Tag Archives: brexit

15 December 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government’s failure to secure land at Holyhead for border checks is a shocking show of unpreparedness say Welsh Lib Dems
  • Labour’s failure to stand up for Wales and devolution in key amendment during Internal Market Bill is shocking say Welsh Lib Dems

Government’s failure to secure land at Holyhead for border checks is a shocking show of unpreparedness say Welsh Lib Dems

With just 16 days until the end of the transition period the UK Government has admitted it has failed to secure land at Holyhead to carry out the extra checks on vehicles entering the country leading to fears of gridlock in the area.

In answer to a question from Lib Dem Peer Roger Roberts the UK Government admitted that “No land has yet been purchased two potential sites have been identified in partnership with the Welsh Government and commercial discussions are under way.”

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EU Trade Deal: there are no good options left

European and British flags.

I hate 13th December. I really, really do.

On this day in 1984, my Grandma died, way too soon, at the age of 64. I still miss her.

And last year, in the early hours, any hope of avoiding Brexit evaporated as Boris Johnson got a majority that could have enabled him to govern with more wisdom and flexibility from the constraints of the reckless extremes of his party. He chose not to take that chance.

On top of it all, we lost Jo. I’m still not over that. She remains one of the most exceptionally talented people I have ever known. She’s proof that the best people don’t always win in politics.

An election once Jo had had the time to establish herself would, I suspect, have had a very different result.

We are where we are though. And it isn’t fun. 2020 has not excelled itself. A couple of bright spots – the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, to be confirmed by the Electoral College tomorrow, the development of effective vaccines against Covid have not lifted the gloom by much.

Now the dreaded 13th December is the day we enter the final stage of the Brexit drama.

Whatever emerges from the EU negotiations over the next hours is going to be far from good. We’re looking at a catastrophic no deal or a damaging fig leaf of a deal that will hurt our businesses and cost people their jobs and homes. Let’s be clear. The Government is choosing this path. It had better options open to it. When we were gripped in the first wave of Covid, they could have done the responsible thing and requested an extension to the transition period. We’d have voted for it, so would the SNP. Labour probably would and the EU would almost certainly have granted it. The more excitable ERG types on the Conservative benches would have made a lot of noise, but we would have bought ourselves some time and stability.

I’ve always thought that the Brexit agenda was mostly about turning our economy into a low regulation, rights-free zone. This is why they are so resistant to any future improvements in things like environmental standards or workers’ rights. They dress it up as sovereignty, but it’s an oligarch’s charter really.

They manipulated people’s feeling of powerlessness with false promises of taking back control. The truth is that those people at the sharp end, the lowest paid and most vulnerable, will have less control than they had before.

There should be no problem with accepting the EU’s reasonable level playing field requirement in the trade deal. I doubt that there will be any major changes within the next few years anyway. These things take time to get through and would take even longer to actually come into force. If there were any changes, we could debate them and decide whether to accept them or take the consequences.

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Observations of an expat: Looking foolish

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Everyone hates to look foolish. To avoid this hugely embarrassing peril they will often go to great lengths ranging from self-deception to conspiracy theories to lies.

And the greater the personal investment in an untenable position the more difficult it is for the investor to change direction and face the chorus of “I told you so’s.”

Two of the most prominent examples of this foolishness are Brexit and Donald Trump. Millions of intelligent Americans have invested their political heart and soul in the Cult of Trump. They cannot comprehend the possibility of his losing the November presidential election. Therefore, their leader must be the victim of a massive fraud.

The numerous election officials – Republican and Democrat – who consistently maintain that the vote was the fairest in American history are evil participants in a Deep State conspiracy. They are in an unholy league with the courts that have repeatedly dismissed the Trump campaign claims of election chicanery.

The fact-filled brick wall that Trump supporters have bumped up against has led some of them to call for dangerously extreme measures. Pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has, for instance, called on President Trump to suspend the constitution, cancel the election result, declare martial law and then use the military to oversee fresh elections.

Britain’s Brexiteers are faring equally badly, although in a different way.

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A Europe policy for the Scottish elections: a humble suggestion

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I must begin with a disclaimer. I am not Scottish, I have no Scottish blood that I know of, and I have never lived in Scotland (the “Mc” in my surname is Irish, courtesy of a great-grandfather who left Galway in the Potato Famine and ended up in the Metropolitan Police). But I love Scotland. As a Lib Dem I campaigned in the 2014 referendum for Scotland to remain in the UK, and today I am as devastated as any Scot that we are leaving the European Union.

