Tag Archives: brexit

29 March 2019 – today’s press releases

It’s been a slightly hectic day today, but I’ve got my nomination papers in – I’m running for re-election to my Parish Council in mid-Suffolk. Have you got yours in yet? Time’s running out…

Cable: Only route out of this crisis is a People’s Vote

Responding to the vote on the Government’s withdrawal agreement losing by 58 votes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Today’s outcome was entirely predictable.

No amount of parliamentary trickery can breathe life back into May’s deal. The only route to resolve the crisis is a final say with the option to Remain in the EU.

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Cabinet minister: ‘It is May’s inability to engage in the most basic human interactions that brought us here’

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BBC Newsnight’s political editor, Nicholas Watt, quoted a cabinet minister last night, providing perhaps the clearest insight yet into the Brexit mess. Here’s what Watt said:

In cabinet, I am picking up complete and utter dispair. I said to one cabinet minister “Why is the Prime Minister holding a vote when she is pretty sure she is going to lose?” and using very strong language, this cabinet minister said to me:

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Friday fun – enjoy Jacob Rees-Mogg being given a history lesson

This is an excerpt from the Commons debate two days ago on the Letwin/Benn proposal to have a series of indicative votes on Brexit.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is wearing an extremely expensive suit and sporting his plummiest accent. He quotes history from the Tudor era, but subsequent events seem to have slipped his mind. He seems to have forgotten a little thing called “The Civil War”.

Fortunately, the self-deprecating, avuncular Oliver Letwin is on hand to give him a history lesson.

My own MP has a substantial supporting role in this video as the twinkly eyes behind JRM.

It is worth getting a cuppa and your favourite dunking biscuit with which to enjoy this priceless exchange….

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Lib Dems vs Brexit: Wera Hobhouse: This must go back to the people

Wera Hobhouse made the case for a People’s Vote in the Commons on Wednesday. You can watch her speech here.  At the time of writing the embedding thing was broken.

The text follows:

In 2016, 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. Today, after almost three years, we still have at least six different Brexit versions in front of us. None of them was on the ballot paper for the people to vote for in 2016. Each defender of their Brexit option makes some claim that it represents the will of the people. That is why we need to test the will of the people in 2019 and to give them a specific Brexit option versus the option of staying in the EU.

Personally, I am pretty agnostic about what is a better or worse Brexit option. All I want to see as an outcome of today’s exercise is that whatever Brexit option we decide on here is put back to the people. The people might reconfirm that they wish to leave the EU, but in 2019, everybody who wants to leave the EU will know exactly what they are voting for rather than there being a long wish list of hopes, aspirations and undeliverable promises. Yes, referendums are difficult, but they are democratic. We should not be threatened by those who tell us that they will riot in the streets if there is another referendum.

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No Deal catastrophic for livestock farmers

Hot off the Lib Dem press, pointing out the devastating effects of a No Deal to farmers:

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat DEFRA Spokesperson, today challenged the Government’s no deal planning which he described as “catastrophic” for rural communities.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:

Can I tell the Minister that I very much agree with him when he talks of Europe as a key export market for our Lamb producers and hill farmers. 160 of his colleagues last night voted for a no deal Brexit, including the Hon. Member who asked the question a no deal Brexit could expose lamb exports to a 12.8% plus €171.3/100kg tariff. Is that going to be good for our sheep farmers?

Responding on behalf of the Government, the Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Fishing and Farming, said:

The best way to prevent a situation in which we have a no deal Brexit is to vote for the deal. Nothing yesterday was supported by the House. The deal is the best thing for agriculture, the best thing for future, and the best thing for a long-term relationship between ourselves and the European Union.

Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:

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Indicative votes – where do they leave us?

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The Guardian has a breakdown of the indicative votes last night, and a tool so that you can find out how your MP voted.

First of all, the indicative vote process is very much to be welcomed. It should have happened a lot earlier and been repeated at regular intervals IMHO.

We are seeing a preferential voting system of sorts here – there will hopefully be a further “second round” process next Monday.

Last night’s vote showed the Customs Union and the People’s Vote option emerging as front-runners. I think we can be optimistic that this is the beginning of a positive process.

Yesterday we had Steve Baker, from the Conservative European Reform Group, saying:

I could tear this place down and bulldoze it into the river. These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t even understand.

