Tag Archives: peoples vote

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.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 66 Comments

29 June – 1 July 2019 – the weekend and overnight press releases

Labour leadership tone deaf to a People’s Vote

Responding to Len McCluskey’s comments on the Andrew Marr show this morning, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokespeson Tom Brake said:

No matter how loudly some in the Labour party demand that the leadership change its position on Brexit, it is clear it is still falling on deaf ears.

It is insincere to only offer a People’s Vote if it’s a Labour deal on the table. Any Brexit plan must go back to the British public.

Any Brexit deal, whether negotiated by Theresa May, Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn will be bad for our country. It will damage

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | Leave a comment

Save the date – October 19th for a massive People’s Vote march in London

The People’s Vote campaign have announced a Summer of campaigning which will take in many towns around the country, Labour and Conservative conferences and another big march in London on October 12th. Update: This has now been changed to October 19th to avoid clashing with Great Ormond Street’s annual fundraiser.

I travelled down from Scotland for the march last October. I was gutted that I couldn’t go when a million took to the streets in March.

The campaign set out their plans:

These protests will mobilise all those who feel their voice is being ignored by politicians hell-bent on imposing the hardest possible form of Brexit on the country without the public being given final say.

This will be the most intense and sustained programme of campaigning activity undertaken yet by a campaign that earlier this year organised a march that brought 1 million people on to the streets of London. Now a series of rallies and actions, including at the party conferences, will reach every corner of the country before a vast march and rally in London on October 12.

The “Let Us Be Heard” campaign is designed to generate relentless popular political pressure ahead of the crunch decision on Brexit that will decide our country’s future. At its heart is the recognition it is vital our voice is heard first in the towns and cities of Britain, including areas that voted Leave in 2016, before being taken back to Westminster in the autumn.

The protests will begin with a huge rally in Leeds on June 22 – three years almost to the day since the last referendum – before moving to 15 towns and cities including Sunderland, Luton, Newport and Glasgow. The campaign will then head to the Labour and Conservative Party conferences in Manchester and Brighton, before reaching a climax with our fourth People’s Vote march in London on October 12.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

From Catherine Bearder MEP, Leader of the Lib Dem Group at the European Parliament

Wow! What a few days it has been. I wanted to write you a little message from Brussels about the incredible European election last Thursday and how we can build on from our stellar result.

First of all can I just say a huge, huge thank you to all of you. In just three weeks, our activists put in a marathon effort to deliver millions of leaflets, bang in ‘Stop Brexit’ and ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ stakeboards and knock on thousands of doors (and this was on the back of an enormous effort to get all those wonderful councillors elected!).

Now we are sixteen MEPs and I finally have some colleagues with me to fly the Lib Dem flag in Brussels and Strasbourg! There are some past MEPs coming back into our midst like Chris Davies, Phil Bennion and Bill Newton-Dunn, but there also some rising stars in the party like Irina Von Wiese, Antony Hook and Caroline Voaden and so many others who come with a whole range of skills and life experiences. It is truly a great and diverse team – over 50% are women and two MEPs are BAME.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Why the Lib Dems should extend an olive branch to Change UK

One of the next big questions the Lib Dems need to answer is what to do about Change UK. After a disastrous result in the European elections, the fledging group are facing an existential crisis. A new party needs early success to fuel its momentum. They got the opposite – 3% of the vote.

Given this, it should come as no surprise that Change want to be friends again, with the interim leader Heidi Allen openly stating that she’d like to see Change and the Lib Dems run as one entity from now on. I understand that for some, the natural impulse might be to tell them to F – off. They wanted to be separate, they tried their best to win votes directly from the Lib Dems. Now they come crawling back to us? No sir. Enjoy electoral oblivion.

It’s a tempting way to think, but it’s an urge we all need to fight. A centre-left Remain alliance would be a good thing for our cause, and a good thing for our country. If MPs want to join the Lib Dems let’s bring them into the fold. And I don’t just mean grudgingly accepting them but viewing them with scorn, I mean knocking on doors in the rain for Gavin Shuker, giving a Cabinet position to Heidi Allen, and getting Chuka in to speak to enthusiastic supporters at the next ‘Lib Dem Pint’.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 60 Comments

LibLink: Jo Swinson Lib Dems reaped the rewards of unapologetically supporting a People’s Vote

Somewhere in the long night on Sunday, when she was dotting about between various media outlets, Jo Swinson found the time to write an article for the Times Red Box looking at the reasons for the spectacular Lib Dem success. Being clear about what we were about paid dividends.

