Tag Archives: brexit

A day of ignominy

Today will go down in history. Not as a day of progress, joy, or unity, but as a day of ignominy.

It is the culmination of state failure on a massive scale, exposing the gaping holes and inadequacies in Britain’s shoddy political system and constitution, our dishonourable media, and our flawed political class.

Put together, the combined errors of decades have culminated in three full years of tragedy and farce. They have also seen the birth of the EU’s largest pro-European movement, with great passion, courage, and vigour – but it all came too late.

The world looks on, scratching its head in bemusement, at how such an apparently accomplished nation can conduct such an evident act of self-harm, simultaneously undermining the world order it helped establish and subverting its own foreign policy goals of centuries.

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This is a shameful day in our country’s history

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Today is a horrible day and I feel overwhelmingly sad about the opportunities we are losing. We won’t notice an immediate difference because of the transition period but there is no longer anything we can do if we don’t like the changes that happen at the end of this year. We will no longer have the EU to protect our workers’ rights from the worst excesses of our government. We won’t have as easy access to the single market, so our prices will go up. The next generation’s chances to live, work and study in the EU will be severely limited and those EU citizens already here – our friends, family and neighbours face the Home Office hostile environment. Settled status doesn’t offer that much protection.

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Leaving the EU – some last day tweets

Here are some EU last day thoughts from the Twittersphere:


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Ed Davey: We fought the good fight – now what next?

This is the text of the speech given by Ed Davey today in Manchester.

Good morning.

For the last four years, the Liberal Democrats fought to stop Brexit.

We held street stalls, town hall meetings and we marched in our millions.

Today we stand strong in the knowledge that we did everything we could.

Tens of thousands of people got involved with our campaign. People who had never campaigned before. And old hands, campaigning harder than they ever had before.

We fought with good humour and great energy. We fought because we love our country.

Our pro-Europeanism is built on our patriotism.

So I will always be proud of the

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Where we go from here

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On Tuesday I visited the European Parliament building for the first time.

I was awed by the beautiful modern glass buildings in the Place de Luxembourg, which merge together to form an impressive (and somewhat confusing) web of corridors and doorways.

The Parliament is the epicentre of the European Union and is where over 7,500 staff and 751 MEPs work. Sadly, from Friday, this will be reduced as our UK contingent leave Brussels – just 8 months into what should’ve been a 5-year term.

But my visit to the Parliament wasn’t just to marvel at the impressive architecture. I came to meet with our MEPs, and to represent Wales at an event entitled “Brexit: What next for the Nation States”. I was joined by the indominable Sheila Ritchie MEP, representing Scotland, and newly elected Alliance MP Stephen Farry, representing Northern Ireland.

I spoke of how there are so many people who feel behind in Wales, with little sense of being connected with the centres of power that made decisions.

Even though Wales received £680million per year from the EU, making it a nation that benefitted far more than it contributed, there is a huge disconnected between areas of high poverty and the actual financial advantages membership of the EU brought for their communities.

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Bells are set to toll in the UK on Friday but a silent flame can send a gentler message


Candle flame by Shan Sheehan
This is a message for all, including those who voted for Brexit.

I live in the hope that all can agree with the following sentiments.

We have greatly different views on how they can be achieved, but can we all join in, in lighting a candle ( a safe one!) on the evening of January 31st?

Bobby McDonagh is a former Irish ambassador to London, Rome and Brussels. In an article in Monday’s Irish Times, he suggests lighting a candle in homes, churches – anywhere.

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“God only knows what the next government will tell us” – EU citizens in UK watch Brexit happen with very mixed feelings

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As a continental European citizen, I’m interested in how the EU citizens living in the UK are experiencing the Brexit process, and their treatment by the British authorities and their British fellow UK inhabitants.

If you live in a EU country where a referendum, in which you’re not allowed to vote, decides it will leave the EU and all the certainties that went with it, that is a fundamental transformation of your position in that country and that society; especially if the sitting government is not always as careful, let alone reassuring, about your position in their country.

