Tag Archives: coronavirus

21 September 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Ministers must put energy into fixing test and trace to “get a grip” on virus
  • PM must fix the test and trace system

Ministers must put energy into fixing test and trace to “get a grip” on virus

Following today’s briefing from Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, warning of “significant rates of transmission” of coronavirus in parts of the UK, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

People right across the country will be alarmed to hear that, despite the heartbreaking sacrifices of these past six months, we are now facing a second wave of this dreadful virus. It’s clear that there will be difficult times ahead.

There is no excuse for the fact that our test and trace system has been barely functional for weeks. Rather than talking up their “moonshot” plans for future testing, Ministers should be putting all their energy into getting the system sorted right now to get a grip on the virus.

Equally, given the rapid changes in regulations, Ministers must also ensure crystal clear communication about new lockdown restrictions. This is about making sure people know the best ways to protect themselves and their loved ones, and that our hospitals, care homes and schools have all the equipment and resources they need to reduce the risk of transmission.

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An interview with Cllr Gareth Roberts

Gareth Roberts, Liberal Democrat Leader of the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames (LBRUT), tells York Membery about the challenges he’s faced in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, the specific Lib Dem approach he’s sought to pursue, and his misgivings about the Johnson government’s response to the pandemic…

How has the LBRUT coped with the fallout from the pandemic?

Reasonably well. Every local authority has been hit in one form or another but in terms of keeping infections down, limiting the number of deaths in the borough, keeping residents and businesses supported and, vitally, keeping residents informed we’ve performed well. And that’s not me being some Town Hall Trump; we conducted a poll of residents recently. 63% of respondents said Richmond was doing a good job in responding to the pandemic, whereas 61% thought the Tories at Westminster was doing poorly.

What are the biggest covid-linked challenges that the council has faced?

School closures was a biggie. I think people have largely forgotten how contentious that was. Some residents thought it was entirely wrong, some wanted us to move far more quickly and there was a real lack of direction from the Tory Government. More recently, the real challenge has been anti-social behaviour – before the pubs reopened people would meet friends in their local parks and green spaces and though most behaved themselves there was a hardcore of people who stayed far too late, were far too rowdy and used the parks (and even neighbouring front gardens) as toilets.

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I’m not a COVID sceptic, but there must be no more free passes for this incompetent government

I’m not a COVID-sceptic. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I am willing to accept that the government needs powers to fight the virus. But it’s time to face up to the fact that the opposition has given Boris Johnson more than enough room. There should be no more free passes to restrict our day-to-day freedoms while his band of incompetents are in charge. As much as nearly everybody I know accepts collective action and the need to build consensus, we must also strongly oppose more unchecked powers.

The record is pretty clear and it has led to thousands of unnecessary …

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18 September 2020 – today’s press releases

  • “Overpromising but underdelivering” on testing will damage public trust in Government
  • Davey: PM must protect lives and livelihoods ahead of second wave

“Overpromising but underdelivering” on testing will damage public trust in Government

Responding to reports that the R rate has risen to between 1.1 and 1.4 in the UK, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

Figures showing the rapid spread of COVID will cause untold worry to families across the UK. Many will be disheartened to see the return of necessary restrictions on their daily lives.

We were promised a “world-beating” test and trace system to prevent a second wave.

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A Belgian, liberal perspective on handling the pandemic

Leading Belgium’s #COVID19 task force, Federal Minister Philippe De Backer from our sister party, Open VLD, has shown leadership and resilience in the face of crisis. I thought that our readers might be interested to see a liberal response to this crisis.

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Coronavirus crisis test for education services

After becoming York’s Executive Member for Children’s Services in 2019, I immediately started on the task of putting together an improvement plan to deliver the best possible services for the future generations in York. But, eight months into the role, we found ourselves unexpectedly having to deal with a national emergency which would see both Children’s Services and Education facing an unprecedented crisis. Our administration’s response in York can be best characterised as converting what had seemed ‘impossible’ into ‘possible’.  Yet the contradictions, confusion and periods of silence from our Government, have turned the challenge of the last few months into something which will shape our services for years to come. 

