Tag Archives: brexit

Johnson has deeply split the Tory party – on an historic level

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It is worth standing back and pausing to consider how remarkable the historic split in the Tory party has been under PM Johnson is just a few weeks.

“One Nation” Tories have been the backbone of the Conservative party for a couple of centuries. But now they have been cast out of the party.

This extraordinary split can be seen in the words of two “One Nation” Tories who now sit in Parliament as independents.

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Sam Gyimah MP writes… Distorting reality is no way to run a country


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Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple was often described as using a ‘reality distortion field’ to convince himself and others to believe almost anything. Employing the techniques of bravado, hyperbole and sheer persistence, he could make an impossible task seem possible.

Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s Chief strategist – a known fan of tech titans such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk – seems to want to employ these techniques in pursuit of Brexit at any price and to crush the hopes of Remainers.

The Government’s multi-million pound advertising campaign telling us all to ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ on October the 31st is designed to subliminally suggest to the voters that this is the only option open to us. Everything we know points towards the fact that there is no orderly way to leave the EU by that date. Despite this, the Government’s social media, radio and TV adverts are running every day, as if in total denial of reality.

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Where we are – Lib Dem morning briefing

The Lib Dem press office has provided an excellent summary of where we are this morning, together with the agenda for Parliament today:

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WATCH: Jo Swinson say that a vote of no confidence would play into Boris Johnson’s hands

Opposition parties met today to talk strategy for the next stage of the Brexit Drama.

Over the weekend we had seen talk of a potential vote of no confidence this week.

Matthew D’Ancona explained yesterday on Twitter why this would be a mistake.

Jo Swinson has always been clear we can’t risk an election until we are certain that the threat of no deal on 31st October has been gone and it appears that she won the day.

Lib Dem MPs held a photocall outside the Commons and this is what Jo had to say:

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We must avoid being the sole obstacle to stopping a No-Deal Brexit

Boris Johnson has boxed himself into a corner – but he may not be the only one.

The prime minister has got himself into a situation where, it appears, he either has to break his promise to take us out of the EU on 31 October or break the law in terms of ignoring – or circumventing – the Benn Act that stops a no-deal Brexit. But circumventing may be an option for him; certainly the political commentators are far from confident that the Benn Act is watertight, and that at least one loophole exists.

Hence all the discussion about a vote of no confidence this week, as this may be the only way to guarantee that we avoid a No-Deal Brexit. But have our MPs perhaps also boxed themselves into a corner with their commitment to doing anything to avoiding a No-Deal Brexit yet at the same time committing not to prop up a Corbyn-led government, even a short-term one?

If the SNP and Labour are willing to support a motion of no confidence this week, it’s pretty certain the Plaid MPs and Caroline Lucas will follow suit. That would just leave the Liberal Democrats plus a handful of Independents – enoughto make the difference between success and failure.

There is a way out of this for Jo Swinson. It is for her to take the following position:

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27 September 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • No-deal prep for health supplies shows Brexit must stop
  • Boris Johnson is the champion of the well-off, not the people – Davey

No-deal prep for health supplies shows Brexit must stop

Responding to the National Audit Office’s report on the Government’s preparations on health and social care supplies under a no deal Brexit, Liberal Democrats Health and Social Care Secretary, Sir Vince Cable MP, said:

This report reinforces what we already knew from the Yellowhammer documents. We know that a no-deal Brexit would have a devastating impact on the UK’s health and social care supplies.

The risk is very real that traders may not

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The speeches that got away: Any form of Brexit would damage Ireland, north and south

“With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”

With that carefully crafted phrase in Dublin in 2011 the Queen set the seal on the unprecedented rapprochement between the UK and Ireland embodied in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998. In 30 years of violence over 3000 people perished, many of whom, to use one of the clumsy phrases from our hapless Prime Minister, “died in a ditch”.

A good friend of mine died in a ditch.

