Tag Archives: brexit

WATCH: Vince: Theresa May is rattled by People’s Vote movement

It’s a gorgeous day in Cambridge today, which is a good thing given that there is a local council by-election a week on Thursday.

Candidate Sarah Brown had Vince Cable along with her this afternoon:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | Leave a comment

WATCH: Jane Dodds on why Welsh Lib Dems are campaigning for a #peoplesvote on Brexit deal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been out and about at the Llanfair Caerinion Show with their Brexitometer and their campaign for a People’s Vote on the deal.

Leader Jane Dodds explains why this is so important for Wales

Their Brexitometer tells an interesting story given that Wales voted so emphatically to leave in June 2016. The tide is certainly turning.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Conference Message – Exit Brexit

Its conference season and the one time in the year when the Lib Dems get reasonably good news coverage. Our conference is first, followed by Labour and then the Tories. We need to get our message across about Brexit and not lose or have our message diluted by Vince’s announcement that he may or may not step down or lose the message to a difficult policy debate such as the one on immigration.

The focus for this conference should be on Brexit and how can we stop the UK leaving the EU. Lord Kerr believes that we can still withdraw the Article 50 letter without consequences especially if both sides agree.  The referendum was advisory, and therefore Parliament has the option to vote it down or reject Brexit. This is unlikely because the Tories on the right-wing of the party won’t allow this to happen plus they have the support of Democratic Unionist party and some Labour MP’s who support Brexit. The math is not there, especially if they fear a public outcry. Unfortunately, even as project lies unravels there are still many who still agree with the sentiment for leaving the EU no matter what the cost.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 9 Comments

Vince Cable calls for an “adjudicator” in any Brexit deal referendum, plus votes for 16 and 17 year olds


In a speech to the North East of England People’s Vote rally in Newcastle this afternoon, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

Some say a People’s Vote would cause aggro, all the lies of 2016 would be repeated. We need to anticipate that. We need an adjudicator who can look at what campaigners say and fact check them properly.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 27 Comments

What Other Countries Think About Brexit (or is it “The Great British Break Off?”)

I wanted to look at what other countries (mainly taken at random) thought about UK’s Brexit. You should note that the comments made by other nationals are made from their point of view, and that should be respected, even though you may not agree with them.

The French mainstream politicians have shown little interest for our Brexit. Many feel it’s a good for the EU as the UK has never really wanted to integrate and Brussels will be a more comfortable place after we leave. There is little sympathy for the 300,000 plus French civilians living in London as they are, incorrectly, seen as tax avoiders.

India had said, when May went to India promoting UK trade links, that they are in no rush to do a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain and will demand easier access for Indians nationals to migrate to Britain as part of any future trade relationship. The Indian High Commissioner has since reinforced this view.

The Germans think of the Brits as fellow ‘Northerners’ that work hard, share similar values and have the misfortune of not being born in Germany 🙂  of all the EU countries, the Germans have taken the Brexit decision most to heart. They now firmly believe in the European project and anyone, who rejects it, is seen as rejecting them.

BMW urged Angela Merkel to ensure that UK has a good deal as they are concerned that a failure to secure a good Brexit agreement with Britain could affect its £2.4bn annual exports from the UK. However, BMW has said if, after Brexit, customs delays are clogging up supplies they will seriously look to move – putting 8000 jobs at risk.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 4 Comments

“I’m scared. Please tell me that I’m wrong…”

Brexit will be a disaster. But it’s what comes after that really worries me.

Leaving the EU will be a catastrophe. Many firms will relocate their manufacturing to the EU. The alternative would be to lose easy access to just-in-time supply chains, and to have to store vast quantities of components in warehouses, at ruinous expense. It will mean a loss of control. We will lose our say in setting the regulations of the largest free trade zone in the world. In order to keep trading, we’ll then have to adopt these regulations with no say in how they develop. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 80 Comments

Scottish LibDems support cross-community “People’s Vote” rally in Edinburgh


The Guardian reports:

Campaigners demanding a public vote on the final Brexit deal rallied in Edinburgh on Saturday to increase pressure on the UK government.