Our message at the elections was crystal clear and it worked. Voters recognised the Liberal Democrats are the largest and strongest Remain party. For the past two and a half years we have been unapologetically making the case for a People’s Vote and we have successfully built a cross-party, cross-country movement in support of it.

But while Labour and the Tories lead the country to a disastrous Brexit, we have more to do:

Even as we celebrate these excellent results, we can’t ignore that the Brexit Party made significant gains, that the favourite in the Conservative leadership contest panders to the far right to advance his career (and is certainly not fit for public office), and that the leader of the opposition is yet to take a stance on the biggest issue of the day.

Brexit has turned us into a laughing stock internationally. It’s detracted attention for the real challenges we face, such as the climate emergency, widening inequality and struggling public services. And it’s preventing us from making the most of the technological revolution right ahead of us.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

20 May 2019 – today’s press release

  • Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake
  • Further Gender Identity Clinic delays unacceptable
  • Davey: Govt is failing in its duty to protect the public
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats only chance for 2nd remain seat

Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake

Responding to comments made by Matthew Hancock, the Health Secretary, on the Today Programme, that the Government will bring forward its bill on exiting the EU, Tom Brake, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister’s deal is dead. They can bring forward votes on that deal and a speculative bill every week, for the rest of the year – it will still fail

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | Leave a comment

In full: Cable and Brake’s letter to Corbyn calling for Labour to back a People’s Vote

Vince Cable and Tom Brake have written to Jeremy Corbyn ahead of today’s NEC meeting urging Labour to back a People’s Vote in their European Elections manifesto.

There has so far been little enthusiasm for a confirmatory ballot from Labour’s leadership, although the vas majority of their members and many of their MPs back it.

One thing worth mentioning, though – even if Labour grudgingly agrees to some sort of confirmatory referendum, they are unlikely under Corbyn’s leadership to back Remain. In contrast, the Liberal Democrats will enthusiastically and unequivocally campaign to stay in the EU. So, if that is what you want, Labour Remainers, you need to vote for us both in the locals and especially in the European elections.

Here is Vince and Tom’s letter.

 

29/4/2019

Dear Jeremy,

Tomorrow the NEC will be debating Labour’s European election manifesto.

We are sure that you would acknowledge that Brexit has been the single most divisive issue the country has faced since the Iraq War, if not before. Brexit continues to split the country North and South and young and old.

The Liberal Democrats believe that a confirmatory referendum is our only hope of getting closure on this issue and starting to heal this rift. The result would establish once and for all whether the ‘will of the people’ is really to leave the EU with the PM’s deal (which one poll suggested only 1 person in 7 supports) or any other deal agreed with the EU or instead to remain in the EU.

For this reason, we urge you to push for the inclusion a confirmatory public referendum in your European manifesto. We believe this would also be supported by a majority of Labour MPs, trade unions and Labour members.

We would of course work with the Labour party, other parties and individual MPs to facilitate the passage of the relevant legislation.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 38 Comments

Who Needs a Referendum Most?

Embed from Getty Images

Sometimes it’s difficult to detect when the wind has changed. Now may be one of those times.

For nearly three years we’ve been pushing for a referendum. We all know why. It was our only chance to get what we really want, remaining a full member of the EU.

Consider, though, where we are now. The Tory/Labour talks are going nowhere. Theresa May keeps threatening to put binding options before the House of Commons and accept the result, but her party probably won’t let her do that, and the House is unlikely to pass the procedural motion to allow those votes to happen.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 29 Comments

The democratic case for resolving Brexit

Since  the 2016 referendum, we Lib Dems have been slightly on the back foot about the democratic implication of having a new people’s vote. I firmly believe that, had the matter not been put to the public in 2016, the government would have said some time in 2017 or 2018, ‘OK folks, Brexit was an interesting idea, but it’s clearly not going to work so let’s abandon it and stay in the EU.’ But because the people did vote, and they chose by a small but clear margin to leave, the whole principle of democracy appears to be undermined if we ask the people a second time.