The problem is that he can’t have it both ways. People who want to “take back control” from the EU, need to decide what they want. They either want a Parliamentary Representative Democracy where the people elect representatives who then study the issues and decide upon them. Or they want a Swiss system of frequent, often repetitive plebescites. If Steve Baker wants to bulldoze parliament, what does he want in its place?

Vince Cable has provided a succinct summary of the situation now, describing last night as “A big win”:

Last night, the House of Commons predictably failed to alight on a single way forward on Brexit – but the centre of gravity is a lot clearer than it was.

A record 268 MPs voted with the Liberal Democrats for a people’s vote. This was the most popular vote of the night and got more votes than the Prime Minister’s deal has ever got.

While no proposal commanded a majority, the largest support is for a People’s Vote.

And we discovered yesterday that Theresa May is, at last, accepting the inevitable by preparing to leave office. Her dogged attempts to “deliver Brexit” – with Jeremy Corbyn’s help – have cost her her job.

Yet the Prime Minister nonetheless appears to be planning to make one final attempt at securing her deal tomorrow.

The fact she thinks she could have a chance of winning demonstrates the cynicism of her opponents in the Tory Party. Until very recently they were telling us – as an absolute principle – that they could not support her deal under any circumstances.

They now fear Brexit is at risk.

And they are right.

After three years of campaigning, public opinion has decisively moved in favour of remaining in the EU, with 60% indicating they would support staying in the EU in a new referendum, nearly 6 million demanding revocation of Article 50, and more than a million marching with us last weekend.

It is absolutely crucial that we keep campaigning and keep the pressure up on MPs in other parties to support us.

It is clearer than ever is that however, the Government proceeds the public must have the final say.

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A momentary lapse

Now, I am not the sort of person that hurls toast and marmalade at the radio every time a politician trots onto the Today programme and proceeds to make a claim of dubious validity, however, yesterday morning (Wednesday 27 March), there was a momentary lapse in my usually calm demeanour.

I had just heard Jacob Rees-Mogg say that his signature has been added to the petition to revoke Article 50. How does he know this? Does somebody with access to the data, feed confidential information to members of parliament?

Another way to “know” that somebody had submitted a signature in the name of Jacob Rees-Mogg would be to arrange a false submission to discredit the petition deliberately. Who would do such a thing and who would then tell Jacob Rees-Mogg that it had been done?

Another way to discredit the 6 million signatures would be to say that the signatures have been manipulated by the Russians – again, a claim that I heard on Radio 4. How would a politician know that the Russians are manipulating the signatures on the petition? Where is the evidence? Does the politician have the evidence and, if they do, will they present this to the relevant authorities – or are they unconcerned about Russian intervention in a democratic process?

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++May to resign as PM before next phase of Brexit

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The Guardian reports:

Theresa May has promised Tory MPs she will step down as prime minister before the next phase of Brexit negotiations in a bid to get Eurosceptics to back her withdrawal deal.

The prime minister said she would make way for another Conservative leader, after listening to the demands of MPs for a new leadership team.

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2012: Under an EU deadline & government collapse, the Dutch parliament grabs the reins Part 2

Read part 1 here:

As Prime Minister Rutte had announced in his press conference on Saturday, when Parliament reconvened on Tuesday, 24th April, his Chancellor (Finance cabinet minister) Jan Cornelis de Jager started doing the rounds with all opposition parties. He was surprised when, arriving in the meeting room of the D66 parliamentary party, he found the leaders and Treasury spokespeople not only of D66, but also of GroenLinks and ChU sitting there to confer with him on a new Dutch budget package for Brussels.  In telephone (and email) rounds on Sunday, and meetings on Monday, the top people of these three parties had hammered out a common set of adjustment proposals to put to the Rutte government. Mr. De Jager played along finding this convenient, but also conferred with all other opposition parties. Dutch Labour (PvdA), back then still a big party in parliament, refused to join the “Kunduz” trio because they thought Netherlands shouldn’t strictly adhere to the 3% GDP norm (Dutch Neokeynesianism was invented by the PvdA in the late 1940’s).

Within two days of furious negotiating, on Thursday April 26th, the coalition government parties VVD and CDA, and the trio D66, GroenLinks and ChU had hammered out the outlines of an adjusted package. Coincidentally they together represented 77 of the 150 Commons seats; another orthodox protestant party SGP, 3 MP’s) joined it, and the “Kunduz Coaltion” or “Spring Agreement” package was agreed by the Second Chamber that evening. It was sent off to Brussels immediately, only just before the EMU/SGP.