Backers of the so-called People’s Vote gathered in Festival Square to call for Theresa May’s deal on leaving the EU to be put to the electorate.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Travel for Sport Post-Brexit

Following on from the European Athletics Championships last week in Berlin comes this letter from the Government on the free movement of those involved in sport after Brexit.

It was in answer to a letter from the Chair of the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, Lord Jay of Ewelme. It begins,

The Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords EU Committee recently concluded an inquiry into Brexit: freedom of movement in the fields of sport and culture. The Committee will publish a report on freedom of movement in the field of culture; this letter refers to the evidence that we took on sport, and asks for elaboration of a number of points that witnesses raised.

The inquiry considered how the UK’s decision to end free movement from the EU might affect the two sectors. We received written evidence from a range of individuals and organisations, and held two oral evidence sessions.

He goes on to ask the following questions:

  • Has the Government made an analysis of the number of EU27 citizens working in the UK sports sector?
  • Has the Government considered the effect of ending free movement on sports such as horseracing?
  • Has the Government assessed whether extra Tier 5 or Tier 2 visas will need to be issued for EU27 sportspeople wishing to enter the UK post-Brexit, and if so, how many extra visas might be needed?
  • How will non-elite EU27 sportspeople enter the UK after the end of the transition period? Will the Government introduce a preferential system for EU27 sportspeople, or will they fall under the rules that currently exist for non-EU sportspeople?
  • How, if at all, will the Government protect what Angus Bujalski called the “business of sport” from any negative effects associated with ending free movement?
  • Has the Government given any consideration to introducing a seasonal workers scheme for EU27 workers in the sports sector?
  • Has the Government assessed how UK sports, from the elite to the grassroots level, would be affected should the UK no longer be able to make use of the Kolpak ruling?
  • The Government’s current proposal is for an “association agreement” with the EU. Under the terms of an association agreement, would UK sportspeople be able to play in EU sports teams as “homegrown” players, post-Brexit? And could EU sportspeople continue to play in the UK as such?
  • How, if at all, will the Government protect what Angus Bujalski called the “business of sport” from any negative effects associated with ending free movement?
  • Has the Government given any consideration to introducing a seasonal workers scheme for EU27 workers in the sports sector?
  • Has the Government assessed how UK sports, from the elite to the grassroots level, would be affected should the UK no longer be able to make use of the Kolpak ruling?
  • The Government’s current proposal is for an “association agreement” with the EU. Under the terms of an association agreement, would UK sportspeople be able to play in EU sports teams as “homegrown” players, post-Brexit? And could EU sportspeople continue to play in the UK as such?
  • How, if at all, does the Government plan to ensure that sportspeople, other sports sector workers, and fans, will be able to travel and work in the EU after the transition period?
  • What will the Government offer to the EU in return?
Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

What IF… We Leave with no Deal

If the Tories throw caution to the wind and somehow manage to leave the EU because they put dogma above the consequences of leaving with no deal, what will the impact of that be for us?  Below is a small account of the possible results of that action. I put this forward to reinforce why the Lib Dems are against Brexit and now (as another possibility has emerged) an exit without a deal.

Currently, there are no queues of countries enthusiastically waiting to trade with us (as the Leavers said they would be) and even if there where it will take …

Posted in News and Op-eds | 30 Comments

WATCH: Vince Cable at the #PeoplesVote Bristol rally – We can win this

Vince went to Bristol yesterday to speak to the People’s Vote rally. His message was one of confidence and optimism – that the tide was turning in our favour and we could win a People’s vote.

Watch highlights here:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

Study says that a majority of UK constituencies now back staying in the EU

The Observer today suggests that as many as 112 seats may have changed from Leave to Remain.

In findings that could have a significant impact on the parliamentary battle of Brexit later this year, the study concludes that most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU.