The GFA guaranteed Northern Ireland’s place in the UK unless its people by majority decide otherwise. The quid pro quo was absolute equality for all in the North and all-island co-operation to the maximum degree achievable without breaking that constitutional guarantee. This goes far beyond an open border for goods and people. The process is still going on as we speak.

Before David Cameron offered the people of the UK the unilateral right to leave the EU if a majority so wished, he did nothing to consult the government or people of Ireland. Is this not one of her Majesty’s “things we would wish had been done differently”?

And make no mistake – EU membership and the GFA are interlinked. One of the sections of the GFA speaks of “close co-operation between the countries as friendly neighbours and partners in the European Union.” A clause in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 implementing the GFA even outlaws any act or legislation by the Stormont Assembly which conflicts with any EU rule. So this talk of the GFA and EU membership being two separate issues is yet another of so many lies.

While the famous backstop is better than nothing and would be welcomed by virtually all businesses in Northern Ireland the truth is that any form of brexit would seriously damage Ireland North and South. That is one of the reasons why on reflection I support the motion before us now. We must constantly make it clear that

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24 September 2019 – today’s press releases

Chancellor must answer for black hole in the country’s finances

Responding to news that part of Corporation Tax revenue has been double-counted by HMRC, revising down the take for 2018-2019 by more than £4bn, Liberal Democrat shadow Chancellor Ed Davey said:

Today’s data from HMRC reveals a concerning black hole in the country’s public finances. Since this Conservative Government took office, an astounding £12.86 billion was mistakenly accounted for in the exchequer’s books – money that was never actually there. This is a potentially dangerous oversight for which the Conservative Chancellor is responsible.

Moreover, this highlights the Government’s irresponsibility in slashing corporation tax

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Labour’s own polling suggests losses in London and wipeout in Scotland

I think the Lib Dems need to declare the cost of staging Labour Conference as an election expense

So said a Labour friend of mine on Twitter in deep frustration at his party’s failure to unequivocally back Remain in chaotic scenes yesterday.

I genuinely feel for my friends in Labour who are horrified at what their party is doing. Some, like Alastair Campbell, voted Lib Dem in the European elections. I hope that they will feel able to do so at the forthcoming General Election, even  if they don’t want to say so out loud.

When a party gets it as badly wrong on the major issue of the day, the chances are that it will be punished at the ballot box and two reports suggest that this is exactly the fate awaiting Labour candidates.

And what is more bizarre is that it’s Labour’s own internal polling that is predicting the disaster.

The Scotsman reports that we and the SNP will be the beneficiaries of a Labour wipeout in Scotland:

Across the UK, only 58.7 per cent of 2017 Labour voters would stick with the party under those circumstances. The Lib Dems would take 19 per cent of the 2017 Labour vote, with 7.4 per cent going to the Greens, 3.5 per cent to the SNP, and 0.7 per cent to Plaid Cymru.

The figures are even worse in Scotland, where just 49.2 per cent of 2017 Labour voters would stick with the party. The SNP would take a fifth of Labour’s vote at the last election, with 15% going to the Lib Dems, 6% to the Brexit Party, and 3% to the Conservatives.

And the Evening Standard suggests that we will benefit from Labour’s losses in London:

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23 September 2019 – today’s press release

Swinson: Corbyn is a Brexiteer at heart

Responding to the news from Labour Party conference that it would not back Remain in a People’s Vote, under the guidance of Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

Jeremy Corbyn has again shown a total lack of leadership on Brexit and settled on yet another fudge on the biggest issue facing our country. Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly had the opportunity to put the full force of the Labour behind a Remain position, but he has once again shown today that he is a Brexiteer at heart.

He is determined to negotiate a Brexit deal if Labour win an election, despite all the evidence that there is no Brexit deal that is good for our economy, our NHS and our security. By refusing to say how the Labour Party would campaign in a second referendum, Jeremy Corbyn is letting down the millions of people who want to see the UK remain in the EU.

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We nearly lost our temper. But it worked out.