Actually the opposite is the case – the case against having a confirmatory people’s vote is the undemocratic one. This conclusion is based around three core arguments:

1. The vote in June 2016 was based on a Leave campaign that was a blank canvas. There was no vision for how we would leave or for which variation of leaving. If you go back to the referendum debate, you’ll find advocates of Leave ranged from the anti-everything-that-begins-with-‘Euro’ brigade to very mild Leavers who wanted the UK to stay in the internal market and the customs union but not to be members of the club. That’s why when a Leaver screams ‘This isn’t what we voted for in 2016,’ it’s founded on nothing but their own perception of what they were voting for. Given that the margin of victory was less than 52-48, the only plausible mandate from the 2016 referendum is for a Brexit that involves staying in the internal market and customs union.

2. The Leave campaign cheated. This has been proven, the campaign has been fined £70,000 (and Arron Banks’ company has been fined more than that for data abuses related to the Leave campaign), and it is not appealing. Moreover, a professor of psephology told the High Court that the extent of the advantage Leave gained by cheating could have affected the overall result. If you have a public vote and one side cheats significantly, the result cannot be considered reliable, certainly not reliable enough to provide a mandate for the UK to leave the economic and legal bloc it has been a member of for 44 years.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 49 Comments

From All Fools’ Day to All Ghouls’ Day – what next to stop Brexit?

The commentary on last night’s EU summit was presented as Theresa May going to beg for favours from foreigners. I saw it a bit differently. You see, I see the EU 27 as my leaders. I’m a European. I’m a citizen of the European Union. These people, down a long and convoluted democratic chain certainly, are accountable to me. They are my leaders in the same way as the UK Government  – although the latter infuriates me a lot more and pleases me a lot less – and the Scottish Government  and my Council are. And, frankly, out of that lot, the EU 27 are the pick of the bunch.

In the context of Brexit, the EU have, to be honest, been fair, firm, adult and where they have leaked stuff to the press, have been more authentic and less inflammatory than the Members of Parliament in her own party. I can’t believe that I actually live in a universe where Mark Francois isn’t a Harry Enfield character but actually has a vote in the mother of Parliaments. Perfidious Albion on speed? Really? He actually wants our international reputation to be mud?

I have a lot more confidence in the EU27 to acquit themselves with honour than the UK Government. And they were nothing but reasonable in their deliberations. They want a sensible solution to all of this. What they are getting in return is incoherence and the strategic ability of a two year old who wants that sweetie at the checkout and thinks that throwing a tantrum is going to get it for them.

You have to credit them with some sense of humour. The first Brexit cliff edge was chosen by us – near April Fool’s Day. This one has been chosen by the EU – Hallowe’en. The jokes will be writing themselves for the next six months.

It would be wrong to think that we have six months, though. May will have a go at persuading her recalcitrants to pass her terrible deal in the next few weeks and she might succeed. It might pass by a vote or two. And we’d be headed into a poorer, more isolated future on the basis of a handful of ERG types and Brexiteer Labour MPs. That is so not how it should be, but the danger has not passed.

The last thing the Tories want to do is fight the European elections. What on earth would be the point in voting for them? How do they write a manifesto that the Dominic Grieve and Mark Francois wings of the party can support? They will try not to have to and we have to make sure that they don’t succeed in their aim.

The Euros, if they happen, offer a huge opportunity for Liberal Democrats, especially as EU citizens have the chance to vote for the Party that’s been doggedly trying to stop Brexit from the start. We stand to gain several seats. Sure, Farage’s mob will win some, too, but the opportunities for the highly motivated Remain campaign to gather behind Remain candidates will make us win too. In Scotland not far off half a million people signed the Revoke petition. In 2009, 174000 people elected George Lyon as MEP. This is doable, people.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 31 Comments

9 April 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Cable: Brexiters losing argument and votes
  • Schools resorting to desperate tactics to tackle funding emergency
  • Cable: IMF report should put to bed Brexit fantasies
  • Govt must bring together all MPs to agree to a People’s Vote

Cable: Brexiters losing argument and votes

Following the votes in the House of Commons tonight, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Parliament has now taken back control and the UK is on course for an extension to Article 50 and European Parliament elections.

Brexiters are losing the argument and losing votes in the Commons by healthy margins.