The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave.

As a result, the trend is starkest in the north of England and Wales – Labour heartlands in which Brexit sentiment appears to be changing. The development will heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the party’s opposition to reconsidering Britain’s EU departure.

What will Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of the EU, do now? Will he bow to the evidence that Labour voters are flocking to stay in the EU or will he hold firm in his opposition even to the customs union and single market.

And what will those in the Labour Party do if he refuses to budge his position? Especially those in Labour seats who are now backing Remain?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 59 Comments

LibLink Christine Jardine: Hard Brexit makes these people fear for their lives

The headlines about the Government stockpiling medicines in the event of a hard Brexit will pass most people by. They’ll dismiss it as Project Fear.

For people with serious long term health conditions, it’s all pretty scary, though. They know that they could well pay the price of right wing Tory Brexiteers’ folly.

Christine Jardine has a friend with Diabetes, who tells her story in Christine’s Scotsman column, describing how she came close to death when he system got out of balance after a  stomach bug:

After 48 hours alone, dehydrated and struggling to breathe – with sky-high blood sugar – I called an ambulance. “I had become so dehydrated my body was no longer absorbing insulin. I lay in the back of an ambulance, unable to drink water unless it was lacing my lips from a sponge on the end of a stick. I was without insulin.

“Wheeled into high dependency, I grasped the consultant’s hand and asked her if I was going to die. “It was a real fear which I now feel again as I think about what crashing out of the EU might do for my health, and others.

“Every morning as I reach for the milk, I glimpse my insulin in the fridge door. “It used to mean nothing. Now, every morning, every evening, I consider how much I could go without. If I give up carbohydrates and sugar completely, how much Novorapid (the type I take to deal with carbs) would I really need? Could I possibly even change my diet so I needed nothing?

“But then there’s Lantus. That keeps me alive over the course of 24 hours. Latent. In the background. But always there. How little would I need? What could I survive on?”

Christine outlined what she intended to do about this:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Christine Jardine challenges SNP to back People’s Vote

As everybody from Gary Lineker to the Independent is now backing the People’s Vote campaign for  a referendum on the final Brexit deal – which started out as a Lib Dem idea in the Summer two years ago – there is one notable exception.

The SNP is the third largest party in Parliament. It could make the difference. Yet it continues to sit on its hands on this most important question.

Nicola Sturgeon could have used her meeting with Theresa May to say that the SNP will block the deal and push for a People’s Vote, but she didn’t. It was all …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

The dangers of the ‘people’s vote’

As the Chequers agreement and White Paper evince, the details of the interim package on offer are highly complicated. Submitting the terms and conditions of the Article 50 negotiations to a popular vote would be fraudulent. A referendum would be unlikely to elucidate the pros and cons of the Facilitated Customs Arrangement, the future of the City of London or the Irish backstop protocol. Rather, the hapless voter would face the same dilemma as vacillating parliamentarians – namely, a crude and invidious choice between the government’s Brexit deal and the cliff edge.

Ms. Miller & co make two gigantic misjudgments. The first is that, in the event of a referendum rejecting the Barnier package, the EU would be prepared to open up a new negotiation under Article 50 or to suspend Article 50 until the Brits sort themselves out. Having offered Cameron one new settlement for Britain in 2016 and May another in 2018, toleration of the British will be at an end. There will be no third negotiation. So what would be the referendum question? Moreover, on which side would Lib Dems be campaigning?

The second big mistake is to assume that the Remainers would ‘win’ the second referendum no matter the question. Opinion polls suggest that the outcome would be just as close as the first: certainly the assumption that Remain would win handsomely and settle the business of Britain’s place in Europe is an arrogant one, not supported by the facts.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 102 Comments

Women stand to lose a lot from Brexit

One of the amazing innovations with modern technology is being able to watch half forgotten programmes and films from bygone ages. Gainsborough Pictures conjure up an England of sunny summers, tea on the lawn and Saturday sing-alongs at the local theatre.