That certainly gives me no right to make any suggestion about what the people of Scotland should do at this juncture, so I float the following with due humility. It is an idea; it is not thought-through. If it is worth thinking about, there will be much devil and much detail to be grasped before it can be developed into a policy, but I throw it open for discussion in the party, north and south of the border.  Here goes.

In next year’s Scottish elections, we should campaign for Scotland to have the same status in the UK as Northern Ireland will have from 1 January 2021. It would mean Scotland remaining in the Single Market and having the same customs status as NI.

It would have the following advantages:

  • it would be democratic (giving at least some weight to the Scottish vote in 2016 to remain in the EU);
  • it would also respect the 2014 Scottish referendum decision to remain in the UK;
  • it would end the new invisible border in the Irish Sea between NI and Scotland (although leaving it in place for England and Wales).
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How should Liberal Democrat MPs vote on any trade deal? Irina von Wiese and Humphrey Hawksley set out the options

We acknowledge the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party is not big enough to impact the vote on any Brexit deal and believe abstention is not an option. It would be seen as weak and give rise to attack from all sides. We do have opposing views on what the Yes or No vote should be, but we do have opposing views on what that vote should be. With whom do you agree?

Irina

Anything but a vote against would be a betrayal of our most loyal base and our core values.

Most vote for us because of our unapologetically pro-EU stance. This is the only thing that still distinguishes us from Labour. Voters remember backbones – Paddy Ashdown and Kosovo, Charles Kennedy and Iraq – and punish cave-ins – Nick Clegg and tuition fees. Only a vote against a Tory Brexit deal will show that we stand by our principles. We cannot endorse any form of Brexit.

A shambolic trade deal is not the ‘will of the people’.

We accept that a majority of people voted to leave the EU, but they never voted to leave the Single Market and Customs Union. Faced with the current situation, only 38% still think Brexit is a good idea. Whatever is agreed now will fall a long way short and cannot deliver what was promised in 2016.

A vote against ‘the deal’ is not a vote for ‘no deal’.

It is difficult to judge whether any deal short of a customs union will prove ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than no deal (WTO terms with the possibility for a trade deal in the future). Economically, a deal may mitigate the worst Brexit fallout but politically, it could be spun by Johnson’s propaganda machine as huge success and help him stay in power. ‘Whatever the verdict, given the Tory majority in the Commons, a LibDem vote against a deal will not bring about a ‘no deal’ result.

This vote is about standing by our principles. NO deal can be as good as the deal we had as full members of the EU. Now is not the time to give up on our principles, and our hopes for an eventual return to full membership.

Humphrey

Just about every British institution — parliament, the courts, the police and two general elections – has tested Brexit and it is happening. The Lib Dems have courageously opposed it and, yes, it is a bad thing. But the democratic process, which this Party signs up to, has delivered it.

A Brexit agreement represents far more than just more Tory lies and stitch up. Far more is at stake than bickering domestic party politics. Its impact is global. An agreement will be intricate and detailed. Twenty-seven other countries, whom we count among our allies, see it as the best way forward. A yes vote will be a vote for them, showing that we support limiting the damage that Brexit will cause to European lives, and that we support ensuring things can continue as well as can be in a bad situation.

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Forty years in the making

Liberal democracy is in crisis, particularly in the UK and the USA. In the UK we are perhaps bemused at how we could have come to elect such a corrupt, cronyistic and incompetent government, and in the USA there is much debate over how the Trump lump has not gone away despite four years of Trump’s Twitter tantrums.

There is a tendency to view this as a short term phenomenon – what went wrong four years ago, six years ago, even ten years ago. In my view this has been coming for forty years. It has not been inevitable but, during the neoliberal period (roughly from the 80s till today), social forces and personal decision making have moved us steadily towards the situation we now find ourselves in.

In a nutshell, the elevation to power of Thatcher and Reagan marked the start of what was seen to be a move towards freedom, opening up societies all over the world to the liberating forces of the market. This had two sides, globalisation, an ineluctable social force beyond the power of individuals to affect, and the strategy of global elites both old and new, to use globalisation to create new wealth and power for themselves. They have been very successful. So it turned out to be a move towards freedom for some, but by no means all. The elites used liberalism as their watchword, while ignoring the principle of liberalism that their freedom is only valid in so far as it does not compromise other people’s freedom.