Well, I’m not at all reassured that the British government has grasped how sensitive they have to be towards those EU citizens in such a transformative policy move.

Let me point to an Opinium Poll of British EU citizens last December, right after the barnstorming “Get Brexit Done” election campaign. It found that 75% of EU citizens polled thought that UK politicians didn’t care about their views; and 67% thought that they didn’t even listen. 57% said that under May and Boris, the UK government had grown “more hostile” towards EU citizens since the referendum.

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

  • Lib Dems launch campaign to scrap cash machine fees
  • Chancellor must take blinkers off and pay attention to industry
  • Johnson cannot be trusted to fix broken politics

Lib Dems launch campaign to scrap cash machine fees

The Brecon & Radnorshire Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign calling on the UK Government to provide the funding necessary to scrap transaction fees at local cash machines. With the number of bank branches across Powys dwindling, a growing number of residents are forced to reply upon Post Offices and local cash machines to access their money.

Last year Jane Dodds, then MP for Brecon & Radnorshire, led …

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It’s Johnson’s responsibility – hold him to account!

Today, for the first time since this debacle began all the way back in 2016 we find ourselves with an odd sense of certainty.

For better or (definitely) for worse, at the end of January the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be leaving the European Union under a majority Conservative and unionist Government, headed by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (yes this is his actual full name to those who aren’t aware).

This may not be the certainty we ever wanted but there is an odd sense of relief in it; sort of like that feeling when you …

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We let the remainers down – now we need to focus on a Green New Deal


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The Liberal Democrats let the EU Remainers down, right from the 2016 Referendum.

On Nick Clegg’s recommendation the architect of our disastrous 2015 election campaign was appointed as chief of strategy for the remain campaign. The result was entirely predictable.

The party then spent four years in the wilderness. A steady, but uninspiring, leadership from Vince and hard work from our local government activists saw the party slowly improve its position.

In the 2019 Euro Elections the Remainers put their faith in the Lib Dems, only to be let down again at the General Election. This time a combination of a terrible campaign, inexperienced and badly advised leadership, fear of Corbyn and First Past the Post ensured that faith in the Lib Dems was once again misplaced. Not all our fault, but with a good campaign and steady leadership we should have made 50 seats, and the picture today would have been different.

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17 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems oppose Johnson’s Parliamentary agenda
  • Fall in retail sales demands a radical rethink
  • PM should seek to bring the country together

Lib Dems oppose Johnson’s Parliamentary agenda

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech for debate on Monday 19 January. The amendment details the key reasons why Liberal Democrat MPs will oppose Boris Johnson’s agenda for government, including:

  • failure to introduce ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency;
  • failure to set out measures to tackle poverty and inequality;
  • failure to protect human rights or to strengthen the voice of citizens.

The amendment also urges Government to introduce a system of proportional representation. …

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It must be the right people who fall on their swords

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In October 1805 Napoleon was in what is now the Czech Republic and desperate to engage the armies of Austria and Russia, which had converged, before they became too strong to overcome. The Russian commander-in-chief, Kutuzov, also realised that Napoleon needed to do battle, so he counselled retreat. But the Austrians and Tsar Alexander, buoyed by what they believed was reliable reconnaissance information, overruled Kutuzov, who was demoted. Napoleon, by various stratagems, lured the Austrians into a battle on terrain of his choosing, near Austerlitz.

You can see where this is going.

French reinforcements, of whom the Austrians were unaware, arrived unexpectedly. Napoleon won one of his greatest victories, and an awful lot of people got killed. The Holy Roman Empire effectively came to an end a year later.

This is what happens when the top command makes the wrong decision.

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9 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Transport Secretary needs to sack Northern
  • A&E waiting times will be worse with Tories’ extreme Brexit
  • Jardine secures Govt commitment to introduce Domestic Abuse Bill by Easter
  • Lib Dems continue to oppose dangerous Withdrawal Bill

Transport Secretary needs to sack Northern

The Liberal Democrats have called for the Transport Secretary to “sack Northern” following the announcement that the Government is considering awarding Northern a short-term contract.