Since the introduction of ‘lockdown’ in late March, York’s teachers and school staff have gone above and beyond to help young people, parents and carers through this incredibly difficult time.  Whilst our city’s 63 maintained schools, academies and special schools have been taking care of our most vulnerable students and the children of our amazing key workers, the Government has stoked-up the levels of confusion and distress through ever-changing guidance on safety regulations, timescales for re-opening as well as the support available for the most disadvantaged students. 

Like elsewhere in the country, teachers here in York have been doing fantastic work in incredibly difficult and unusual circumstances. I am proud of the support that they have given pupils throughout lockdown by providing stimulating online learning materials across all year groups.  Government was quick to note the importance of providing access to remote learning through initiatives like free laptops and a temporary data charge exemption on sites which provide vital education for children, yet it was months into lockdown before the most disadvantaged children would receive any such help. York’s first delivery of laptops, allocated under arbitrarily strict Government guidance, arrived at the end of June.  And we have yet to receive a response to a letter sent to the School’s Minister warning of the urgency of the provision of this help. 

Similarly, Children’s Social Services, caring for the most vulnerable children in the city, had to adapt quickly to working more remotely.  Because fewer face-to-face meetings could take place due to health guidance, our staff put incredible effort into finding ways to contact all children and families safely. With a growing increase in the demand for such services as lockdown progressed, staff have gone above and beyond in making sure no child in need is left behind at this challenging time. 

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6 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Welsh Government must extend shielding support to avoid cliff edge
  • Liberal Democrats: Ministers are playing fast and loose with safety of NHS staff
  • Liberal Democrats: Jenrick’s planning reform won’t solve housing crisis

Welsh Government must extend shielding support to avoid cliff edge

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent extension to the support for those currently shielding, warning people could become “cut off” when the support ends next Sunday.

Under Welsh Government plans, the support currently available to those shielding, including foodboxes, will end next Sunday when shielding is paused. Local Authorities will then assume responsibility for providing additional support upon request.

However, new figures published by Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales have revealed that 88% of those shielding are concerned about a return to work, with 12% so concerned that they have said they will refuse to go back – even if they lose their job as a result.

This creates a risky situation where thousands could face severe hardship by being cut off from existent support before they feel able to return to work and before Local Authorities can establish a proper functioning support network.

In response, Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the Welsh Government to extend the support currently provided until the end of September, to avoid people being left isolated and give local authorities time to establish their own support schemes.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

I am deeply concerned that when the support for shielding ends next Sunday we will see thousands being cut off from the support they desperately need. Although some shielders are ready to go back out into the world, many still feel it is too unsafe and plan to stay home for longer.

While some of those are lucky to have a good local support network, many sadly do not. We must make sure these people are not be forced decide between unsafely returning to work or going without basic essentials.

That’s why we’re calling for the Welsh Government to extend the support currently available to those who are shielding until the end of September. This will provide a transition period, stopping them being cut off while also allowing Local Authorities time to talk to shielders and establish their own tailored support schemes.

I am grateful to Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales for raising this issue and hope the Welsh Government will act quickly on this. We must give shielders the reassurance they deserve.

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30 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Highest levels of excess deaths demands Government learn lessons
  • Liberal Democrats call for review into school exclusions
  • Liberal Democrats: Government are failing survivors of sexual violence
  • Government must step in with Green incentives to save the car industry
  • Liberal Democrats: Record high of self harm in prisons shows extent of crisis
  • Leaked letter shows thousands of care home residents being exposed to virus

Highest levels of excess deaths demands Government learn lessons

Responding to ONS statistics that reveal England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe in the first half of 2020, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The unforgiving consequences of the pandemic have left too many families mourning loved ones. It didn’t need to be like this.