The priorities of the three opposition parties shone through in the adjustments made.

D66 got the raising of the state pension age from 65 to 67 years of age (a point we had been hammering away at in opposition from 2007 onwards) and reinstatement of the low VAT tariff for theatrical performances; ChU got cuts on subsidizing palliative care for the dying removed. Being three decidedly internationalist opposition parties, we also got the 0.7% GDP norm for development aid reinstated; and being three just as decidedly green parties, we got green measures inserted (coal-fired electrical power plants started paying coal tax along with all other enterprises; investing in/subsidizing home isolation and durable ways of building houses and edifices). D66 and GroenLinks even got VVD and CDA to start diminishing Mortgage Interest Tax Relief on private home-owners (a sacred cow until then). We had to swallow some other things of course (raising the upper VAT tariff from 19 to 21%; scrapping tax freedom from employee allowances for home-work travel expenses). But we (D66) were proud as Punch that we helped the Netherlands adhere to EMU norms we entered into under the Maastricht Treaty and EMU agreements. ECSC/EEC/EU founder Netherlands remained a faithful member, losing the PVV obstructionists (who since withered in opposition).

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Indicative Votes – An alternative to the Meaningful Vote, Three

There is an old saying that goes “You couldn’t make it up” the drama of the last few weeks in parliament where Theresa May has been trying to get her deal passed has, in my opinion, been scandalous. May in her first attempt suffered the largest defeat in parliamentary history, followed by a second attempt when she faced the fourth largest defeat in history. Theresa May has not changed any of her red lines and then went on national television to blame MPs (how to win friends and influence people, Theresa May style). The only reason some of the MPs …

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Revoking Article 50 would not break our democracy

So the Government was defeated twice last night, which paves the way for MPs to set the agenda on Wednesday.

However, it managed to see off a perfectly reasonable amendment from Margaret Beckett which would have made sure that the House would have had control of what would have happened if we got to 7 days from the deadline with no deal in place.

This amendment was defeated by 3 votes. 8 Labour MPs voted with the Government against it.

The fact that so many votes are so finely balanced is really worrying. Theresa May would see getting her Brexit deal through by one vote as a victory. That would mean probably a decade of uncertainty and a whole generation pretty much sold down the river.

If you are making a major life choice, for example getting married or, I guess, the more appropriate analogy is getting divorced, you have to be sure you are doing the right thing.

MPs are obviously conflicted so the obvious answer is to preserve the status quo before any further damage is done. We are at the point where revoking Article 50 is the only option we have.

That would have its problems, for sure. People do have some genuine concerns that such a move would be harmful for democracy.

I hope I can allay some of those fears.

Every credible large sample poll has put Remain in the lead in the last few months. Over 5.5 million people have felt moved to sign a petition which essentially calls for the government to just make Brexit stop. Twice in 5 months the streets of London have been filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters.

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2012: Under an EU deadline & government collapse, the Dutch parliament grabs the reins Part 1

I never in my wildest dreams thought it possible that, after the English Civil War, any English or British parliament would intervene while a government was collapsing (and straining under an EU deadline), grab the reins and impose its preference. But that’s what I’ve just been watching live on the March 25th late BBC News and Newsnight.

It reminded me of the only instance in Dutch politics when, with an EU/EMU deadline looming, the government lost its majority; with the party giving confidence and supply stalking out and staying out, and opposition MP’s saved the day.

In this two-piece article, I’ll explain what happened; I think it goes to show that with responsible opposition parliamentarians involved, parliament taking the initiative from an amputated government can be positive. 

It was 2012, two years into the first (Mark) Rutte government ( with ministers from VVD (car-loving Liberals) and CDA (Christian Democrats), and with Geert Wilders’ PVV giving the support to make up a majority (76 of 150 Commons seats) but without ministers. VVD and CDA had a coalition agreement; PVV supported most of it, but abstained on the foreign bits: (1) Dutch ISAF participation in pacifying Afghanistan (in Kunduz province and (2) European politics: anything remotely related to growing an “ever closer union” as professor Desmond Dinan describes it in his EU history handbooks, starting with EMU. And the PVV got our development aid lowered below the UN norm of 0,7% of GDP.