It is a charming, national picture of how things used to be – for a few. The power of cinema, however, gives the impression of life being like that for everyone. It most certainly wasn’t.

Along with many , I remember what it was really like in the 1960s and early 1970s. The three day week, when electricity was rationed. Or the strikes, dole queues, poverty wages, unsafe working conditions, slums and crumbling schools which were more the norm for most. Women had little status in society and many worked in poor, part time jobs, to keep the family fed.

For some, it was worse. Rented accommodation was the norm. The infamous ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ sign on a London property was recorded for one television programme and not considered unusual.

Change began in the 1970s. That was when we finally joined the European Economic Community. It marked a change in our realisation of who we were as a nation and the creation of new opportunities – economic, social and civic.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 50 Comments

Tim Farron reminds us how the Lib Dems have led the fight against Brexit from the start

Yesterday, Tim Farron sent round an email to party members the other night saying this:

Mine was a lonely voice two years ago.

The UK had narrowly voted to leave the EU. The next day, I committed the Liberal Democrats to fight back.

I said the British people must have the final say on any Brexit deal – with the option to Remain in the EU.

Back then, even our friends weren’t with us. Not the remain media or remain MPs from other parties. Not even the big remain organisations.

But together, we’ve changed all that.

Polls this week show a clear majority now back our position.

A national newspaper has backed our call. Many pressure groups are now calling for a vote on the deal.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t in Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s script.

And it hasn’t happened by accident. It’s thanks to you.

Together, over the last two years, we have:

  • Grown our party to nearly 200,000 registered members and supporters – and spoken with over 2.4 million voters in the last 12 months
  • Reached around 24 million voters online each year
  • Achieved our best local election results in 15 years

At last, there’s real hope. We can change this – but timing is crucial. We must step up the pressure for change.

So please – TAKE ACTION today, share our campaign with your friends and family – and help us reach 150,000 supporters:

All of this is absolutely fine, but he didn’t actually call for another referendum immediately. That came later in the Summer and Conference enshrined that position in a motion passed in Brighton in September. 

This is one for the nit pickers among us and for slight amusement rather than criticism. After all, it is absolutely nothing compared to say, forcing the country in a position where we have to stockpile what basic food and medicines we can to mitigate against a disastrous and extreme interpretation of a narrow vote to leave the EU which was driven by a Leave campaign that lied and cheated its way through and therefore can’t be legitimate. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments

Brexit options and the People’s Vote

Justine Greening’s recent call for a multi-option referendum on Brexit brings to the fore the central dishonesty of the Referendum. Brexit cannot just mean Brexit: if it is to happen it will have to be a specific Brexit. And it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no feasible specific Brexit that can command the support of all those who voted for Brexit in general in the referendum.

Following Greening’s call, Yougov carried out an opinion poll asking about preferences between three options, which we can call Remain, Soft and Hard. The Soft option was described as `along the lines that Theresa May has set out’ (i.e. the Chequers proposal), while the Hard option was described as `leave the EU without a deal’.

What was unusual about this poll was that it asked for voters’ second preferences as well as their first. This is essential if we are to understand the real popularity of the options, and what the poll reveals is very interesting.

First preferences show an exact 50-50 balance between Remain and Brexit in this poll. However, when we compare Remain with either specific form of Brexit it has a clear majority: 55-45 against Hard Brexit, 60-40 against Soft. While Soft is narrowly preferred to Hard (53-47), a large proportion of Hard supporters (nearly half of them) would abstain rather than choose between Remain and Soft.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

35 years on and the fight is more important than ever

Today marks 35 years since I joined the SDP on my 16th birthday. What motivated me then was a desire to turn this world into a kinder, fairer place where all people had power over their lives. My parents thought it was a rebellious phase that wouldn’t last.