It is clear the Government has made mistakes. With a possible second wave occurring in countries across Europe at the moment, the Prime Minister must launch an independent inquiry immediately.

This is not a time for protecting political interests. This is a time to learn from mistakes and protect the country from more heartache.

Liberal Democrats call for review into school exclusions

Responding to new figures for permanent and fixed-period school exclusions in England for 2018/19, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

These figures make appalling reading. Every year thousands of children – often the most vulnerable – are being written off by our education system. Children eligible for free school meals are more than four times as likely to be permanently excluded – that says it all.

This Government should be ashamed that they have presided over continually high rates of permanent exclusion. Cutbacks to school budgets undoubtedly play a part in this. So too does the culture which prizes exam results and league table rankings over care and support.

We need see action to address the disproportionate number of exclusions among pupils on free school meals, as well as Black Caribbean, Gypsy and Roma, and Traveller pupils. That’s why we need to see a review into disparities in school exclusions.

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28 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry
  • Davey: PM must take second wave risk seriously
  • Government gaps in support for freelancers leaving employers to pick up the tab
  • Government must apply same human rights standards to US when it comes to exports
  • Dodds: ‘Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a vital part of our post-Covid recovery’
  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry

    Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister with a plan for an immediate inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ed has called on the Prime Minister to appoint Martin Forde QC as the chair of an independent coronavirus inquiry and to start work immediately. Martin Forde was the independent adviser on the design of the Government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme and is chair of the independent inquiry into Labour’s report on the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

    Ed also released proposed Terms of Reference for the independent inquiry agreed to by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

    A spokesperson for the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice said:

    Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice are relieved that Ed Davey has seen the urgent need for a rapid inquiry.

    The Government’s own ‘Preparing for a challenging winter 20/21’ report (The Academy of Medical Sciences) predicts over 119,000 excess deaths this winter if urgent action is not taken now.

    That action has to be informed by this transparent inquiry. It’s time the Prime Minister put the well-being of the nation above politics.

    Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

    The Prime Minister confirmed to me weeks ago that there would be an independent inquiry, but we have seen no action from the Government since. Bereaved families I speak to are so disappointed that the Government is yet to begin an inquiry. They just don’t want any more families to go through what they have.

    The coronavirus threat remains very real. Were a second wave to happen during the winter, it could be even more deadly and damaging than the first. The Government must immediately start an inquiry so that we can learn from mistakes and properly plan for a second wave.

    This plan has been agreed by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice. I hope Boris Johnson takes it seriously and sees it as an opportunity to get an inquiry going as soon as possible.

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22 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed
  • All Hong Kongers must be given right to live in the UK
  • £2.9 billion aid cut shows Government abandoning world stage

Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed

Responding to ONS statistics published today on the impact of homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Coronavirus has clearly impacted every aspect of life, including the wellbeing of parents and children, and the quality of education the majority of children receive. We must ensure no one is left behind.

If it wasn’t for years of cuts to our schools and government failing to consult adequately with teachers and school leaders, it wouldn’t be this way. Ministers must now increase the necessary provision of laptops and introduce a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.

Moreover, the Government must address the mental health impact of the pandemic by signposting the appropriate support services to every household, and properly funding the charities that provide those services.

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15 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats secure PM commitment to independent inquiry
  • Consequences of Government cuts for BBC is now clear as day
  • Failing Graying has undone PM, now ISC must publish Russia report
  • PM running scared of real scrutiny from Intelligence Committee

Liberal Democrats secure PM commitment to independent inquiry

Acting Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has today secured a commitment from the Prime Minister to an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis and called for the timetable to be set out immediately.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ed Davey warned that under Boris Johnson’s leadership the country has suffered “one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate of health and care workers.”