I was recently at an event speaking to a couple of Liberal Democrat friends – let’s call them Tim and Fiona. A friend of mine, Roland, who is a Conservative Party supporter walked up to us with a broad grin on his face. “Well, your party’s gone and done it. It’s abandoned any pretence of being democratic; promising to reverse the result of the greatest democratic exercise this country has ever undertaken. Good for us. You’ll lose.”

I introduced Tim and Fiona and Tim started to respond.

He started talking about only implementing the change if the party got an absolute majority. …

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Guy Verhofstadt talks Brexit some more…

This speech was given by Guy Verhofstadt MEP was delivered on Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg:

The British Parliament may be shut down, we are clearly showing today the European Parliament is not.

Eurosceptics like bashing Europe by saying that the European union is undemocratic. And they repeated that today. Well, Juncker or Tusk can do a lot but at least they cannot close the doors of this House. So, if the Eurosceptics here want to look again for a ridiculous comparison with the Soviet Union (as they often do), from now on they can point their finger to Westminster

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22 September 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

Well, I’m not sure what happened there, as I thought that I’d set this for 10.30 yesterday evening. Nevertheless, here are yesterday’s official press releases…

Scrapping Ofsted must be the beginning of the end of teaching to the test – Lib Dems

Responding to today’s announcement by the Labour Party that they will campaign to abolish Ofsted, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran MP said:

It is always good to see the Labour Party copying another key Lib Dem education promise, just as they followed us in calling for SATs to be scrapped, here they are trailing in behind again.

The

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Edinburgh march for Europe: Worrying news about EU negotiations and Alex Cole-Hamilton speaks

People took to Edinburgh’s streets today to protest about Brexit and climate change. The European Movement in Scotland organised the event which was very vibrant and well attended.

Our Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton gave one of the keynote speeches. As he finished, someone behind me (name redacted to protect the guilty) muttered “Understated as ever.”

Alex condemned the shutting down of Parliament and said that we would continue to fight Brexit on the streets, in the tv studios and at the ballot box.

Also speaking at the rally was the author of Article 50, Lord Kerr.

He was intensely critical of the Prime Minister, saying that Johnson and the truth were strangers and that even if shutting down Parliament wasn’t found to be technically illegal, it was definitely improper.

He also revealed that Boris Johnson’s negotiators had asked for everything relating to workers’ rights, environmental standards and social policy to be removed from Theresa May’s deal. This should not be surprising given that the agenda of the right wing Brexiteers is to turn this country into a Singapore style deregulated  economy where hard won  safety standards, workers’ rights and human rights are minimised.

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21 September 2019 – today’s press release

Labour must come clean about their Brexit plan – Lib Dems

Responding to reports that Labour will only decide which way to vote in a People’s Vote after a general election, Liberal Democrat shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

It is totally unfair of Labour not to be clear about their plan in government.

Through choosing whether to support leave or remain after the election, millions of remain Labour supporters could help elect a leave government.

Instead remain supporters must back the Liberal Democrats in a general election. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit.

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20 September 2019 – yesterday’s press release

Umunna: Thornberry must withdraw Taliban remarks

Responding to the comments made by Emily Thornberry comparing the Liberal Democrats to the Taliban, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Chuka Umunna said:

Emily Thornberry should withdraw her inappropriate remarks. Language counts – comparing the Liberal Democrats to a murderous organisation is no laughing matter.

It is also grossly insulting to the 6 million people who signed the revoke Article 50 petition launched earlier this year, including many of the Shadow Cabinet’s constituents.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that every vote for us is a vote to stop Brexit.

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Revoking Article 50 alone isn’t enough

With the prospect of a general election on the horizon, we have just finished another successful Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Bournemouth. Jo Swinson delivered a stirring first leader’s speech and Conference backed several new policy motions, most notably the party’s new policy on Brexit. A future Liberal Democrat Majority Government would revoke Article 50 and instantly stop Brexit.