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

The Conservative Government’s big announcement on Northern is just more delay, something that rail passengers in the North are all too familiar with.

It’s completely unthinkable that the Secretary of State is prepared to award

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Fifty Ps for Refugees

Remainers haven’t reacted well to the repeated Government announcements of a ‘special’ 50p coin to mark the withdrawal from the EU. So that puts a grin on the face of every Tory and Faragist. The most common response of vocal Remainers is to say that they will boycott the coin, which is not an easy strategy in a crowded shop and, I imagine, might result in people having to forego their change if they won’t accept legal tender (and lead to wry smiles from those trying to use Scottish notes in parts of England).

Another response is needed, my friends. …

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8 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Iran’s actions on US airbases “unacceptable”
  • Johnson’s hard negotiation deadline is unrealistic
  • Farron: Child refugees vote reveals Tory MPs’ true colours
  • Johnson’s govt must stand up to use of death penalty abroad
  • UK Govt must not abandon Iran Nuclear Treaty

Iran’s actions on US airbases “unacceptable”

Responding to Iran’s missile strikes on US airbases in Iraq, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Iran’s actions against US airbases last night were unacceptable and should be unequivocally condemned.

It is vital Boris Johnson does all he can to ensure dialogue and a de-escalation of this intensifying situation.

The Prime Minister must also take every step

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Billy Kelleher MEP writes: Britain didn’t become more illiberal and less tolerant overnight

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Brexit’s happening. There I said it. It is not what I, my party, or my island wants. I know it’s not what the Lib Dems want, but we are where we are.

The deal that Prime Minister Johnson agreed with the EU is not as good as Theresa May’s deal. While it is good for Northern Ireland, it may prove damaging for East-West trade between Ireland and Great Britain if a future relationship agreement isn’t agreed in time.

For the first time, the islands of Ireland and Great Britain are not on the same course – we are diverging. This brings with it huge challenges for all of us who live on either island.

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Rolling the boulder back up the hill again….

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In ancient mythology Sisyphus is condemned to spend eternity in Hades rolling a huge stone up a hill only to see it roll down again and have to repeat the process. Judging by the reaction of many Lib Dems to the 2019 General Election, that seems a good metaphor for the predicament party members and activists feel themselves to be in.

The most common injunction is currently is to go back to basics, build up the local base, immerse ourselves in community politics,set out on the long march again.

Like Sisyphus we may find this necessary even obligatory- even if tinged with reluctance and a sense of sad futility. We can see it as a consequence of living in this vale of tears where FPTP rules and political power inevitably goes to those with most economic clout. Breaking the mould can seem impossible if you don’t control those forces that set the mould in the first place.

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse – Without proportional representation, there’s no future for moderate politics in Brexit Britain


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Over on the Independent, Wera Hobhouse MP argues that the whole EU referendum and ensuing mess came about due to the faults of the First Past the Post voting system, and has now left us with a government elected by 44% of voters which can deliver any Brexit it wants, despite 52% of voters voting for parties committed to a People’s Vote or revoking Article 50:

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LibLink: Vince Cable – we need to learn lessons from Nigel Farage

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Over on the Independent website, Vince Cable, with typical wisdom, conducts a post-mortem on the “remain” campaign. He advises that we need to learn lessons from Nigel Farage, such as campaigning outside of Westminster through social media and other non-parliamentary means:

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The General Election – it’s time to stop looking for someone to blame and take action

In March 2017, I wrote a thought piece for this journal called “Brexit, it’s time to stop looking for someone to blame and take action”. I took my own advice (more on this later on) but it made me think it was important to write a similar article today simply changing a couple of words in the title.

When that exit poll dropped on Thursday night I was distraught.  Unlike in June 2016, I had feared this result would happen  as soon as the Farage/Johnson pact came out and given the way the  campaign had gone, but seeing it actually materialise was a fundamental blow.  Once again that sinking feeling, both for what it meant for the country but also how harsh it was on so many candidates and activists who deserved far better.