Making reference to Boris Johnson’s support for an independent inquiry into the Iraq War, the Liberal Democrat Acting Leader again urged the Prime Minister to “commit in principle to a future independent inquiry”.

In response, the Prime Minister accepted his Government will “learn the lessons of this pandemic” and confirmed there will be in independent inquiry.

Ed Davey was the first party leader to call for an independent inquiry, back on the 21st of April, and the Liberal Democrats have consistently made the case since.

Speaking after the exchange, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

The Coronavirus crisis is taking an enormous toll on people and our country.

It is clear the Government has failed on so many fronts – failing to prepare properly for a pandemic, failing to protect care home residents and social care workers, and failing to properly communicate their plans and so much more.

With so many loved ones lost, people deserve to know what happened. After months of refusing the public that opportunity, I am pleased the Prime Minister has finally accepted Liberal Democrat demands for an independent inquiry.

The Prime Minister must now set out the timetable of this inquiry, and it must begin as soon as possible. The Government must be held to account to ensure that the same mistakes are never repeated.

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Every so often, it’s worth having a look at this table…

OK, I know that countries have very different ways of reporting deaths from Covid-19.

But this table, from Worldometer (excluding a couple of micro-states), gives us some idea how the UK is doing in terms of Covid-19 deaths per million of population.

Badly.

We are second in the world for the rate of deaths, after Belgium.

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Who gains from Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Statement?

It is easy to criticise Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Statement for not doing enough. The Chancellor had a difficult task to assess what size of economic stimulus would be effective.

His main aim was apparently to create jobs for those who had lost them or will be losing them soon. But the Statement.is very disappointing because it doesn’t deal with the realities of the situation for lots of businesses. Social distancing is very likely still to be in place after October, so it just will not be possible for many businesses to provide their services to as many customers as before lockdown.

He should have included a new coronavirus staff retention scheme (turnover based). It should have provided a proportion (say 80%) of the difference between the takings of a business in a month compared to the relevant month in 2019, for businesses that can demonstrate that because of social distancing they can’t deal with the same number of customers.

Rishi Sunak reported that £4.6 billion of consumer debt has been paid off and households have increased their bank deposits by £25.6 billion. This means there is the potential for more than £30 billion (about 1.5% of last year’s GDP) to be spent into the economy when households have confidence restored.

With an economy valued at £2000 billion I believe the maximum economic growth per year with which the UK can normally cope is about £60 billion. Therefore an economic stimulus of £30 billion at this stage is about right.

Instead of allocating up to £9.4 billion for his Job Retention Bonus scheme, I think Rishi Sunak should have used the amount to increase all working-age benefits such as Universal Credit, Family Tax Credit, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance by £20 a week, the same value as his temporary increase of Universal Credit and Family Tax Credit in March. This would have targeted the money to the poorest in society who are most likely to spend it and to the areas where more of these people live. Giving employers £1000 per worker retained is not going to do much to encourage them to retain the most marginal workers, and will do very little if anything to increase demand in the economy.

A lot of the £5.6 billion for infrastructure projects is not new money and includes maintenance projects. £900 million is for shovel-ready projects in England in 2020-21 and 2021-22. But some of this, maybe the majority, will not be spent until the next financial year. We must hope that most of the £5.6 billion will go into the areas worst affected by job losses.

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6 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • The PM blaming care homes for his failure is shameful
  • Landmark domestic abuse legislation passes House of Commons

The PM blaming care homes for his failure is shameful

Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments today saying that “we discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have,” Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

For weeks Boris Johnson told us he and his ministers had put a protective ring round our care homes. That was a lie and the public knew it. Today he is trying to shift the blame to those who risked

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The Independent View: Overcrowded housing, BAME groups and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 era has progressed, more and more data has pointed towards a deeply harrowing truth – the virus is having a disproportionate impact on BAME groups. According to research from ICNARC, approximately one-third of the COVID-19 patients admitted to Intensive Care Units (ICUs) have been from BAME groups, despite the fact that just 14% of the UK population is BAME.