At the same time there has been a steady corrosion of community and democratic values, partly because the new markets require it (they don’t work without precarious labour) and partly because of media elites who found that telling lies worked, and political elites who did not care to confront them. People sold on consumer capitalism found easy answers to all the ills in their lives in the lies told them by the media. Rupert Murdoch and Hugh Dacre, among others, spent decades preparing the British public for the Brexit lie. They have succeeded in making many people’s lives precarious and hoodwinking them into blaming others for that.

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Observations of an expat: Brexit – a fishy tale

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The Brexit deadline came, went, came again and went again. Both sides look foolish. Which means that if nothing, else, both sides desperately want an agreement and neither side wants to be the one that walks away from the table.

Fish appear to be the biggest sticking point.  And the two countries at loggerheads are traditional foes Britain and France.

Economically speaking, neither country’s fishing industry makes much of a contribution to the respective GDPs, although the French industry is almost three times the size of the British. But they both have well-organised community-based political lobbies, backed up by history, tradition and an overwhelming sense of injustice.

Up until the 1950s Britain had the world’s largest fishing industry, and its dominant position stretched centuries into the past.  William Pitt the Elder called cod “British Gold” and Victorian Grimsby was the world’s biggest fishing port. Overfishing, the loss of the Icelandic waters, the extension of exclusive economic zones and finally, the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), reduced the industry from whale to sprat. There are now 24,000 people employed in the British fishing business compared to 65,000 in the French.

The CFP was – is – a bad deal for British fishermen. This is mainly because it was negotiated on the basis of historic fish catches in the 1970s when the industry was still based on a distant water fleet and the British waters were left to a large degree to French, Belgian and Dutch fishermen.

British fishermen don’t expect a return to the glory days but they want the lion’s share of fish in the resource-rich British waters. Of the roughly 6.4 million tonnes of fish caught in EU waters in 2018, 7000,000 came from UK waters. The French want to hang on to what they’ve got.

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Party’s new European policy – reaffirming our values

For the past few months via numerous zoom calls and countless redrafts, I have been heavily involved in formulating the Europe motion that was debated at Conference and fully endorsed the party’s new policy which was adopted overwhelmingly and stated our long term commitment to membership of the European Union unequivocally, that we believe Brexit to be wrong and that the EU is the UK’s natural home. I know for some that position probably doesn’t go far or fast enough, but as hard as it is to say – as someone who spent the past five years trying to prevent …

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Brexit: Heading for Disaster or Brinkmanship? Part Two

The Irish Border was always going to be the stumbling block to BREXIT. Part of the problem is that the House of Commons is not representative as the 7 Sinn Fein MPs have not taken up their seats as it would mean them taking the oath of allegiance to the Queen. The people of Northern Ireland voted to “remain” whereas the 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs favour BREXIT. A border down the Irish Sea would not be acceptable to the DUP any more than a border in Ireland would be acceptable to Sinn Fein.

All parties agree that a “no-deal BREXIT” would be disastrous for the economy in that 44% of our exports go to Europe (with only 18% of Europe’s exports coming to Britain) and a further 20% of Britain’s exports go via trade agreements with Europe. Most of our food comes from Europe, and Spain in particular, and the World Trade Organisation Tariffs could add up to 10% to prices. No amount of trade deals around the world could compensate for the loss of trade with our nearest neighbours. The recent deal with Japan replicates the deal the UK already had with Japan via the EU.

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Brexit: Heading for Disaster or Brinkmanship? Part One

The Coronavirus possibly poses a greater threat to the human-race than did the second world war and the unleashing of nuclear bombs. The UK should have locked down earlier, worn masks earlier, had test and trace earlier, stopped admissions to care homes earlier, admitted people in care homes with symptoms to a hospital where they could have benefitted from oxygen, ventilators and intensive care. However, we are where we are and quite rightly when announcing further measures to combat Coronavirus (on Tuesday 22nd September) the Prime Minister put saving lives first (and I am delighted that people working in restaurants both in the kitchens and serving are to wear masks). Still, he also said he was keen to strike a balance in protecting the economy and jobs. Given that the Coronavirus is likely to trigger a world recession why then is he persevering with the “UK Internal Market Bill” which risks alienating our closest trading partners, undermining trust in the UK worldwide and scoring an own goal by inflicting untold harm on the economy with a potential no-deal BREXIT in January, whilst undermining the peace process in Ireland?