In 2011, Rutte got the foreign bits of his policy through parliament with the support of D66 (social liberals), GroenLinks (centrist-progressive Greens) and ChU (Orthodox and green protestants); this was afterwards called the (opposition part of the) “Kunduz coalition”.

Being a faithful EMU member in the Greek EMU crisis, and under the EU’s Stability & Growth Pact, the EMU rule book, we had to submit the outlines of our 2013 Dutch budget-package to Brussels and the ECB in Frankfurt by the end of April for clearance: did we adhere to the tough EMU/SGP budgetary norms we were subjecting Greece, Spain and Ireland to?  If we missed the deadline or didn’t adhere to norms, a EMU fine of a billion euros threatened.

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The weekend everything changed…

What a weekend!  It really does feel different now – claims of “the will of the people” have never sounded more hollow, the 2016 referendum result never more stale.  The online petition to Revoke Article 50 has topped 5 million signatures, dwarfing all the pro-Brexit petitions combined by a massive margin.  Over a million travelled from all over the country to march for a People’s Vote while Nigel-No-Mates struggles to muster 50 for his “Brexit Betrayal” march.

And just look who’s marching.  On Saturday there were young people everywhere – twenties, teens and younger.  All demanding a say, all demanding a brighter future.  Now study the photos (if you can bear to) from one of Farage’s sad little gatherings and tell me how many you spot under the age of 40.

A better Prime Minister, one with charisma and genuine leadership qualities, would have built a cross-party consensus for a Norway-style soft Brexit and would be taking us out of the EU with a deal that a majority would accept (if reluctantly).

But that time has passed.  May’s Brexit plans have turned to ashes on a pyre of incompetence, intransigence and infighting.  The people have stared into the abyss of a hard Brexit, and while a few still want to jump, most are stepping back and turning away.

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Brexit: bad for doctors, worse for patients, but there is hope

The medical profession has always been staunchly opposed to Brexit. Even before the 2016 referendum the British Medical Journal predicted dire consequences, and whilst the pro-European tone was slightly subdued in the immediate aftermath, criticism has become more vehement as the process dragged on.

Last week the BMJ reported on a meeting of 150 doctors in Belfast who found “little to feel positive about”, not least the bizarre prospect of emergency ambulances being stopped when they crossed a hard border. A leading article (pictured) considered the plight of EU-qualified doctors who comprise …

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23-24 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

Cable: We are now a Remain country

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable today kicked off the ‘Put It To The People’ march by declaring to supporters that the UK is a “Remain country”.

The Liberal Democrat leader joined hundreds of thousands of supporters, including Liberal Democrat campaigners, MPs and Peers, who descended on London from as far as Redruth in Cornwall to Wick in Scotland.

Speaking at the march, Vince Cable said:

We are now a Remain country. 60% now want to Remain and reform from within. Nearly 90% of young voters who weren’t allowed to vote in 2016 would

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Getting rid of May doesn’t resolve the worst thing about her deal

The papers are full of speculation that Theresa May’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. So far so like every other day for the past year or so.

If current reports are to be believed, up to 11 members of the Cabinet are poised to replace her with David Lidington, Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt pending a leadership contest in the Autumn.

This was always the danger though. If she got her deal through, she would always have been quietly – or not- dumped later this year and the new leader would preside over negotiations with the EU on a longer term trade deal. It is likely that that leader would be someone who was acceptable to the ERG. That means they would be after all sorts of impossible unicorns like a free trade deal where they had to comply with absolutely none of the EU’s rules.

There is no way the EU would agree to the carefully crafted single market being compromised – and nor should they. The level playing field across Europe is a very good thing and leaving it is an act of folly.

But it’s not only trade deals with the EU that need to be forged. It’s trade deals with the rest of the world. We would be at a distinct disadvantage negotiating on our own with China and the US. Vince keeps citing the example of Switzerland whose access to Chinese markets is next to nothing while the Chinese access to Swiss markets is almost total.

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Happy marching, everyone – and what you can do if you can’t go

Just over five months ago, I set out for London on a beautiful, sunny morning just so I could walk from Hyde Park to Parliament Square. That relatively short stroll took me about 4 hours. Sharing it with 700,000 like minded people was one of the best experiences of my life.