The Prime Minister must now show leadership by offering a People’s

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | Leave a comment

Our fellow citizens can help us out with their vote

The argument for a referendum is well rehearsed. A narrow majority secured by deceit and illegality for a range of proposals is no mandate for any one specific proposal. With a million marching, over six million signing a petition to call for revocation of notice given under Article 50, and polls consistently showing a majority who wish to remain in the European Union; any mandate, even for a vague set of proposals, is doubtful.

Without a referendum on future arrangements the people of the UK will be in the position where their government, elected by an archaic and dysfunctional electoral system, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Would a second referendum be undemocratic?

A common jibe of leavers used to be “So Remainers just want to re-run the referendum until they get the result that suits them? How many referendums do you want? The best of 3, the best of 5?”

Now they have gone a bit quiet on that one, since Theresa May has used exactly that tactic in a vain attempt to force Parliament to swallow her deal. Bringing it back again and again until, in a vivid metaphor from The Independent, “it began to resemble the indestructible cyborg from the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 62 Comments

4 April 2019 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Whilst the drama was, unusually, at the Lords end of the Palace of Westminster today, there was plenty else going on. So much so, that we’re breaking this piece in two today. The second half will be along shortly…

  • Swinson: Shared Parental Leave must be a right from day one
  • Vince Cable visits Yeovil to launch final push of Lib Dem local election campaign
  • Cable: Corbyn must put any deal he agrees with PM back to the people

Swinson: Shared Parental Leave must be a right from day one

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, has today launched a bid to reform …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | Leave a comment

2 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Today’s press releases are brought to you from Antwerp, as your columnist enjoys possibly one last trip as an EU citizen…

  • Lib Dems table composite amendments to end Brexit impasse
  • Lib Dems: We must ensure all children receive an education that meets their needs
  • Lib Dems: Gisela Stuart Not Fit for FCO Wilton Park
  • Lib Dem victory on Mental Capacity Bill
  • Callous Tories could strip people of voting rights
  • Cable: PM piles more logs on the Brexit log jam

Lib Dems table composite amendments to end Brexit impasse

Today (2nd April) the Liberal Democrats are tabling amendments, working cross-party, to break the deadlock in Parliament by ensuring any Brexit voted through Parliament goes back to the people, with a People’s Vote.

The Liberal Democrats will table composite amendments to reflect Brexit motions voted on last night and the Prime Minister’s deal.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is time for MPs to come together and build a majority to end the impasse. That is why Liberal Democrats are seeking to add a People’s Vote to any Brexit motions so that the deadlock in Parliament is broken and the people can decide on the path the country takes.

Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a People’s Vote for nearly three years, always believing that the people, not politicians, must have the final say.

Adding a People’s Vote to any of the motions voted for last night or the PM’s deal provides the quickest and safest way out of this unholy mess.

Lib Dems: We must ensure all children receive an education that meets their needs

Following the announcement of Government proposals that will see a requirement for home-educated children to be registered with their local authority, affecting almost 60,000, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Parents can decide to home school children for any number of reasons and most do a brilliant job. But undeniably, they need more support.

Yet councils cannot offer this support if they don’t know where children are. A child who has never been on the school roll may simply be unknown to the local authority.

If we want to ensure all families provide their children with an education that meets their needs, then these proposals are a welcome first step.

Lib Dems: Gisela Stuart Not Fit for FCO Wilton Park

Today Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson, has written to the Prime Minister to ask her to reconsider the suitability of Ms Stuart as Chair of Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

This comes following Vote Leave’s decision to drop their challenge against the fine of £61,000 imposed on them by the Electoral Commission for spending offences during the 2016 EU referendum.

Commenting on his decision to write to May on the matter, Mr Brake said:

Ms Stuart was the Chair of a campaign that broke the law. She cannot now continue as head of Wilton Park: a body which promotes good governance across the world on behalf of the UK.

In any other job you would not stay in post if you risked bringing the organisation into disrepute, so why is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office any different? The Prime Minister must act.

Ms Stuart’s role as Chair of Vote Leave and her refusal to apologise for the campaign’s illegal activities make her position at Wilton Park completely untenable.

Liberal Democrats demand better. I have urged the Prime Minister to review Ms Stuart’s appointment in light of the revelations about Vote Leave. British Government appointments must always be spotless. It is not clear this appointment passes that test.