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Reflections on the Internal Market Bill and Boris Johnson’s cooking skills

The genesis of the “law breaking” part of the Internal Market Bill can be traced back to Theresa May’s actions as PM. The following words were said to Theresa May at the time by Sir Ivan Rogers, former British Ambassador to the EU. He reported his statement to her to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons:

You have made three commitments in good faith to different audiences, but they are not really compatible with each other.

You have said to the Irish… under no circumstances will a hard border be erected across the island of Ireland.

You have said to the Democratic Unionist community that under no circumstances will there be divergence from the rest of Great Britain.

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LISTEN: Christine Jardine on Any Questions challenges government on Brexit and Covid

In a week when Boris Johnson’s government has reached “give the toddler a box of matches and a can of petrol” levels of irresponsibility, Christine Jardine challenged Employment Minister Mims Davies on both their inept handling of Covid-19 and their “specific and limited” breach of international law. They were on the BBC’s Any Questions programme last night and you can listen to the whole thing here.

“This is a treaty that your government negotiated and got through Parliament and now you’re reneging on it. How is that responsible?” she asked Ms Davies.

Christine pointed out that the Government is out of control, its moral authority inside and outside the country is plummeting and that Brexit is descending into farce.

She also attached the government for ending the furlough scheme, which has kept so many jobs going, as early as next month, pointing out that other countries are extending them for much longer. She asked the Government to extend it until next June at least.

This week in her first  Commons speech in her new Treasury brief, she highlighted why this was so important:

Earlier, on Talk Radio, Christine asked how on earth we could attack Russia and China for their nonchalant attitude to international law when we were guilty of the same thing.

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Observations of an expat: Rogue Britain

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Britain is becoming a rogue state. In fact, it may already be one. The Johnson government’s threat to jettison the EU Withdrawal Bill negotiated last year and an alarming philosophy of “creative destruction” threatens to leave the UK dangerously isolated on the world stage.

This is bad for Britain and bad for the world.

The UK is one of the chief pillars of the post-war rule of international law which has underwritten the world’s longest period of relative peace and prosperity. Without these legal structures dictators are emboldened to embark without fear of serious reprisal on genocide, murder of political opponents, theft and even war.

The specific issue at stake is Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill which will be debated in Parliament on Monday.  Under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Bill which Johnson negotiated a year ago, there would be pretty much an open border between Northern Ireland and Eire, with a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The terms were unpopular and a major British concession a year ago. But they were agreed and became a legally-binding building block on which to construct a UK-EU trade deal. Talks for that deal are now deadlocked over fishing rights, legal jurisdiction and competition rules; and Boris fans say that the only way to overcome the impasse is by threatening to break the previous agreement.

The government is fully aware of that such a move is a breach of international law. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted as much. It was confirmed by the protest resignation of Sir Jonathan Jones, the government’s top legal adviser. But they don’t care. Boris Johnson is fixated on British withdrawal from the European Union on his terms. This blinkered policy put him in 10 Downing Street and he is quite happy to sacrifice the rule of law to protect his political legacy and emerging brand of radical conservatism.

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10 September 2020 – today’s press release

PM must stop playing fast and loose with rule of law

Responding to the statement by the European Commission confirming that, if adopted as it stands, the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill would “put at risk the ongoing future relationship negotiations”, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

No one can really be surprised that the measures the UK Government have brought forward have put the likelihood of a trade deal in jeopardy.

This proposal undermines trust and the UK’s standing on the world stage. The Government must now act swiftly to erase anything that violates international law or that could undermine

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A sensible strategy for the Scottish election

The Liberal Democrats should be able to prosper mightily in the Scottish parliamentary election on 6th May. But only if we stop attacking the SNP.

The SNP are unassailable. They are riding at over 55 per cent in the opinion polls, boosted by Nicola Sturgeon’s impressive performance in the Covid-19 emergency. And by next spring, they will be able to surf the wave of anger over Brexit and the expected surge in unemployment.

The Nationalists will blame the Johnson government for all the problems and the lack of resources to tackle them. In that they are quite right and it would be counter-productive for the Lib Dems to take a different tack. It’s misleading and dishonest to suggest the Scottish government can fix our schools and hospitals, and the potholes in the roads, with the austerity budgets they’ve been given by Westminster. Yes, the SNP could put up taxes to raise more funds but not by a significant amount.