We were marching then for a People’s Vote. Today, the “Put it to the People” march takes to the streets of London as we face the very imminent prospect of leaving the EU in circumstances which will make us poorer and smaller in spirit as well as pocket. The behaviour of our Prime Minister this week, pitting this rather nebulous concept of “the will of the people” against MPs who are (mostly) trying valiantly to avert disaster, has been a source of national shame. The Prime Minister who says that the people “voted for pain” rather than for £350 million a week for the NHS needs to be shown how strongly we feel about staying in the EU.

I would love to be in London today but a difficult family situation means that I simply can’t be 400 miles from home. I will absolutely be there in spirit though. Those who are marching will show that it is possible for huge numbers of people to gather to make their point with  joy and kindness.

One tweet in particular from the many in my timeline who are heading to London made me very happy indeed:

I suspect that he won’t be the only one.

But what can you do if, like me, you can’t go?

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#RevokeArticle50 is now Lib Dem policy

As Theresa May twists and turns in Europe trying to square the Brexit circle, it’s worth noting what isn’t going to happen – any agreement in Westminster on her Withdrawal Agreement today, Friday 22nd March.

The House of Commons petition to Revoke Article 50 notification has become a record breaker with over 2 million signatures,repeatedly bringing the petitions website down and attracting thousands of signatures per minute. Many organisations are shifting to support revocation, and it seems this Saturday’s march will contain more Revoke groups than those supporting a fresh referendum.

Our party leadership has repeatedly claimed that we are marching for a Peoples’ Vote, which they call the “only way out” of Brexit. They have confused the goal – an Exit from Brexit – with just one possible mechanism to deliver it. The debate has moved on, and the party risks looking irrelevant to the Remain movement in these vital days.

The Lib Dems’ Brexit policy has included an option to revoke Article 50 notification since Autumn 2018, when it was introduced by ordinary members as a policy amendment, then opposed by the party leadership. Last week in York, Liberal Democrat members voted for Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake’s policy on Brexit. This updates our option to revoke:

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What happened when Vince went to Brussels

While Theresa May spoke to EU leaders, Vince met fellow Liberal leaders from across Europe in Brussels today .

Here he is with Catherine Bearder afterwards:

Over on the party website, Vince wrote about last night’s meeting with Theresa May and other leaders except Jeremy Corbyn, whose fit of pique he described. He then takes us through his conversations in Brussels, including the applause when talk of revoking Article 50 was mentioned.

I emphasised to the danger the Prime Minister is placing both the UK and Europe in, by arguing for a short extension which simply postpones the cliff edge we have been facing. What is needed now is a long extension to Article 50, to permit a real rethink and a final public say on the deal.

It is very important on these occasions that we get the chance to remind liberals in Europe that the Brexit story is far from over domestically: government ministers will always say they are ‘delivering the will of the people’. In truth, the ‘no deal’ exit Theresa May is threatening us with would be a total distortion of that result, abandoning many Leave voters as well as the 16.1 million who voted Remain. Now, around 60% say they would vote for Remain rather than the deal or ‘no deal’, so the will of the people is changing.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for my European counterparts was when I articulated our own position – agreed at conference just last weekend. If there is no extension, and we are approaching the ‘No Deal’ cliff edge, Liberal Democrats are clear: we should revoke Article 50 rather than crash out. There was a ripple of applause in the room when I said as much. Revocation would be a major step, causing huge unrest, but it is preferable to leaving without a deal.

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Part 2: Rutte, from Cameron buddy to May’s stern advocate

The liberal Dutch parties VVD and D66 have two distinct identities and historical predecessors. The VVD is more a car-loving, classical-liberal party with, since 1990’s leader Bolkestein, anti-federalist EU instincts, and has less of an environmental record than D66, who premièred gay marriage and are electoral reformers, very similar to the Lib Dems.

Contacts between the Lib Dems and D66 (both social-liberal) are warmer and broader than the VVD-Lib Dems. In Chris Bowers’ biography of Clegg, VVD figures once (p. 104), whereas D66 & Lousewies Vander Laan are on pages  102-3, 104 and 266-7 as Clegg supporters, also in the Coalition.

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May gets blunt Brexit warning from old Dutch ally & EU statesman Rutte: Part I

With the “Bercow Bombshell” (BB), his statement to the house on March 18th, quoting Erskine May’s 1844 anthology of Commons’ customary laws and Standing Orders, that Theresa May can’t have an eternal Groundhog Day rotation resubmitting her Brexit Deal, it has become impossible for May to offer anything new to the EU summit of March 21st.