British politics now has a party that is prepared to do its utmost to put an end to Brexit, either by getting a democratic mandate to revoke Article 50 or failing that, by securing a People’s Vote with the option to Remain in the EU. Brexit has developed into the biggest peacetime political and constitutional crisis arguably since the 17th century. It is shaking British politics to its very foundations with our constitutional settlement being tested like never before.

It is not just enough to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50, we also need to heal our broken democracy. At the time of writing this, the case against the prorogation of Parliament is playing out at the Supreme Court. The Executive branch has been made to answer a case presented to the Judiciary in regard to its actions towards the Legislature. There is conflict between the three branches of government.

Britain unlike many countries does not have a single written (or codified) constitution with clearly defined checks and balances. In the absence of this, Boris Johnson’s government is able to railroad Parliament by utilising the ancient powers of the royal prerogative to enact a five-week long prorogation. The potential for an extremely authoritarian government being able to take power is very real under the current British constitutional settlement; a fact which is underlined by the majoritarian nature of the first past the post voting system.

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Brexit? Scrap-it.

Revoking Article 50 was proposed by Chuka Umunna before he joined the Lib Dems, but nobody was listening to him in those days. Now its time has come, and it is set to be our bold new policy.

It has at least two advantages over a final say referendum:

  1. It is not open to the accusation that we want to re-run the original referendum because we didn’t like the result.
  2. Unlike No Deal, or the agony of another bitterly fought referendum, it really is a clean break. Whereas no-deal ushers in interminable years of haggling, in which the hapless public will never hear the last of the B-word, revoking cancels out Cameron’s fateful mistake and allows us to address the real problems facing the country.

Fateful mistake? Yes, the one thing most people will agree on, Leavers and Remainers alike, is that it would have been better if David Cameron had never inflicted the referendum on the country, causing nothing but division, trouble and strife. Nobody asked for it, nobody wanted it, it was foisted upon us as his bright idea to deal with the internal problems in his own party.

So if we cannot travel back in time and dissuade Cameron from plunging the country into chaos, scrapping the whole sorry business is about as close as we can get.

But surely Brexiters will not melt away and disappear, surely they will continue to agitate? Yes, but much of the force will go, once our course is settled and there is no immediate prospect of turning back. Because revoking can only be done if it is done in good faith, if it signifies a genuine intent to remain. We cannot revoke merely to obtain another 2 years of negotiating time.

Of course, we should be prepared for the inevitable cries of “undemocratic!” We hear this for instance from Stephen Kinnock, whose group of MPs are pressing for a soft Brexit, whilst Polly Toynbee accuses us of extremism.

Yes, it would certainly be undemocratic to revoke article 50 without a vote, but in the context of an election it is a perfectly reasonable option. And indeed, I predict it will prove very popular. A simple no-nonsense message, direct and unashamed, which takes the Brexit bull by the horns.

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Let’s get our messaging right on Revoke…

Sadly work commitments meant that I could only spend the weekend in Bournemouth this year, but it was well worth the travel (even the post-Disco train journey home). I was impressed by our new MPs and struck by the time they were spending with members as they build connections within their new political home.

I did manage to stay for the Europe debate and although I am happy with the final result, I did think that the opponents to ‘Revoke’ did win the debate in the hall, if not the vote. Niall Hodson (rising star) and Simon Hughes (established hero) were especially memorable and raised clear and credible concerns regarding this sudden shift in policy position. Sadly I do not think their comments were properly addressed during the debate and this left real concerns with some groups within our party; especially I suspect those from the social democrat legacy who rightly raise concerns over how such a divisive position may damage to our communities. It also does not help equip our activists with the messages needed to combat the inevitable attacks we now face from Labour and the Tories.

At the same time, I have been canvassing over the past two weeks, including tonight, and I am personally very comfortable in being able to defend this General Election position with voters on the doorstep. My own conversations currently focus on the two main lines of attack we currently face.