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Our principled and distinctive position on Europe makes us relevant – don’t abandon it in pursuit of Express voters

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“Support for Brexit is collapsing” screams an article from Business Insider back in June, noting that a majority of Brits want to stay in the EU. Good for us?

“Lib Dems FINALLY listen to Britain as Ed Davey says demand to rejoin EU ‘for the birds'” bellows an article from the Express this weekend.

Ah.

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How you can help save the Au Pair programme

Spending a year as an au pair in Berlin was one of the best years of my life. I made lasting friendships, learned a language and gained a lot of sympathy for the challenges of parenting. 

The experience of au pairing abroad at a young age has been enjoyed by young people for hundreds of years. Long before the Erasmus student exchange program was born, Europe’s youth have been swapping their home for a year in Rome, Paris or London. At the same time, thousands of families benefit from the au pair program with affordable childcare and the opportunity to exchange cultures and languages. 

German au pairs will continue to spend a life changing year in Paris, and Polish au pairs can enjoy a summer as an au pair in Dublin. In the UK, this is all about the come to a stop because of Brexit. 

According to the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), the number of au pairs coming to the UK has already plummeted by seventy-percent

This is because au pairs from EU member states have been able to arrive in the UK without a visa under the rule of free movement of people. As the Tory government is hellbent on putting a stop to free movement, the centuries old au pair program is collateral damage. 

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4 September 2020 – today’s press release

NAO report shows Government has made a dog’s dinner of Brexit

Responding to a National Audit Office report on the Government handling of Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

With the combination of coronavirus creating uncertainty for people’s lives coupled with this Brexit shambles, we cannot afford for the Prime Minister to continue playing politics.

How Boris Johnson ever thought he could get a deal by the end of July with the chaos behind the scenes in Whitehall is beyond me. Even he must realise the dog’s dinner he has made of Brexit.

Now is the time to put people first.

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…The demand is for statesmen rather than politicians…..

“We must all hang together, else we shall all hang separately” the words of Benjamin Franklyn on signing the declaration of Independence are as relevant today as they were back in 1776

When a future generation weighs the historical importance of the early twenty first century they might remember another quote – that the politician looks to the next election whilst the statesman looks to the next generation. We’re very short of statesmen but have an abundance of politicians!

Here in the UK, whatever the cost it’s 2024 and the election planned for that year that counts. Our government chose to continue with the withdrawal from the European Union even though circumstances in 2020 were vastly different from those of the referendum. The tiny majority that voted for us to leave had neither a virus nor probable economic depression to contend with and there were suspicions of a misleading leave campaign. Where did that £350 million a day for the NHS disappear to? And where are the crowds from Turkey hiding?

The messages of the politicians have led us into deep trouble and who knows where the end will finally be? People don’t trust hardly a word spoken by politicians and any promises Mr Johnson makes are treated with disbelief’ Whoever is Lib Dem leader has the massive task of rebuilding trust in the government of the United Kingdom and the new Labour leader is already facing mounting criticism within his own party. If we rebuild trust we might be on the way to shaping new statesmen and women.

But we must “hang together” globally. In the past few months we are seeing a better understanding between people of different backgrounds and respect for every person wherever they might be.

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Will the next LibDem Leader have national ballot appeal?

Who are the Liberal Democrats? How far does their leader embody their party? In what way would their leader be a desirable UK Prime Minister?

As Liberal Democrats go to the polls to elect a leader these should be the questions members of the party have at the front and centre of their minds. These are the questions voters will ask. We need a leader who has manifold capacities to govern the country, providing sound leadership on a global stage into the next decade.

Many will not believe such a thing possible. Many unbelievers will be Liberal Democrats. But just think for …

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18-19 July 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • PM must come before MPs after IfG Brexit warning
  • PM riding roughshod over our rights by restricting judicial review
  • Liberal Democrats bid to block corporate lawsuits watering down protections post-Brexit
  • Chinese treatment of Uyghurs amounts to genocide, Liberal Democrat warns

PM must come before MPs after IfG Brexit warning

Responding to a report by the Institute for Government which warns coronavirus has left UK firms unprepared for a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Boris Johnson is arrogantly setting the country down a path that threatens jobs and livelihoods, and this report confirms it. People deserve better.

Now is not the time to be playing politics. Our focus must be preventing a no-deal Brexit and ensuring business has all the help it needs to protect jobs.