Added to this, black ethnic groups have experienced the highest diagnosis rates, and both black and Asian groups have experienced higher death rates than the white British majority. In order to understand this disparity, it is important to take a close look at one of the factors thought to play a part: overcrowded housing.

All minority ethnic groups are statistically more likely to live in overcrowded housing than the white British group. Taking the Bangladeshi ethnic group as an example, just short of 30% of households have more residents than rooms. For white British households, this figure stands at just 2%.

Overcrowded housing is of huge significance for two main reasons. Firstly, it dramatically increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as the virus can spread easily among those who live in close proximity to each other and share facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. Secondly, it makes adhering to self-isolation guidelines essentially impossible, as a person cannot minimise their contact with others if their circumstances are such that they did not have enough personal space to begin with.

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Looking back: How investing in our communities laid the foundations for tackling Covid-19 in York

Embed from Getty Images

Just over a year ago I was appointed to the role of Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities in the new Lib Dem/Green partnership running City of York Council following the May elections of 2019.

I’m hugely proud of the way our team in York rose to the challenge presented by Covid-19. Lib Dems in local government (particularly those fortunate to be leading Councils), love nothing more than tweaking policy, putting values into practice, and pouring through budget papers with highlighters. We are no different in York. Little did we know 12 months ago that this effort was to be critical in stopping residents reach poverty and keeping them safe, with food in the cupboards and prescriptions delivered.

Our priorities for my corner of the Council centred on devolving budgets down to neighbourhoods and investing in community support. As we entered the Covid-19 crisis, these priorities came to be the bedrock of our community response.

In 2019, we announced a £4.5 million ward funding programme, to be spent by local councillors in ways that support their respective communities. Getting cash from the decision makers in the Council’s offices, to residents sat around the community centre table, was a point of principle we fought hard on in the local elections. For a community like mine, this meant our local area would benefit from £251k over the life of the administration. That’s already being spent on funding activities for young people, tackling adult isolation and improving infrastructure; new benches, bus shelters and road resurfacing.

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29 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must make mental health support available to health and care workers
  • New Trade and Agriculture Commission must be a “watchdog with teeth” – Farron
  • Govt must stop spending money on measures that don’t prevent crime
  • Govt must make more help available for people and businesses in Leicester

Govt must make mental health support available to health and care workers

Responding to reports that Labour have announced a “Care for Carers” plan, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Over the past months the Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to ramp up mental health support for health and care staff. It is

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26 June 2020 – today’s press release

Lib Dems: Govt failing to stop spread of coronavirus in prisons

Responding to the latest Government statistics on COVID-19 in Prison and Probation Service in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

With more than 500 prisoners testing positive for coronavirus, but only 175 being released early, it is clear the Government aren’t taking seriously the spread of the virus in our prisons. They have completely failed to end overcrowding in prisons, allowing them to become a crucible for the disease.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Liberal Democrats have been clear it is impossible to practice safe

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23 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table amendments to stop MPs debating complaints in the chamber
  • Govt must be transparent on guidance behind decision to relax lockdown
  • Govt must guarantee scrutiny in Parliament as daily COVID updates cease

Lib Dems table amendments to stop MPs debating complaints in the chamber

The Liberal Democrats have tabled amendments to the Independent Complaints Scheme which will prevent Members of Parliament from debating and voting on motions concerning complaints made in Parliament.