Being involved in this party has brought me an extended family, my best friends, some amazing highs – Willie Rennie winning in Dunfermline, Christine Jardine and Alex Cole-Hamilton in Edinburgh for a start. There’s been the sheer joy of working with others on a common cause. You never know how wonderful the highs are if you don’t have lows and there have been many of them – the frustration, the disappointment of defeat and sometimes self-inflicted wounds.

The SDP and the Liberal Democrats have so often been on the right side of the argument, from Iraq, to Vince predicting the economic crash to Hong Kong to the Gurkhas to housing to civil liberties and protecting us from 90 day detention.

In some ways the world back then was very different. We are all so much more inter-connected now. In 1983 there was no internet, no 24 hour news cycle (breakfast tv had started only a few months before), no mobile phones. The other side of the world seemed so inaccessible.

There was injustice across the world with apartheid South Africa being the focus of our fight for human rights. The subsequent release of Nelson Mandela and the leadership he showed in creating an inclusive democracy shows what can be achieved from a seemingly impossible situation.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 24 Comments

The Brexit nightmare is dead

To paraphrase a man whose name I shall never again say or write.

The UK cabinet, with collective responsibility supposedly fully restored, made the following statements within 24 hours on no deal: “make sure that there’s adequate food supplies”, “obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure”, “that kind of selective snippet that makes it into the media, to the extent that the public pay attention to it, I think is unhelpful”, “well, I think that’s a rather irresponsible thing to be coming from the other side. We ought to be trying to reassure citizens on the continent …

Posted in Op-eds | 48 Comments

Big ideas abound at SLF Conference

Yesterday was a fantastic day out at SLF Conference. This annual get-together is always thought-provoking food for the social liberal soul. At this point I should say a massive thank you to the organisers for a great day – and particularly to our own Mary Reid who does so much to make the event a success every year.

Layla Moran followed in the footsteps of the likes of Nick Clegg, Tim Farron and Vince Cable in delivering the Beveridge Memorial Lecture. She’s been in the papers a lot this week with talk of un-named people supposedly trying to support the idea of her being leader. There is no suggestion that these moves have anything to do with her and it seems very unlikely that a new MP with a majority of 800 would be preoccupied with such things. In the last session of the day, she emphatically and genuinely endorsed Vince, saying he is doing brilliantly and is “the grown-up in the room” of British politics. Actually, I think our Golden Dozen are probably the most united, together group of Lib Dem MPs I have ever known. They are all working really well together.

One of the many reasons it’s great to have her as education spokesperson is that you can tell how driven she is. She knows from practical experience what the problems are and has some great ideas about how to fix them. Her frustration at being told to concentrate on the average children and leave the bright to teach themselves and the ones who needed help most to flounder so that the school could do well in league tables led her to find another job.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 14 Comments

No Deal would be horrendous – but let’s not forget that any other type of Brexit is bad news and we must resist it

So, let me get this right. Our own Prime Minister has admitted that we are now stockpiling food and medicines just in case Brexit goes disastrously wrong. Our ability to supply ourselves with the basics of life is now under threat because of her Government’s reckless appeasement of the extreme right of her party. And this really matters. It’s actually about whether people live or die. As my friend Jenny points out:

Tory extreme Brexiteers think that no deal would be just fine, we’d breeze through it. They also said that negotiating Brexit would be simple. No, it’s bloody complicated. And it would be even with a Government that didn’t turn up to the negotiations like a disorganised student turning in a badly crafted essay written in an all night Red Bull fuelled panic in the hours before the deadline. I’m slightly worried by all this ramping up of No Deal, though. I don’t want people to think that when the Brexit outcome is finally unveiled, that anything that doesn’t involve having to survive on barbecued rats, Baldrick’s coffee from Blackadder goes Forth and having our loved ones dying unnecessarily because they can’t get the medicine they need is in any way desirable. Just because we’re not cooking cockroach lasagne with boiled tulip bulbs from Theresa’s Brexit Cookbook and have our holidays cancelled because there are no flights anymore, it’s still a bad option that no responsible government would put before us.