The Prime Minister must come before MPs before the summer recess to answer how he will address the calls for preparation support, sector specific investment and more.

PM riding roughshod over our rights by restricting judicial review

Responding to reports that the Government is planning to restrict judicial review, following a Court of Appeal decision against the Home Secretary, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

Threatening to weaken the courts because of a judgment you disagree with is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.

With these plans, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are trying to enable the Government to run roughshod over people’s rights and allow Ministers to break the law with impunity.

Liberal Democrats will always defend individuals’ abilities to challenge the Government and uphold their rights. We will not stand by and allow Johnson and Cummings to undermine the rule of law, which is so fundamental to our society.

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13 July 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Children of parents who lose jobs over summer risk losing free school meals
  • New Govt campaign will fill businesses with horror

Children of parents who lose jobs over summer risk losing free school meals

Children of parents who lose their jobs over the coming weeks risk missing out on free school meals over the summer because of a loophole in the scheme, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has warned.

It comes following a wave of job losses this week, with John Lewis and Boots alone cutting 5,300 jobs.

The current government guidelines say you must apply for a voucher for the Covid …

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11-12 July 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Govt must improve testing and tracing or they risk a second wave
  • Wasting money on Britain’s borders just more incompetence from Johnson’s Govt

Lib Dems: Govt must improve testing and tracing or they risk a second wave

Responding to Michael Gove’s comments this morning on the public returning to work and whether wearing face coverings should be mandatory in shops, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Face coverings should be worn in enclosed public spaces, and it is important that any government guidance on the issue is clear on exactly when and where they are recommending the public should wear them.

However,

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SNP divisions on Brexit make independence less likely

It feels as though from the minute that Scotland voted No to independence in 2014 the SNP have been seeking “IndyRef2”.

The independence debate in Scotland isn’t just whether you want to be part of the UK anymore, it is whether Scotland will re-join the EU if they become independent.

Although revoking article 50 was a part of SNP’s 2019 General election manifesto, their party isn’t united on the Brexit front. In fact over a third of SNP voters voted for Brexit. I suppose they are staying true to the party’s isolationism.

The reason I’m mentioning this is it now makes the independence debate more difficult for those on the Yes side due to the fact that some want Scotland to re-join the EU if they became independent and some would rather Scotland become separated from both the UK and the EU.

Whether Scotland would be allowed to re-join the EU is a debatable issue in itself and even if Scotland were to re-join, it wouldn’t be the same relationship as the UK had with the EU prior to Brexit.

The SNP will cause controversy either way they choose to go but are most likely going to re-join the EU(if they can), as over half of their party voted to remain.

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2 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt making “dog’s dinner” of Brexit negotiations
  • Govt must move faster to improve NHS Test & Trace system
  • Govt woefully underprepared to ensure every young person can return to school

Govt making “dog’s dinner” of Brexit negotiations

Responding to news that the UK Chief Negotiator David Frost has stated that “significant differences” remain as the latest restricted round of talks concludes a day early, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and Brexit spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Last month Boris Johnson asserted that he wanted a Brexit deal by the end of July.

But far from putting a tiger in the tank, David Frost appears to be making a

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The ethos of the service

My late father was at the opposite end of the Civil Service hierarchy to Sir Mark Sedwell. He never rose above the humble rank of Clerical Officer. However, one of his claims to fame was being (as a “Paper Keeper”) one of a small team of a dozen or so in 1940s Newcastle, who in the early stages of the implementation of the Beveridge Report started the Central Office of what became the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance – always known on Tyneside simply as “the Ministry”. This went through various mutations (DHSS, etc.).

A phrase which my father explained to me at a tender age was “the ethos of the service”. It affected the way he did his job in the office including, for example, how you dealt fairly with members of the public however difficult they might be, or how much effort was required to ensure that traveller family got their payments despite unpredictable movements. It also occasionally found its way home. If there were amendments to regulations that needed inserting (a laborious scissors and paste job), or if there was a fraud case (literally tied up with red tape!) that needed to be dealt with very urgently, he was liable to stuff the papers into his saddlebag before cycling home for tea. 

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9 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems secure cross-party call for Govt to take up Hong Kong Bill
  • Govt must prevent disadvantaged pupils falling behind due to COVID-19
  • Govt must help businesses and people excluded from support schemes
  • Govt wrong to deny Brexit extension

Lib Dems secure cross-party call for Govt to take up Hong Kong Bill

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support demanding the Prime Minister take up legislation to go further in UK support for Hong Kong.