Like in June 2016, I fear for what the result will mean for the U.K (and to some extent this party) in the short, medium and long term. And like in June 2016, its easy to spend your time looking for someone to blame:

  • Should it be at all who voted for this General Election to take place?
  • Should it be once again be at Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and their cabal for putting together a campaign full of lies, most notably that ridiculous “GetBrexitDone” which is so far from the truth it is unbelievable.
  • Should it once again be at many sections of the media who failed to properly hold the Tories to account and call out the lies?
  • Should it be at all those that voted Conservative, against their interests, for the first time, for being persuaded by their false arguments?
  • Should it be those within the LibDems for the general strategy in the campaign including sticking with the Revoke Policy (which for balance I voted for at conference having listened carefully to the debate and thought was right when up against no deal) once a Brexit “deal” was agreed?
  • Should it be at Jeremy Corbyn for being so unelectable to so many of the population that those who would be inclined to vote Lib Dem (or Dominic Grieve in my seat) – or even tactically for an anti-brexit Labour MP, decided that they could not take the risk their votes could put him in Downing Street?
  • Should it be at the whole Labour Leadership for being hostile to any sort of anti-tory pact and then actively campaigning in seats they could not win (e.g. Wimbledon & Finchley) costing the Lib Dems the seats?

Like in March 2017, I realise that, although whilst all these points may well be justified, some more than others, just looking to apportion blame is not going to help. Of course you need to reflect and learn from mistakes but simply looking backwards will not help.

Well a few months after March 2017 I took my own advice, I rose up and took action.  Two years ago this weekend (15th December 2017) I started a new non-partisan twitter account building a community of regretful leavers called @RemainerNow!  It soon became a national campaign using various channels and I would like to think it became a key part in the anti-brexit movement (more on @RemainerNow).  We may have failed in our quest to get a Final Say and stop Brexit but I at least know that I (and the others that contributed) tried our hearts out.  But we have only lost the battle, we must win the war for our country’s soul.

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Brexit – it’s time to accept that we’ve lost. There’s a new battle to fight…

I’m a pro-European. I’ve been involved in European politics as an active ALDE Party member for some years now. And it grieves me to say this but… we’ve lost. Complain about the voting system, about the lies, the sheer injustice of the thing, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Conservatives got their majority and will end the debate about our membership of the European Union in seven weeks. They’ve got a mandate, like the one we would have claimed had we won.

I’ve received a number of invitations to join a group seeking to campaign to rejoin the European Union, and there may be a case to be made for that in the years ahead. But looking backwards gives you neckache, and liberals have a new task ahead, to make the case for liberal values and persuade the British public that our outward looking, inclusive stance isn’t just good in itself, but can actually being benefits to those who have felt failed by the political system.

And yes, that means making the case for a stronger, more secure relationship with our neighbours, holding the Conservatives to account when their choices are bad for our country, its people and the economy. It means having a vision for how that relationship will look, and a willingness to argue for it. What are the benefits to voters in Sunderland, or Lowestoft, or Truro, of a closer trading relationship with Europe? And what are the concessions we might have to make?

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11 December 2019 – today’s press releases

It’s the final batch before polling day… Good luck to everyone tomorrow, and thank you for everything that you’ve done for the cause…

  • Lib Dems: Disgraced Brexit Party founder backing Johnson shows how far the Tories have sunk
  • Welsh Lib Dems: We can secure a brighter future for Wales
  • Lib Dems: Barnier’s comments show Johnson’s campaign slogan is just another Tory fib

Lib Dems: Disgraced Brexit Party founder backing Johnson shows how far the Tories have sunk

Responding to the news that Catherine Blaiklock, the disgraced Brexit Party founder who quit over her Islamophobic public statements, is backing Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Ed …

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10 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics
  • Lib Dems: GDP figures show economy is grinding to a halt under the Tories
  • Lib Dem launch poster urging Remainers to stop Boris Johnson
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson is lying on a bulldozer instead of in front of one
  • Lib Dems: Johnson attack on international aid will destroy our global credibility

Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics

The Liberal Democrats have today branded the Tories pledge to double the budget of the ‘health tourism enforcement unit’ as dog-whistle politics.