The amendments tabled to a motion set to be debated later today are crucial for protecting anyone who makes a complaint. It would give the independent panel the power to …

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16 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt spending £120m on Festival for Brexit instead of free school meals over the summer
  • PM’s decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need
  • Govt must act to address disproportionate impact of pandemic on BAME communities
  • Govt must go beyond u-turn on free school meals to give every child best start
  • PM must think again on DFID in face of COVID-19 global health emergency

Govt spending £120m on Festival for Brexit instead of free school meals over the summer

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of being “callous and heartless” for spending £120m on a Festival For Brexit, when the same amount of money could be spent on extending free school meals over the summer.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, Layla Moran, made the intervention ahead of an opposition debate today on calls to extend free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Government recently confirmed that the Festival for Brexit will be going ahead in 2022, with £120 million of taxpayers’ money earmarked for the event. This is the exact same amount it would cost to extend free school meals to all eligible pupils over the six-week summer holiday.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Leaving children hungry while ploughing millions into Brexit propaganda is callous and heartless. This appalling waste of money shows where the government’s priorities lie.

It’s not rocket science. If the government can spend £120 million on a Brexit ‘festival’, they could easily spend the same on ensuring the most disadvantaged children have enough to eat over the summer holidays.

It is about time that the Education Secretary went to the training ground with Marcus Rashford to take some lessons on how best to support the most vulnerable pupils.

PM’s decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need

Responding to reports that the Prime Minister will announce later today that the Foreign Office and Department for International Development are set to be merged, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for International Development Wendy Chamberlain said:

Not content with depriving disadvantaged kids of their free school meals, the Prime Minister is now choosing to abolish the department whose job is to support the most vulnerable people around the world.

UK aid prevents suffering. The Liberal Democrats have always made absolutely clear our unequivocal support for Britain’s role as a world leader in providing aid to those most in need. By working internationally we can achieve so much more than we can alone.

This decision shows the extent of the Prime Minister’s determination to see the UK turn its back on the world.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey added:

Boris Johnson has wanted to use the 0.7% for international aid for his own political projects ever since entering government. This news comes as the most vulnerable brace themselves for the Coronavirus, which has already torn through many countries.

In the last 24 hours this Government has refused to offer the poorest children in the UK free school meals. They have now turned to cutting funding away from some of the worlds poorest. Boris Johnson is playing culture war games and some of the most vulnerable people here at home and abroad are paying the price.

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15 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Conservatives are gambling with our future
  • Davey: Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy
  • Wrongheaded to reject spare spaces for schools, Lib Dems warn
  • Lib Dems call on PM “not to turn your back” on child refugees
  • Govt deliberately moving away from expert advice
  • Lib Dems celebrate victory in the Lords

Conservatives are gambling with our future

Responding to the new Boris Johnson has set a deadline of July to secure a deal with the European Union, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said:

The PM is trying posture his way out of the corner that he’s backed himself into. He wants to stage manage the situation so that he can blame the EU if talks fail.

A negotiation is a two way process. We cannot expect to lay down all our red lines and never budge, as Theresa May learnt the hard way. By refusing to genuinely negotiate the Conservatives are gambling with our future.

The PM needs to ditch this reckless deadline and commit to trying to secure a deal that enables Welsh farmers and businesses to continue to have tariff-free access to our vital European markets.

Davey: Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy

Responding to reports that the PM has said there needs to be a deal done with the EU by the end of July, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Boris Johnson’s arrogant assertion that he wants a Brexit deal rushed through in a few weeks shows he still doesn’t care about the impact a bad deal could have on people’s lives.

At a time when the UK is facing the deepest recession for 300 years, it is unthinkable that the government would rush through a half-heated deal, or worse get no deal at all.

A rushed, bad Brexit deal would hit our NHS, jobs, and the economy. It would impact the most vulnerable the hardest, making life more difficult for those already struggling to make ends meet.

Johnson should stop with the bravado. Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the government to extend the transition period and commit to ensuring we agree a Brexit deal that leaves no one behind.

Wrongheaded to reject spare spaces for schools, Lib Dems warn

Responding to the Government’s new guidance for schools, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The real test of this guidance is whether it will build the confidence needed for parents, teachers and pupils to go back to school without fear of putting their health at risk.

For schools that don’t have the capacity to have more pupils return within existing guidelines, the Government must do more. That includes providing laptops and internet access to all disadvantaged children in need.