From Labour, we are now seeing accusations that we are overruling the will of the people as unthinking extremists no more tolerant than Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. Notably they are going to some lengths to misrepresent our position missing out some rather key information. It is therefore very important that we note:

  • As a party we are still prioritising delivering a People’s Vote ahead of a General Election.
  • However, due to Labour’s failure to support a People’s Vote over the past three years, it does now look most likely that we will have a General Election.
  • Therefore, in that scenario we are going put Remain on the ballot paper by recognising a MAJORITY Lib Dem government as a mandate for revoking Article 50 (and stopping this unbearable madness as quickly as possible).
  • Labour MPs in remain areas (including my own) are talking about revoking Article 50 but only to select groups in the now standard approach from their party in which they will say whatever they think the people you want to hear (our MP has also argued for a Norway model and supported Labour’s Brexit plan in the indicative votes earlier this year).
  • We are therefore being honest and clear; setting ourselves up in a strong position to support Remain in a referendum whilst giving the electorate a choice and a chance to Stop Brexit now.

From the Anarchist Party (formerly known as the Conservatives), there are similar attacks on “defying the will of the people”, but with more focus on this being somehow undemocratic. My response in these conversations are:

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What would you think are the odds on the Liberal Democrats winning most seats in a general election?

Given that we have 18 MPs right now, you wouldn’t expect the odds on the Liberal Democrats being the biggest party in the House of Commons to be that good.

Maybe 100-1, maybe 50-1 at best.

Well, not so much.

Look here and you’ll see a range between 9-1 and 16-1.

That reflects the fact that we have left Bournemouth with a clear path ahead.

We know that our primary objective at the moment is to stop Brexit in order to make creating the more caring, more equal society that we want to see so much easier.

We are clear that if the Liberal Democrats win a majority at the next General Election before we have left the European Union, the very first thing that Jo Swinson will do if she enters Downing Street as Prime Minister, before she even puts the kettle on, will be to revoke Article 50.

The political earthquake that it would take for us to go from 18 seats to 326 would be more than sufficient mandate.

If we don’t win an overall majority, we would go for a people’s vote with a Brexit option and the option to Remain.

Over the last few days, Jo Swinson has shown herself to be a calm, capable, infectiously enthusiastic, likeable and determined leader, surrounded by a talented team.

She has been in the job for less than 2 months and already she tops the popularity ratings.

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We must create a non Brexit dividend

The Liberal Democrats have been the proud standard-bearers of the rearguard action from the 2016 EU referendum. That Britain is still in the EU, and we as a party are enjoying a revival from the drubbing of 2015, are direct results of our commitment to what looked at the time like a lost cause.

But if, as seems likely, we go into the next general election with a policy of revoking Article 50 without another referendum, it will become absolutely vital for us to present to the electorate a ‘non-Brexit dividend’ – otherwise we will fail the very society we have claimed to bat for over several decades.

Last year I wrote in LDV that our party’s approach to the most pressing issue of our time should be summed up by paraphrasing Tony Blair’s dictum from his time as shadow Home Office Secretary – we should be ‘tough on Brexit, and tough on the causes of Brexit’. We have been brilliant at the first but not so good at the second. That must now change.

There are no policy disagreements here. Whatever the question was, Brexit isn’t the answer. The EU is far from perfect, but the idea that we’re better off outside than inside is preposterous. But precisely because Brexit makes no sense, we have to look at why so many people voted for it. And to dismiss it as just years of anti-EU hectoring by the press won’t bring people round to understanding our view.

Our line to date has been that we want a people’s vote. In other words, there is so much doubt about what the 2016 Leave vote meant, and how legitimate the mandate is, that we have to put it back to the people. But if we’re not now putting it back to the people, we have to show that we’re as tough on the causes of Brexit as on Brexit itself, or we really will leave ourselves open to accusations that we are illiberal and undemocratic.

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That Brexit conference motion in full – and links to all the papers for Bournemouth

Here below is the Conference Brexit motion in full. It is motion F17 “Stop Brexit” to be debated at 11:50 on Sunday. In the main Conference Agenda document, this motion simply appears as “F17 Europe” with no detail. This was to allow a motion to be written closer to conference that is up-to-date. The motion text appears in the Conference Extra document which has now been published.