The Conservative manifesto states that …

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Entitled Isn’t Exceptional: Why Brexit Will Fail, part 4

For readers joining this series late, here are parts one, two and three

So far this week, I’ve discussed the lies and indecision at the heart of Brexit that make it impossible for Johnson to deliver on any of the grand promises he makes.

The biggest lie of all is British Exceptionalism, the lie that we tell ourselves that Britain is somehow special, because of our history, because of the Empire, because of the ubiquity of our language, because of the “special relationship”. The dangerous delusion of “Empire 2.0”.

Johnson in particular, refers to Britain in towering, cod-Churchillian terms, forgetting …

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Decision Impossible: Why Brexit Will Fail, part 2

Yesterday, in part 1, Richard looked at the issue of trust. Today, his attention turns to the internal contradictions of Brexit…

Brexit is going to fail. We know that.

That doesn’t mean that the Quitter side isn’t going to be able to take Britain out of the EU. Although the internal contradictions have been a big part of what has kept us in – and way past first Mrs May’s leaving date and now Boris Johnson’s leaving date, both of which were set in stone, both of which went past without us leaving – we have to face the possibility that if the Tories win, or possibly even if Labour win the 2019 General Election, we will finally leave the EU, either in January 2020 or later.

But we can be sure that the promises made by the supporters of Leave and the Vote Leave campaign will not, cannot be fulfilled.

Because to govern is to choose, but the heart of Brexit is a refusal to make the difficult choices over what Brexit Britain wants.

Some three-and-a-half years after the Referendum campaign there is still no clear consensus on what Brexit actually means. The fatuous slogans “Brexit Means Brexit” and “Get Brexit Done” cover up this key indecision at the heart of Britain’s government and the Leave movement itself.

While there are almost as many Brexits are there were voters, with Vote Leave’s Cambridge-Analytica-driven campaign customising a Brexit to virtually each voter, it’s clear that among them are three big strands:

  • First, the Faragist “no immigrants” Brexit.
  • Second, the sovereignty-first “take back control of our laws” Brexit.
  • And third, the deregulate everything economy Brexit (often linked with the “no deal” or “World Trade Organisation Terms” brands, although those things do not necessarily lead to deregulation).

It ought to be obvious at a glance that these three are all incompatible. We cannot deregulate and at the same time highly regulate our migration. We cannot take charge of our own laws and at the same time sign away sovereignty to the WTO or to Trump in a UK-US free trade deal.

To avoid this contradiction, government and Leave spokespeople pick one and pretend all Brexit is about their one. The media complicity in this, by setting any “debate” between Remain and one-at-a-time versions of Brexit, has left Remainers struggling to land consistent blows when fighting this many-headed hydra of a Brexit.

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What can we take from the MRP seat projections?

13 seats.

That’s what the  You Gov MRP seat projection says we’re going to get.

Not what we wanted to hear.  YouGov only spoke to a small number of people in each seat. Our campaign teams on the ground will have spoken to thousands more people over the last few weeks. They are likely to have a much more accurate idea of what is going on and I think that they will find these projections surprising.

But note the caveat from YouGov

The idea behind MRP is that we use the poll data from the preceding seven days to estimate a model that relates interview date, constituency, voter demographics, past voting behaviour, and other respondent profile variables to their current voting intentions. This model is then used to estimate the probability that a voter with specified characteristics will vote Conservative, Labour, or some other party.

This is a Brexit election though. Brexit is an issue which has split the country into Leave and Remain voters. Traditional patterns of voting for each party may well not apply.

I’m grateful to Morgan Griffith-David for doing this work for me so I don’t have to, but the poll only gives us 13 seats, it puts us in touching distance in another 23. This should concentrate the minds of pro-Remain voters. For example, Brecon and Radnorshire is projected as Conservative 49%, Lib Dem 35%, Labour 14%. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what Labour voters need to do to stop the Tories, whose vote is not split by the Brexit party this time.