Any sort of Brexit is really bad for this country. Don’t let the Government and the Brexiteers ramp up the possibility of No Deal to make the shambles they come back with look good in comparison. It really won’t be of any benefit at all to this country. How do we know? The Government’s own analysis tells us so. In January a leaked government document told us that we’d be worse off under every Brexit scenario. We can and should insist on a more ambitious approach – and the only thing that works is staying in.

The softest Brexit option of continued single-market access through membership of the European Economic Area would, in the longer term, still lower growth by 2%.

And some more misery:

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

Catastrophic supply chain risks of a “no deal” Brexit

Embed from Getty Images

It’s not fashionable but I’m willing to put in a good word for Theresa May. Albeit unnecessarily and misguidedly, she has worked very patiently to stitch together some sort of tenuous British cabinet negotiating position for Brexit. You have to admire her patience. I was also impressed but some of her words when she announced the Chequers deal to parliament on July 9th:

The friction-free movement of goods is the only way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and it is the only way to protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which millions of jobs and livelihoods depend. So at the heart of our proposal is a UK-EU free trade area that will avoid the need for customs and regulatory checks at the border and protect those supply chains.

Those words suggested to me that Theresa May and her chief negotiator, Olly Robbins, have “got” just-in-time and how vital it is to our modern economy.

For a long time, whenever I tried to explain my career, I could see people’s eyes glazing over. Trying to explain in the pub that I worked in “logistics” was a concept only people who served in the army understood. I used to say I worked “in computers” instead. It was much easier. So, it is quite nice to finally see my career having some relevance to current affairs.

I spent 35 years working in IT supply chains. This involved relying on daily trucks from the Netherlands. Day after day. The crux of the job was to reduce inventory to a bare minimum, to maintain high service levels for the customer and to minimise cost. I spent those 35 years focussing laser-like on that subject – cost, service, inventory.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 61 Comments

Good weather to bury bad news?

Embed from Getty Images

Whilst enjoying listening to the county cricket commentaries I watched the news yesterday with half an eye.

Hello – did they really just do that?….

…I thought.

Yes, the government dumped out a plethora of inconvenient announcements just as MPs packed their sandals and beach balls for the summer recess. (What West Wing viewers will know as “Take out the trash day”)

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 7 Comments

Horizon Europe – a potential blow for British science and technology?

One of the more obscure (at least as far as the general public is concerned) areas of worry resulting from Brexit was British participation in Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Programme for Innovation and Research, which invested significant sums into European research and development programmes, linking researchers across the Union for that purpose. The transitional period appeared to allow British participation until its end, even if Conservative politicians seem determined to put that in doubt.

Now, the European Commission are proposing a new version, Horizon Europe, intended to take the programme forward in …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

On Vince, the Lib Dems and this supposed new party

The Sunday Times reports (£) that the reason missed that vote the other night was because he was at a meeting discussing the formation of a new centre party.

A few brief thoughts from me:

First of all, I think that if it is finally going to get off the ground, @libdems need to know about and work with it where it shares our values. It would be daft to stand against each other in an anti-Brexit election.

It may be that we can only work together on the anti-Brexit stuff because @libdems couldn’t work closely with a party that didn’t have a clear strategy to tackle poverty and inequality, tackle climate change, reform our political system & champion human rights & civil liberties.

So it’s very sensible for Vince to be in the discussions. He may be telling them that the best thing they can do is join the Liberal Democrats because we already have the campaign infrastructure and the Commons presence and experience.

If Vince wants @libdems to co-operate closely with any new party – and we’ve heard about lots of these which have never got off the ground – he will have to persuade our Conference to vote for it and there will be some spirited resistance.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 96 Comments

Vince Cable writes: Lib Dems will be at the forefront of political realignment

It is a year today since I became party leader, and a great deal has happened since.