It is also wrongheaded to reject Liberal Democrat proposals to use suitable empty buildings in the community as learning spaces. Ministers should think again.

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Covid-19 and Brexit: a lethal combination

Deaths from coronavirus dominate the news, but behind the headlines other sources of mortality are taking their toll.

This has been the case from shortly after the start of the lockdown, but is becoming more evident. If we look for instance at the figures for week ending 3rd April, there were 3475 deaths from covid-19 in England and Wales, but a total of 6082 excess deaths from all causes, compared to the five year average for that week. Contributory causes to these excess deaths probably include delayed cancer and stroke treatments, failure to seek necessary treatment for fear of attending hospital, …

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15 June 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Govt must not use new commission to avoid tackling racism straight away
  • Govt must support struggling families

Govt must not use new commission to avoid tackling racism straight away

Responding to the Government’s announcement of a cross-governmental commission to address the inequalities that BAME communities face, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Too many people’s lives are blighted by discrimination, inequality and injustice. The Government must move further and faster to redress institutional racism in the criminal justice system and many other parts of our society.

The Liberal Democrats have joined with BAME communities in calling for a government-wide race equality strategy, so this

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Daily View 2×2: 15 June 2020

2 big stories

The relaxation of the UK’s lockdown continues, albeit somewhat falteringly. Yes, you’ll probably be able to go into a pub soon, but your kids may not be back at school until September. And that’s partly because politicians are increasingly ignoring scientists, as Rishi Sunak quite openly acknowledged. He is, I think, right to do so – advisors advise, politicians decide. If only many of us had more faith in the quality of those politicians who form our current government…

Caution is probably the watchword though, as many, if not most, people are still uncomfortable with crowded places, and are …

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10 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems propose support package for employers to keep workers safe as lockdown eases (to be published here tomorrow)
  • Davey: UK needs Green Recovery Plan to counter COVID-19 economic damage
  • PM must take charge and ensure deprived children aren’t left behind
  • Davey: PM must abolish suspicion-less stop and search
  • Davey statement after call with the PM
  • Govt must commit to inquiry into handling of COVID-19

Davey: UK needs Green Recovery Plan to counter COVID-19 economic damage

Responding to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report that predicts the UK economy will shrink by 11.5% and experience the worst economic contraction among developed countries due to the coronavirus, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Coronavirus has proven to be a bigger threat to people’s jobs and livelihoods than even the financial crash. People are rightly worried about their jobs, their families and their communities. We must ensure no one is left behind.

The UK desperately needs a Green Recovery Plan. We can rebuild the economy and protect the environment by creating jobs through embracing new, green technologies.

The Prime Minister must also stop the double-whammy of a no-deal by ending the uncertainly and extend the Brexit transition period, protecting access to markets across Europe.

We can also now see, by international standards, the Government failed to prepare properly for a pandemic and has been slow to act. There must be an independent inquiry to review the Government’s actions.

PM must take charge and ensure deprived children aren’t left behind

The Liberal Democrats have called on Boris Johnson to take charge of the crisis facing schools and ensure disadvantaged children are not left behind, accusing Gavin Williamson of having “dropped the ball.”

It comes after the former Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, this morning said the Government’s failure to consult with teachers over its plans was “absolutely astonishing.”

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said

Parents and teachers have raised concerns from the outset about how to get pupils safely back into school, but Gavin Williamson has refused to listen. It’s no surprise this whole process has descended into a complete shambles.

Time and again the Education Secretary has dropped the ball, from refusing to extend free school meals over the summer to leaving thousands of disadvantaged children without laptops.

Boris Johnson must take charge and end the stubborn refusal to extend free school meals over the summer and provide laptops to all disadvantaged children who need them.