The cross-party groups of MPs, led by Alistair Carmichael MP, has secured the support of former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in calling for a UK response to Beijing’s recent attempts to force a new national security law on Hong Kong.

Amidst reports of Hong Kong police firing tear gas and water cannons at several hundred demonstrators, the Government announced last week new measures to support visa rights and a path to citizenship for current British Nationals (Overseas) holders in Hong Kong.

However, the cross-party group of over 50 MPs want the Government to go further and take up Alistair Carmichael’s Hong Kong Bill for parliamentary consideration, which would also ensure greater oversight over each party’s adherence to the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

MPs from all parties and all political persuasions are backing Hong Kong with one voice today. We are calling on the Government to take up the Hong Kong Bill on a cross-party basis for debate and amendment. This is a critical moment.

That the Government has started to take action to support BNO status holders is welcome. We can and must go further, however. Measures including targeted sanctions and a reopening of the BNO passport offer deserve a full hearing.

Beijing is on the verge of wiping out the basic freedoms of Hongkongers with its draconian law. The Government must stand with us and take up legislative action to support the people of Hong Kong.

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2 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must review exports of security equipment to US
  • Lib Dems: PHE report fails to properly address inequalities in our society
  • Govt must extend transition given NI Assembly vote

Govt must review exports of security equipment to US

Responding to news that President Donald Trump has threatened to use military force to quell protests in the United States following the murder of George Floyd, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Today the US President threatened to use force against his own citizens. As things stand, our Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister have stood silent. Their silence is shameful.

The Prime Minister must make

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20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Govt risking public safety with plan to bring back Parliament
  • Davey presents bill to extend transition period
  • Lib Dems: Govt has serious questions to answer over app delays
  • Lib Dems condemn failure to properly recognise contribution of foreign nationals working in NHS and care
  • Lib Dems: Charities need a multi-billion pound package to survive

Govt risking public safety with plan to bring back Parliament

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of risking public safety and warned “everyone deserves equal representation, including those who are shielding and those with family responsibilities.”

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael MP raised these concerns with the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, having secured an Urgent Question in Parliament today.

Speaking via Zoom from Orkney, the Liberal Democrat MP accepted “none of us are blind to the inadequacies of online scrutiny,” but added “if it is a choice between that and putting the safety of members, their families and the staff of this House at risk then that is no choice at all.”

In response, despite MPs taking part in debates and ask questions via Zoom over the last few weeks, Jacob Ree-Mogg rejected the call to allow MPs to work from home and refused to acknowledge any of the concerns raised.

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

Tens of thousands of people have already died during this pandemic. To protect vulnerable people, we should all follow public health advice and work from home when we can. We must set the right example.

It is an insult to those who have suffered and died for Jacob Rees-Mogg to suggest that MPs should put their communities at risk by traveling hundreds of miles to London each week for the whims of the Government.

Parliament has demonstrated in recent weeks that we can scrutinise the Government while working from home and ensure communities across the United Kingdom have their voices heard. Everyone deserves equal representation, including those who are shielding and those with family responsibilities.

We should instead be looking at how we can retain the best features of the virtual system to ensure safe and equal representation for every part of the UK. The Government must think again.

Davey presents bill to extend transition period

Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has put forward a bill which, if passed, would force the government into a two year extension of the transition period.

An extension to the transition period is essential, ensuring that the government could focus its full attention on tackling the spread of coronavirus crisis.

Speaking ahead of the Bill’s presentation, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

It is clear the government have not made nearly enough progress on the Brexit trade talks.

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

So many press re;leases today…

  • Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader
  • Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review
  • PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round
  • Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader

The Liberal Democrats have announced a fresh leadership election timetable and plans to hold an online Autumn Conference – the first for any major political party – in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of the party’s Federal Board last night, the party agreed to holding their leadership election from June through to August. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the contest will make use of online hustings and online voting.

President of the Liberal Democrats Mark Pack, who chairs the Federal Board, also confirmed the Liberal Democrats decision to hold a digital conference in the Autumn follows “careful consideration of the latest expert advice.”

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

Following careful consideration of the latest public health advice concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.

Conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. I am therefore pleased we will host an online alternative, the first for any major political party.

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