Thanks to the efforts of so many of our members and campaigners, we had the best set of local election results of the three main parties in England in councils gained and the best overall for us in fifteen years.  We have every reason to hope that next year will be better still – we are already preparing.

The by-election in Lewisham East was our best against Labour for a decade.  Local council contests each week continue to reinforce the positive message our surveys are giving us.

Whatever toxicity attached to the Lib Dem brand after the Coalition has substantially dissipated.  Large numbers will vote for us if they think we have a chance of winning and if there is an effective campaign

As well as winning elections, we are setting out big ideas to change the country.  A few weeks ago, I detailed an ambitious but realistic approach to house building, describing what could be achieved without the impediment of ideological prejudice.

I have also launched a series of initiatives to confront the issues thrown up by the new digital economy and deal with the ‘data giants’; a group is looking at how best to support lifelong learning for people whose future is potentially subject to the upheavals of technological change; another will soon look more broadly at the impact of new technologies like AI and how best to respond to them.

On the core economy, I have set out a revised approach to fiscal and monetary policy which builds on, but does not destroy, existing structures.  We have carried out serious work on land value taxation, which will come before Conference in the Autumn. And I have described how in practice we create a corporate structure which is best described as ‘responsible capitalism’.

On public services, Liberal Democrats continue to lead the argument about the mechanics for funding health and social care with the advice of leading figures in health policy. The Federal Policy Committee has recently set up a new health working group to take forward their work, and to continue our leadership role in mental health policy pioneered by Norman Lamb. Layla Moran, our education spokesperson, has published proposals to address the concerns of parents, teachers and schools, which we endorsed at conference.

The politics of Brexit is moving slowly but substantially in our direction.  Where our calls for a final say on the deal for the public were once derided, more and more people are now joining with us in that campaign.  A highlight of my year was addressing the 100,000 people amassed in Parliament Square for the People’s Vote march.  We remain the leading political force arguing that whatever the parliamentary wranglings over detail, the best course for Britain is to stop Brexit altogether.  Giving the people a choice at the end of this dismal negotiating process is the best way to obtain an exit from Brexit

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

Baroness Shas Sheehan writes…Lib Dems lead the opposition to Brexit

This week I was chatting to a (pretty senior) press person about the forces of gravity holding Lib Dem polling figures below the double-digit mark. 

Their response was that we were playing it too safe and needed to do something alarming. This was whilst waiting for the Commons’ votes on Monday night. Neither of us thought for one moment that that event might be our current leader and our former leader missing a Commons vote on a Jacob Rees-Mogg amendment designed to make the cobbled together Chequers agreement even less palatable to the EU. The Government won the vote by a whisker – just 3 votes in it. 

So, the fact that 17 Labour MPs went awol and 4 (if you include Kelvin Hopkins) voted with the Government, was lost in the excitement of Vince and Tim having been let off the whip by prior arrangement at a point when it had been deemed safe to do so, and Jo had been paired.

Of course, had it been realised that Labour were going to, unexpectedly, oppose the Government (a rarity when it comes to Brexit legislation) and the vote was going to be a close one, then our arch-remainer leader and former leader would have been in the lobbies. So, the expected, comfortable, Government victory margin was reduced to three. 

It’s a shame they missed this vote, but let’s not despair – we are nowhere near the end of the long Brexit road. There are opportunities aplenty coming up when Vince will be leading our Commons team trying to stop the Government taking a wrecking ball to our economy for a pipe dream.

It’s becoming clearer by the day that the only logical end to this sorry saga will be for the public to have the final say. This has been the Lib Dem position from the start.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

Another way out of the Brexit mess

I have never been on an aeroplane and I do not have a passport, but think of myself as a European. I am also a patriotic Englishman and I love the country in which I was born. My father came here at the age of seven with a sun-darkened skin and speaking with a Greek accent. He was born in Smyrna in 1922. His life, and those of his parents, and my mother’s parents, and my partner’s grandparents were all scarred and disrupted by war and conflict, the consequences of which still reverberate in our lives today.