You can find all the Conference papers here and the excellent Conference app is available for iOS/Apple and Android. With the app you can read through the agenda and fringe meeting list. You can then add items to your phone calendar so you can assemble your “wish list” of conference activities all in one place and get the usual reminders etc.

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Why calling for Article 50 to be revoked actually makes stopping Brexit less likely

I want to make the case that Jo Swinson MP’s proposed policy of revoking Article 50 if the Lib Dems win a majority government actually makes stopping Brexit less likely.

Calling for a final say referendum on any Brexit deal has been our defining policy for over three years and has brought this party back to life and back to electoral popularity. The reason a final say referendum has grown in popularity (with the public and in Parliament) is not especially because the arguments for voting Remain have become more persuasive than the arguments for voting Leave, but because it is seen as a sensible way of unblocking the Brexit process. If we change our policy and start calling for revoking Article 50, we risk narrowing our tent and losing people who are beginning to see the logic in having a second plebiscite on this issue.

On Tuesday Sir Oliver Letwin MP voiced his support for a referendum as a way to break the impasse. I fear we risk losing people like Letwin from this growing people’s vote coalition with this policy change. It makes us seem like the Brexit Party of Remain in that we will be perceived as Remain at any cost rather than willing to put our case to the public again in a referendum. In my opinion, the Brexit Party has made Brexit less likely as they have popularised the act of Brexit into an extreme ‘clean break’ scenario which has become untenable for a majority of MPs. If we pursue revoking I fear we will do the same to Remain.

I understand the attraction of going for revoke, we can better distinguish ourselves from Labour and clarify that we want to stop Brexit even further. This may have worked well in a European Parliament election with proportional representation, but in a General Election we need much broader coalitions. With our current policy we can say to even Leavers tired of Brexit that a referendum will end the Brexit mess for good.

So those of you going to Conference on Sunday please consider this policy carefully. We are the most pro-European party in the country, but we are also democrats and our policy of a people’s vote to stop Brexit is a product that people have just voted emphatically for in the European elections. Let’s not make our message Remain at any cost, but end the Brexit mess so we can move on and fix the real problems in our country.

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Brexit Impact for UK Citizens living in the EU outside the UK

“This is the fourth of a five-part series of pieces highlighting the issues of concern to Liberal Democrat members beyond our shores. For the first in the series, click here…”

The 2016 Referendum result has plunged the lives of the 1.2 million British citizens resident outside the UK in the EU into a maelstrom of loss and uncertainty. It is important to remember that about 600 000 of them are disenfranchised by the 15-year rule for overseas voting and thus many of the individuals most heavily and directly impacted by Brexit are those with no democratic voice in the process of the removal of their EU Citizen’s Rights.

As Prime Minister Johnson continues to wield the threat of a No-Deal Brexit to extract concessions from the EU and plays fast and loose with the rights of our EU citizen friends and relatives resident in the UK, he is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the other 27 EU Member States towards our Citizens, resident within their borders. For while it is in this British Government’s power to grant rights to EU citizens resident in the UK, British citizens must rely on the generosity of the EU Member States to maintain at least some of the rights that they depend on to conduct their lives.

There are a myriad of reasons why British citizens took the opportunities afforded to them by their EU Citizens rights and moved to live in other EU countries and the scenarios in which they now find themselves are no less diverse. There are those who depend on their Freedom of Movement in order to work across multiple countries, particularly those who are involved in the service sector, who will find themselves heavily impacted by the increased barriers to trade after Brexit.  Then, there are retirees, with pensions that have already seen their value fall by about 25% due to the Pound’s downward course since 2016 and now face the loss of their S1 reciprocal healthcare provision and the removal of pension uprating in 3 years time. So, while the British Embassy Outreach events seek to assure us that nothing much will change in our daily lives, it is actually hard to gloss over the fundamental erosion of rights and opportunities that is occurring.