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8 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Empty pharma stockpiles show govt must rethink transition extension
  • Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%
  • Derisory increase in asylum support is appalling
  • Testing announcement shows protective ring around care homes claim untrue
  • Rees-Mogg must follow through on promises to look at voting rights for carers

Empty pharma stockpiles show govt must rethink transition extension

Responding to reports that No Deal Brexit stockpiles “significantly reduced and/or used up entirely” by Covid pandemic, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

These reports show the recklessness of the government’s approach to Brexit negotiations and protecting our economy and NHS.

The stockpiles created to protect against the risk of a no deal Brexit have now been used up, and building them back up to safe levels by the end of the year is going to be very difficult.

So by pushing the UK into a no deal Brexit the Conservatives could be putting more lives and more jobs at risk.

The calls to extend the transition period have come from people who voted leave and remain a like. The government must put national interest ahead of Brexit ideology and extend the transition period.

Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reacted with shock at the situation of Covid-19 in Welsh Prisons, after new figures reveal an infection rate of more than 20% for inmates.

Figures published by the UK Department for Justice have shown that Wales has 165 recorded cases of Covid-19 within prisons. This represents 12.4% of cases across England & Wales, with 1,329 total cases being logged – 882 Staff, 447 Prisoners.

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6-7 June 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt failing NHS staff and care workers
  • Govt must not sleep walk into a second peak

Govt failing NHS staff and care workers

Responding to reports that NHS trusts were not consulted over new face coverings rule, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

This is yet another betrayal by the Government of the NHS and care staff who are putting their lives on the line every single day.

Why is the Secretary of State prioritising press conference announcements over consultation with NHS staff? Now we face a situation where our stretched and under-resourced NHS is having to adapt to these new

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5 June 2020 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Tariff proposals show Johnson’s willing to break his word on Brexit yet again
  • Govt must be clear on process for regional COVID-19 lockdowns
  • Lib Dems push to strengthen support for survivors in Domestic Abuse Bill
  • Davey: Coronavirus death toll a national tragedy

Tariff proposals show Johnson’s willing to break his word on Brexit yet again

Responding to reports that the UK Government is considering accepting tariffs as part of any UK-EU transition deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

This proposal is the latest chapter in a long story of the Brexit reality failing to meet Boris Johnson’s rhetoric.

Johnson told British businesses, including farmers, they’d have tariff free access to the EU market.

But just as he promised Northern Irish businesses that there would be no checks in the Irish Sea, and consumers that we wouldn’t have chlorinated chickens on our shelves, it seems that this too is an issue he is willing to break his word on.

The Government risks selling out UK farmers and industry all for their ideological Brexit.

Govt must be clear on process for regional COVID-19 lockdowns

A Cambridge University and PHE England study has suggested the decline in the COVID-19 death rate in England may arrest by mid-June. Responding to this, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Munira Wilson said:

Scientists and public health officials sounded the alarm when the Government eased lockdown this week, given the COVID-19 risk level is still “high”. These findings show that they were right to advise caution.

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Daily View 2×2: 5 June 2020

2 big stories

Yesterday, the New York Times published an opinion piece by the junior US Senator for Arkansas, Tom Cotton, which called upon President Trump to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to

employ the military “or any other means” in “cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws”

by way of an overwhelming show of force against protestors. Why is this important? Because Tom Cotton is a potential Republican nominee for the Presidency in the not that distant future.

It would be fair to say that there was a backlash, as the editorial page editor himself admitted.

There is a valid question to …

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4 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • PM must ensure COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to all
  • Lib Dems: Govt must do more to protect the vulnerable from modern slavery
  • Lib Dems: Face mask announcement yet another example of Govt’s slow response

PM must ensure COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to all

The Liberal Democrats have urged the Prime Minister to ensure a coronavirus vaccine is patent free, affordable for all governments and free of charge to all.

The call comes as the Prime Minister today hosts a Global Vaccine Summit in London.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Prime Minister to endorse the WHO COVID Technology Access Pool …

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