According to Laura Kuensberg (late BBC evening news, March 18th), that means the EU has no reason to grant May a short prolonging of article 50, making it inevitable that the EU leaders will propose a long prolongation; which would result in a much softer Brexit (the UK having to remain subject to more EU directives, procedures and institutions than under the May deal).

To predict the mood of that EU summit, one can quote the French journalist in Newsnight (March 18th), who indicated that Le Monde, on March 15th, lost hope of May rescuing her deal, saying “let’s get cracking, let’s make a do-able (prolongation) arrangement”. Earlier, Macron said on March 13th that “the solution lies entirely in London”, which must offer a reason for prolongation to make him consider that. The French mood looks unwilling to tolerate any more British “one more heave” pleas for a prolongation; and to start asking concessions.

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Vince tells Sky that Corbyn walked out of meeting with PM because TIG were there

Vince Cable has just been on Sky News to say that the opposition leaders’ meeting with Theresa May was courteous but just went round in circles.

She was not willing to move at all.

So far so unsurprising.

But what was incredible was his revelation that Jeremy Corbyn was going to meet her with them. But as soon as he saw Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry there, he legged it.

So the country is in crisis and he is not prepared to behave like a grown up. I remember this sort of game playing in student politics days but not when the country is about to crash and burn.

It’s unbelievable.

I can’t actually believe the horrors that we have as PM and Leader of the Opposition.

I could not believe it when Theresa May said at Prime Minister’s Questions today that the Commons should stop indulging itself on Europe. Without a trace of irony.

It’s almost as if she had forgotten that we are in this mess purely because of the self indulgence of her party on Europe. David Cameron called the referendum to face own the right of his party and now we are all paying the price.

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Vince and other (non Labour) opposition leaders play hardball with May

Vince Cable, Liz Saville-Roberts, Ian Blackford and Caroline Lucas have been meeting the Prime Minister this evening. And they went in with intent to argue with her pretty robustly.

They basically said that Parliament should sit in continuous session until they can sort this out. MPs would not be bullied into making a choice between a disaster and a catastrophe.

And they added that they would bring forward a vote to revoke Article 50 “as a last resort”.

They issued a joint statement before going in to No 10.

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Green Party have been working together and meeting regularly for the past two years since the EU referendum.

“We agree that the House of Commons must formulate a plan that will give the EU Council the confidence to agree a longer extension beyond 30th June, so that by the end of next week legislation can be in place to prevent a No Deal exit.

“Parliament should now sit in continuous session until it can reach a decision and set out a clear plan.

“We will be pushing for the House of Commons to support a referendum on remaining in the EU, others will put forward their own positions. If the Commons cannot agree, as a last resort we would be prepared to take steps to secure a parliamentary vote on the revocation of Article 50.

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19 March 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

‘Govt treating EU citizens appallingly’ with Settled Status call charges

Responding to reports that thousands of EU citizens are being forced to pay for calls to the Home Office’s Settlement Resolution Centre for help with their Settled Status applications, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

EU citizens in the UK are our neighbours and our colleagues, our families and our friends. But ever since the Brexit referendum, they have been treated appallingly by this Conservative Government.

Making them pay up to 40p per minute to get help navigating the complex Home Office system for applying for Settled Status is just

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By Friday, we should be talking about revoking Article 50

Dangerous moments are like buses. You have decades free of them and then loads come along all at once. And every day our country’s future is in the hands of a gruesome coalition of extreme right and left  – the ERG, DUP and the Corbynistas – it gets more and more dangerous as Brexit day just a week on Friday looms.

We’ve kind of running out of road as far as Brexit is concerned. As things currently stand, we crash out without a deal in 10 days’ time.

That’s right. The biggest economic catastrophe ever will be underway next week unless someone does something.

We have constantly been demanding a People’s Vote pretty much since the referendum.

Theresa May has made it clear that isn’t happening.

Our policy passed in York last Saturday was clear:

Conference calls for the Government to revoke the Article 50 notification if the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving (relating to) the negotiated withdrawal agreement one week ahead of the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU.

So, this Friday, we have to start talking about revocation, assuming nothing else changes.

And we have to be quite loud about it. It is a nuclear option, but we’re in the most dangerous moment for our country in 80 years.

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UPDATED: Bercow rules out a third attempt by Theresa May to get her Brexit deal passed – how should the Liberal Democrats respond?