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Revoking Article 50 is a highly risky strategy

Death is in charge of the clattering train!

(Edwin James Milliken)

The now seemingly inevitable general election that we are doomed to endure will without a doubt be one of the most divisive and decisive in British political history. Boris Johnson’s strategy is to divide the Remain vote and set himself as the people’s champion – no matter how irrational that theory is. Labour, who plan to try a rerun of their 2017 campaign and put Jeremy Corbyn forwards as a radical, reforming leader, and polling miserably for an opposition to a disastrous government. Dominic Cummings is intent on capturing northern working-class seats who want a no-deal Brexit, as he successfully did for the Leave campaign in 2016.

Both main parties will have to offer manifestos that capture the public imagination and offer clear paths forward. They will have unfunded spending sprees, promises of immigration caps, and patriotic tirades. No change there, then. The sceptre of Brexit does, however, add an extra dimension – the polarisation that has divided the country will shape any public vote.

For the Lib Dems to succeed, they need to offer a new message disenfranchised voters, beyond the boundaries of the Remain-Leave divide.

Jo Swinson’s announcement that the party will be arguing in their manifesto for an unequivocal reversal of the referendum result must be treated with caution therefore. Many voters on both sides of a traditional Liberal base – Tory voters despairing at the economic crisis of a no-deal and Labour voters outraged at Corbyn – are not natural Leave voters. Neither are they going to be brought over, I suspect, by the option of revoking Brexit without a public vote. Voters who want to revoke Article 50 would pick the Lib Dems as the main pro-European voice in Parliament as it is. This latest move brings little support and many even detract from it.

Brexit has divided many, but beyond the date Britain leaves the argument for revoking will become less. The argument for another referendum will become more credible, as the consequences of the exit become clearer, and the powerful Remain voice is no longer the establishment.

The recent surge in Lib Dem support and new recruits in parliament show that a new, radical liberal movement has palpable support nationally. This requires new policies that can bring swing voters over and ensure that the party does not continue to fall foul of the first-part-the-post method that shows no sign of being reformed.

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Jo tackles Boris on sexist insults

Twice this week, Boris Johnson has used sexist insults. In deeply dignified and mature behaviour for a Prime Minister, he called Jeremy Corbyn a “big girl’s blouse” the other day. And now we discover he called David Cameron a “girly swot.”

This is how Jo Swinson responded.

She took the fight for liberal values to him the other day and he was all over the place as a result. Jo is usually very prepared about what she is going to say, but she was clearly furious with his dismissive answer when challenged on his dangerous racism and she handed his backside to him on a plate.

Jo is fired up and ready to go when the inevitable election eventually comes along, after she and others have protected the country from government shenanigans which could force no deal on us.

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Lib Dem Lords vs Brexit: Middle of night special

It’s 12:55 am and the House of Lords just got to the amendments on the first paragraph of the timetable motion for the avoiding no deal  bill. They have been going for the better part of 11 hours now and the vote they are on now is, I think, the 16th. According to Lib Dem Peer Paul Strasburger, this is the most votes ever in a single session.

This is part of the Government’s attempts to filibuster out the Bill to stop a no deal Brexit in its tracks which was passed by the Commons earlier.

There were rumours on Newsnight that Jeremy Corbyn had done a deal with the Government to allow an election in mid October in exchange for the filibustering to stop, but this appears to have been averted after MPs of all parties prevailed on Corbyn to not trust a word that comes from the Government.

So, No 10, I understand, has told the Lords to keep filibustering.

The Lords chamber is still pretty full. Every single vote has been won by the Rebel Alliance. And by some margin. It is the most colossal waste of time ever.

Some of our Lib Dem Lords may be in their element. It does rather read like a Lib Dem constitutional review, but even after an hour of watching, I am ready to throw things at the telly.

If you are trying to frustrate business with hundreds of frivolous amendments, you might at least make them interesting. I mean, why not include proposals for unlimited marshmallows to be provided, or to play beer pong at the bar of he House?