These, and others, are the seats where Remainers really need to get behind the Lib Dems to stop Boris Johnson getting a majority which will enable him to inflict Brexit hell on the country.

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A Certain Economy with the Truth: Why Brexit Will Fail, part 1

It is a true maxim that cheats never prosper. Boris Johnson and the Tory Party have lied and cheated, and in the short term it has won them the keys to 10 Downing Street. It may even win them an election. But in the long term it spells ruin for all of us. Here’s why.

Brexit is toxic to even steady growth in the economy.

Economic growth rests on three things: optimism, stability and trust.

People need optimism to believe that they will get something back from the work or cash that they put into any investment.

People need stability in order to predict whether what they put in over time will pay back the cost, in hours or money, of putting in the effort.

And they need to trust that what they are told about the situation is true, that the rules are not going to be changed arbitrarily on them, and that they are on a fair playing field, that some other people are not going to suddenly be given the profits that they have worked for.

Brexit is not an optimistic ideology. It is made of nostalgia and fear of change. A desire to turn the clock back to a time that never was is not the dynamism that you need to create opportunity for the new.

Boris Johnson himself may have optimism in spades (or may not; often, when challenged, he appears to be faking it), but no one at all trusts him. Twice in the election debates he has raised the idea of trust in his government and twice audiences have literally laughed in his face.

Brexit is built out of lies. From that bloody bus; via the disingenuous all-Brexits-to-all-people approach that short-term winning was more important than telling people true what they intended; through the use of “othering” minorities, blaming migration, breeding hate-crimes but also dividing the country; and up to lying to the Queen and refusing to publish the report into Russian interference.

That consistent lack of trust, that attitude of looking backwards not to the future fundamentally undermines our economy.

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25 November 2019 – the day’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Tory childcare provision just £1 per child
  • Lib Dems: We can stop Johnson ramming through a Queen’s Speech and destructive Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Home office to profit £4 million from nurse tax
  • Lib Dems: Ivan Rogers exposes Johnson’s Brexit plan as a sham

Lib Dems: Tory childcare provision just £1 per child

The Conservative Party have set out in their manifesto that if elected, they would spend £250 million a year on expanding childcare provision for primary school children after school and in the school holidays.

However, the latest Government estimate is that there are 4,727,090 pupils in state-funded primary school meaning that …

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Catch-up: 24 November 2019 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

Gotten myself into a bit of a backlog position, I’m afraid – the price you pay for going to St Albans, it seems…

  • Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools
  • Lib Dems: McDonnell refuses to come clean on Brexit
  • EU staff at Johnson’s local NHS trust feel “anxiety” over Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Tory manifesto is built on a lie

Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools

The Liberal Democrats have today announced an extra £7 billion over five years from the Party’s infrastructure budget for new school buildings and repairs to keep up with rising pupil numbers.

The funding will …

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US trade deal will mean higher drugs bills for NHS

President Trump is apparently to be told by Boris Johnson that the NHS is “off the table” in any negotiations with the UK Government over trade, but there are other ways in which a trade deal can be exploited by the USA, which will inevitably result in a higher drugs bill for the NHS.  

In February 2019, the USA published its specific negotiating objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.  They include the following: “Seek provisions governing intellectual property rights that reflect a standard of protection similar to that found in U.S. law”.  Intellectual property rights were then the subject of the US-UK trade discussions on 25th July 2019 (which are the subject of redacted documents produced after a freedom of information request to the DTI).  In the context of medicines, the USA will therefore no doubt be asking the UK to implement a link (in law) between pharmaceutical patents and the drug regulatory approval process (“patent linkage”), such as the Americans have.  

The US experience shows that patent linkage can seriously delay the time at which cheaper generic drugs enter the market, whilst any patent disputes are resolved.  It is not supported in the European Union and we currently have no such system in the UK.  Bear in mind that a generic drug may be priced at a small fraction of the price of the same drug before generic entry and one gets an approximate flavour of the millions currently saved by the NHS through its use of generic pharmaceuticals.  

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