countries, and nearly all others will grant you a visa on application. But if you are Afghani, Iraqi, Iranian, or Syrian there is no such possibility.

In the year to March 2020, 35,000 people applied for asylum in the UK: virtually all of them had to enter irregularly – smuggled in lorries, crossing the channel in small boats, or using forged documentation. Ask yourself: why would a Darfuri escaping war-torn Sudan have to forge their passport to get on a plane from Khartoum to London? Why would an Eritrean in Calais pay thousands of pounds to traffickers, risking their lives by travelling in unseaworthy boats to reunite with their family in the UK, rather than board a Eurostar for £50? The answer is clear: if either of them attempted to use their national documents, they will be denied boarding.

Less than 1 percent of the world’s refugees are resettled. Most refugees are forced to risk their life and limb on perilous journeys, enduring extensive human rights violations on the way, to claim their human right to asylum. Many of those who made it to Calais have gone to dangerous lengths to reach adequate safety, running from Turkish border guards with a shoot to kill policy, walking the channel tunnel for 30 miles avoiding the speeding trains, suffering abuse and violence from police and border officials, cramming onto small unsafe dinghies to cross the channel, and losing their loved ones on the way, all to try and find safety.

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1 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • PM mistaken in thinking he can break the law without consequence
  • Tories’ nasty plans for asylum seekers not the answer

PM mistaken in thinking he can break the law without consequence

Responding to reports that the European Commission has launched legal action against the UK, following the UK Government’s refusal to remove sections from the Internal Market Bill, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Contrary to the belief of senior Government figures and their families, breaking the law has consequences. It beggars belief that Boris Johnson and his Government seem to think that not only are they above the law, but they can get off scot-free when breaking it.

How can Ministers seriously condemn other countries, like Russia and China, for failing to respect international treaties if they don’t do the same when it comes to the Withdrawal Agreement?

No one should be surprised that the UK will face legal action if Boris Johnson pushes ahead with the Internal Market Bill. However, there is still time to ditch the Bill and prevent it from becoming law. We must do what we can to salvage our international reputation.

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Refugees are not our enemy – thoughts on Priti Patel’s remarks


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Around 4,000 migrants have crossed the channel from France in small boats this year. For context, 105,425 migrants crossed the Mediterranean sea to Southern European countries such as Italy and Greece last year. The overwhelming majority of refugees find sanctuary in the country neighbouring their own. Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Uganda are amongst the host countries for the majority of refugees.

Refugees are under no legal obligation to claim asylum in the first safe country they land in. All refugees have a legitimate claim to asylum in any safe country if they are still at risk of persecution in their country of origin. There are just no legal routes to seek refuge in the UK. Seeking asylum should not be a crime.

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8 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Empty pharma stockpiles show govt must rethink transition extension
  • Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%
  • Derisory increase in asylum support is appalling
  • Testing announcement shows protective ring around care homes claim untrue
  • Rees-Mogg must follow through on promises to look at voting rights for carers

Empty pharma stockpiles show govt must rethink transition extension

Responding to reports that No Deal Brexit stockpiles “significantly reduced and/or used up entirely” by Covid pandemic, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

These reports show the recklessness of the government’s approach to Brexit negotiations and protecting our economy and NHS.

The stockpiles created to protect against the risk of a no deal Brexit have now been used up, and building them back up to safe levels by the end of the year is going to be very difficult.

So by pushing the UK into a no deal Brexit the Conservatives could be putting more lives and more jobs at risk.

The calls to extend the transition period have come from people who voted leave and remain a like. The government must put national interest ahead of Brexit ideology and extend the transition period.

Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reacted with shock at the situation of Covid-19 in Welsh Prisons, after new figures reveal an infection rate of more than 20% for inmates.

Figures published by the UK Department for Justice have shown that Wales has 165 recorded cases of Covid-19 within prisons. This represents 12.4% of cases across England & Wales, with 1,329 total cases being logged – 882 Staff, 447 Prisoners.

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Lib Dems call for young refugees to have equal access to education

Senior Lib Dems have backed a call from newly elected Lib Dem Councillor Anton Georgiou for young refugees to be given computer equipment and support to enable them to access education during the pandemic.

Lib Dems at all levels, from MPs to Councillors, to London mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita and London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, LDCRE Chair Roderick Lynch and Cllr Rabina Khan supported the initiative and signed Anton’s letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Upon investigating Cllr Georgiou found that while some vulnerable school pupils will be receiving free computer equipment to assist them with home learning, young refugee children and students learning English have so far been excluded from this much needed support.

Organisations like Young Roots, Refugee Support Network are concerned that these vulnerable young people will fall even further behind and not be able to keep up with their classmates.

In urging the Government to expand the support required, Anton highlights the excellent work being carried out by organisations like SocialBox.Biz, who are leading the way with initiatives like ‘Laptops for the Homeless and Vulnerable’.

Anton said:

Good education is a crucial stepping stone to allow young people to achieve their full potential. In the present crisis we must do everything possible to support young and vulnerable people to get access to the necessary equipment to enable them to continue with their education and contribute to our community.

Everyone deserves access to the tools to enable them to achieve their potential.

The text of the letter in full is below:

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21 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

And if you thought that yesterday was intense…

  • Lib Dems: Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery
  • Govt must reimburse missed tuition to student nurses called up to the frontline
  • 51,906 asylum seekers trapped on just £5.39 a day during coronavirus crisis
  • EU Settled Status deadline must be scrapped, as grants crater during coronavirus crisis
  • New stats show damaging impact of Priti Patel’s nasty immigration rhetoric

Lib Dems: Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their calls for local authorities to be empowered to enact measures that would help tackle the climate emergency as well as recover from the coronavirus crisis.

The cross-party letter sent to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick states “we cannot simply return ‘back to normal’” and that “tackling the climate emergency is at the heart of our recovery”.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Energy and the Environment Wera Hobhouse initiated the letter, putting forward measures that include incentivising councils to support sustainable travel, revitalising high streets and allowing local authorities to close streets to traffic at allocated times.

Following the letter, Wera Hobhouse said:

We cannot return to ‘normal’ following the Covid-19 crisis. The measures introduced by the Transport Secretary to promote the use of sustainable transport are welcome, but without cross departmental buy-in they will fail to have a lasting impact on how we travel.

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