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4 September 2019 – today’s press releases

Time to put Liberal Democrat Voice to bed for the night, unlike our Parliamentary Party in the Lords, who are preparing for a long night of voting to stop Conservatives filibustering.

It’s been a dramatic day in Westminster, although there seem to be no shortage of those these days. But the media operations continues regardless…

  • Kicking the can down the road will not prevent Windrush-style scandal for EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: We have a duty to stand with the people of Hong Kong
  • Davey slams Spending Review as “fantasy figures”
  • Jane Dodds delivers maiden speech in Parliament
  • PM cannot be allowed to use an election to

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3 September 2019 – today’s (other) press releases

Readers may have noticed that the news of Phillip Lee’s defection was fast-tracked onto our front page earlier this afternoon, but his dramatic move to the Liberal Democrat benches shouldn’t overshadow the good news story that was Jane Dodds’s arrival on our benches, especially given how many Liberal Democrat Voice readers lent a hand in Brecon and Radnorshire…

HS2 Should not be funded with a ‘blank cheque’

In response to reports that HS2 could be delayed for up to seven years, with an additional estimated cost of over £20bn, former Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

It is shameful that the Conservative Government

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All aboard the rollercoaster

A Prime Minister with no mandate intends to shut down Parliament to pursue a reckless agenda which could lead to food and medicine shortages. He threatens to end the careers of anyone on his side who defies him.

No, not the plot of some fanciful work of fiction I read on holiday. Quite possibly the plot of a film in a few years time.

There is a surreal feeling about what’s happening at the moment. A colleague of mine commented when we heard that Conservative MPs were being summoned to the garden of Downing Street that some of the rebels may not be allowed to leave.

An emergency debate today will lead to a Bill being introduced by the opposition tomorrow. That bill will compel the PM to ask for an extension to Article 50 to the end of January. If the European Council ask for it to be to a different date, MPs will have the chance to accept or reject that date.

Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats, have been heavily involved in planning over the Summer.  Our aim is ultimately to stop Brexit by means of a People’s Vote. That is something that was supported by 280 MPs the last time it was debated.

Boris Johnson knows that there is a good chance that this legislation will pass. It was pretty extraordinary to see Michael Gove refuse to confirm that the Government would abide by this new law.

Last night’s ultimatum, when he threw a general election into the mix, looks like it may not succeed. The only way an election can be called is if Labour votes for it and it looks from what their people are saying that they will resist that, at least in the short term. My worry is that an election called for 14th could be delayed to 31st once Parliament is dissolved, when it’s too late to do anything to avert no deal, by a Prime Minister who is  not exactly known for keeping his word.

This is a hugely anxious time for anyone with a liberal mindset. A government taking an increasingly authoritarian, anti-democratic course needs to be stopped. Every vote is going to shred our nerves and send our blood pressure through the roof. A longer term objective surely has to be to end the 15 minutes of drama that goes along with every Commons vote. Pressing a button would end that agony.

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  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Oct - 4:54pm
    Assuming the 6 or 7% figure is correct, which is a big assumption and probably not to be taken too seriously, it neither means £2000...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 21st Oct - 4:14pm
    Sounds like an interesting and thought provoking collection of essays. However the journey of the party over recent years gives me real concerns that the...
  • User AvatarDavid Garlick 21st Oct - 3:50pm
    I suspect that the govt did not press for a vote on Saturday as they were confident that they did not have the numbers to...
  • User AvatarDavid Garlick 21st Oct - 3:44pm
    I suspect that the Vote was not asked for yesterday as they were confident that they did not have the numbers to pass it. Today...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 21st Oct - 3:31pm
    In reply to George and William and as a member of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats myself, I think it is worth reading this press release from...
  • User AvatarMartin 21st Oct - 3:01pm
    For the record Phillip Lee has said this:I wish to make it clear that I share the desire of those who want society to embrace,...