In dramatic scenes in the House of Commons, The Speaker, John Bercow, has ruled that Theresa May can’t hold a third vote on her Brexit deal without major changes to it. This appears to leave only five options;

  • No deal;
  • No Brexit;
  • Seek a long extension to allow time to negotiate a new deal;
  • Prorogue Parliament to allow a new session in which the deal can be brought back, and;
  • A General Election

Here’s some early reaction from the Party…

UPDATE – we’ve now received the official press comment…

Responding to the decision by Commons Speaker John Bercow to rule out the Conservative Government holding another vote on …

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16-17 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

Lib Dems: Revoke Article 50 if a deal isn’t agreed

The Liberal Democrats have today called for the Government to revoke Article 50 if no Brexit deal can be agreed a week before departure date.

The proposal, debated and passed by delegates at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York today, comes after a week of key Brexit votes in the House of Commons in which MPs again rejected Theresa May’s deal, ruled out no-deal and voted to extend Article 50.

Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

It is absolutely clear that Brexit will hit

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Is it time for Theresa May to admit that Brexit is impossible and retract the Article 50 notice?

If Brexit goes ahead in any form, it would need exceptionally-good government to address all the resulting challenges. The parliamentary chaos of recent weeks has shown a government a long way from this. Is it time to admit that Brexit can’t be delivered?

Theresa May has given it her best shot. It is hard to see anything else she could have done to make Brexit work. The game-changer of the last few weeks has been the sheer level of parliamentary dysfunction. It’s now clear that Brexit can’t happen on 29 March because of the sheer volume of legislation to be …

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Let us Celebrate European Democracy!

The European elections on May 26 are primarily seen as a problem best avoided for Britain on its way out, and an untimely complication for a people’s vote to remain. Even Remainers are surprisingly shy about them. Conventional wisdom says that the UK must first sort its membership question before a possible participation in these elections should be considered. I am arguing for the exact opposite.

A passionately fought election campaign for the UK seats in the European Parliament would be the meaningful People’s Vote. It would force the British public to have an overdue debate at a moment when public knowledge, interest, and passions are at a historic peak. It could divert the hitherto unproductive debate from in/out of the caricature of an organization to the question: in which direction and with which allies do we want our MEPs to push the EU?

For the first time, EU-minded candidates can make their case for remain and reform in a manner that will be noticed; pro-EU voters will, for the first time, see the purpose of the institutions, and the importance of sending constructive contributors as their MEPs. These candidates will surely compete against a full UKIP-field, which will struggle much more than in the past to promote its destructive agenda. Their old claims have been substantially debunked, and their old advantage from asymmetric mobilization should be gone. Besides, with the membership question still open at that point, sending Europhobes to the European Parliament makes little sense: if the UK remains, rebuilding relationships in Brussels and other capitals must be the UK’s top priority; otherwise, British MEPs serve no further purpose.

The Conservatives would be very hard pressed to field candidates and campaign. How shall they position themselves? Fielding UKIP-clones makes little sense and would be unlikely to succeed. But how would they campaign “positively, just in case”?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 30 Comments

More Brexit Logic?

Following yesterday’s Parliamentary votes, we now face the following

1. We cannot have a no-deal Brexit because Parliament has voted against it

2. We cannot have no-Brexit because the referendum voted for Brexit

3. Therefore, we have to have Brexit with a deal, but

4. We can’t have Theresa May’s deal because Parliament has voted against it twice

5. The groups opposing Theresa May’s deal are:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 19th Apr - 1:34am
    I agree with Caron. Extinction Rebellion are earning themselves and their cause a reputation for irresponsibility and lack of concern for the public. Getting media...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 19th Apr - 12:54am
    People take to the streets in protest for whatever cause they may have, not because they are thoughtless and undisciplined, or because they just like...
  • User AvatarGlenn 19th Apr - 12:26am
    Roland Remain is a valid form of Leave! Yeah and dogs are a valid form of cats and eating meat is a valid form of...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Apr - 11:53pm
    For once in a while, I think you are so so wrong, Caron. The word extinction is not an exaggeration. so what are you going...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Apr - 11:48pm
    Elliott Dodds would approve! (I suppose I would too though it would have saved me a load of grief.)
  • User AvatarMichael Sammon 18th Apr - 11:31pm
    I think this is a good article. I can't get behind Extinction R. The way they are behaving goes against a democratic principle. It just...