And now my country has embarked upon a course which could have terrible repercussions for new generations to come. Our government, if that is what it is, appears to have no consistent strategy and no realistic vision of the future. Theresa May, like Donald Trump, shamelessly argues that black is white, and an hour later that white is black, and gets away with it. How can this be! Partly it is because there is no opposition in the Commons worthy of the name: Harold Wilson, Roy Jenkins, Dennis Healey, Jim Callaghan and Ted Heath would have eviscerated the third raters who now sit on the government benches in a matter of hours. But it is also because there seems to be no plausible way out of the situation the referendum landed us in.

I was on the People’s March, but I don’t support the Party’s policy of a  referendum on the deal. Leaving aside Justine Greening’s absurd proposal for three options, if a second referendum again supported Leave it would at least settle the matter, but although a Remain vote would ameliorate the economic disaster that will otherwise afflict this country it would deepen the divisions that the referendum created and poison our political system for decades to come.

Posted in Op-eds | 57 Comments

The Big Brexit Squeeze

We all know The Squeeze; when we alert voters to the binary choice forced on them by First Past the Post, asking them to drop their preferred option and settle for us.

The Squeeze runs through Brexit. Theresa May tells the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers that they might loathe her Brexit proposals, but the alternative is Corbyn.  A wider, presumed “Leave,” the audience is told the alternative is “no Brexit at all.”As that would suit me down to the ground, I am told that HARD Brexit awaits if I fail to get behind whichever fantasy proposal is currently touted.

The biggest squeeze of all, though, maybe around the corner. The government nears collapse; a collapse that would leave the UK rudderless, unable to agree on any deal and, so, inexorably be sliding into a calamitous No Deal Brexit. A General Election, under the First Past the Post system that did so much to create the crisis, would not help. FPTP enforces the party blocks, limiting the choice of the electorate which it then further distorts.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 5 Comments

Tories cheat like a Vote Leave campaign over crucial customs union vote

This country is currently on a path to economic self-destruction because of a narrow vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Today we discovered that the Vote Leave campaign had cheated. And, by the way, that monumental news isn’t even on the BBC’s front page any more.

Tonight, this country was helped along its path to economic self-destruction  because of a narrow vote – 307-301 against an amendment which would have kept us in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. The desperate Tory government pulled a particularly dirty trick to win that vote.

The pairing system has long been a civilising feature of our Parliament. When an MP is indisposed for some reason or needs a night off, they can be paired with an MP who would vote the opposite way. Imagine the sorts of circumstances that you might need that in – maybe a dying parent, or a sick child, or your own illness, or being on maternity leave. Tonight, Jo Swinson, whose baby is just two weeks old, was paired with Conservative Party chair Brandon Lewis. He voted in the crunch votes. He didn’t vote in the earlier votes.  Jo was justifiably furious:

The incident even got a Twitter moment.

After a couple of hours, Lewis tweeted that it had been an honest mistake:

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct - 1:54am
    Would very much agree with friends here who say this is all in good fun, and really worry when some who are known for their...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Oct - 10:03pm
    I understand Facebook made 1.3 billion pounds profit in the UK last year and paid just over 15 million pounds in tax. I remember Mr...
  • User AvatarTeejay 21st Oct - 9:42pm
    "Your generation is being betrayed by mine. By those who look to the past, who see Britain as a museum." If there were to be...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 21st Oct - 9:36pm
    Jayne Mansfield: Satire is a legitimate part of campaigning politics. Your apparent failure to get this suggests you are the kind of person who tends...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 21st Oct - 8:57pm
    @ Alex Macfie, Sorry Alex, I think that as a party you need to decide whether Brexit is a serious matter and in order to...
  • User AvatarAdam Bernard 21st Oct - 8:50pm
    Harrow local party last week issued a statement on this - relevant part: "We believe that a special conference is an egregious waste of money,...