Lib Dem victory on Mental Capacity Bill

Today the House of Commons is debating the Mental Capacity Bill which now includes huge concessions the Liberal Democrats secured from the Government.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

How that conversation between May and Corbyn should go

Tonight, Theresa May said she wanted to unite the country behind the deal which everybody hates. She was going to talk to Jeremy Corbyn so he could share the blame when it all goes wrong.

So Jeremy should walk into Number 10, give up his phone like we all have to, hand over a pot of home made jam to Theresa May and say:

“Ok, here’s how it is. Take your deal, put it back to the Commons and accept the Kyle Wilson amendment to give us a confirmatory referendum. It’ll pass tomorrow. I’ll whip for it. The Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid, Green and They Who Must Not be Named Because I Don’t Like Them will support it. You are free of the DUP and ERG. Enjoy your jam. Bye.

And then he should walk away in a more dignified fashion than when he legged it the other week because Chuka Umunna was there.

But I’m not going to be holding my breath for that scenario to unfold. In a reasonably lengthy interview with Sky News tonight he didn’t mention, nor was he asked, about a People’s Vote one single time.

So what’s this all about? Is May snuggling up to Corbyn in a desperate bid to make the ERG cave and back her deal this week?

It is, as Politics.co.uk’s Ian Dunt said on Twitter tonight, a very dangerous moment. The latest abyss on the road to the cliff edge. And it’s as much because of the (lack of) calibre of the Leader of the Opposition as it is the inadequacy of the Prime Minister.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

There is a staggeringly simple solution to the Brexit impasse

Think about it.

Ken Clarke’s customs union backed by 273 MPs

People’s Vote backed by 280 MPs

May’s deal backed by 286 MPs and falling

All you need to get a majority in the House of Commons is 326.

So at most another 49 votes.

So it is clear that something would pass if it had a People’s Vote attached to it.

I am glad that most of our MPs either voted against or abstained from options that would have had us leave on 22nd May without a People’s Vote.

Ken Clarke’s for example with another 9 Lib Dems and 35 SNP and 4 PC is almost  there if it has a PV attached.

May’s deal with all of the above is there even with some Labour not voting for it and the DUP and ERG is irrelevant.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 61 Comments

1 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Davey: Knife crime epidemic demands a properly funded public health approach

The Liberal Democrats have today warned that the knife crime epidemic won’t be resolved by “imposing legal duties without providing additional resources” and have called for the Government to properly fund a public health approach.

The call comes as the Prime Minister hosts a youth violence summit in Downing Street today.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Knife crime is an epidemic, and like any epidemic tackling it requires a public health approach.

Police, teachers, health professionals, youth workers and social services all have an important

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment

30-31 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

Lib Dems: Stop and search is not the answer

Responding to the announcement that Police in England and Wales will be given greater stop and search powers to tackle rising knife crime, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Yet again, the Tories are trying to tackle knife crime on the cheap. It won’t work.

More random, suspicion-less Stop and Searches, carried out disproportionately on people from BAME communities, are not the answer. They will not only consume police time and erode trust in the police, but have little impact in actually preventing people carrying knives.

What we really need is

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

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

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

The text follows:

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

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

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

A momentary lapse

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

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

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

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

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

14 March 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

It’s another trying day, with the ghastly news from New Zealand overnight, and one does despair at the ability of human beings to do inhuman things, but politics rolls inevitably onwards. So, here are yesterday’s releases…

Lib Dems: Short prison sentences for knives don’t work

Responding to the figures showing the number of crimes related to knives and other offensive weapons dealt with by the courts has reached a nine year high, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse:

Both the Justice Secretary and the Prisons Minister have admitted that short prison sentences don’t work and actually increase the risk of re-offending. So why

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | Leave a comment

Let us Celebrate European Democracy!

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t get too excited about tonight’s votes…

So, it was quite surprising that MPs backed the stronger No Deal amendment, especially after one of its Tory proposers bowed to the pressure of the whips and tried to pull it.

But John Bercow, who gives zero hoots when it comes to preserving the rights of the House against the Executive, refused to allow her to withdraw it.

The rebel majority was just 4.

It was certainly a dramatic moment and yet another key defeat for Theresa May.

But I wouldn’t get too excited about it.

In fact, while we may be closer than ever to a People’s Vote, the balance might tip in …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 42 Comments

Our future should be in the hands of the people, not right wing Tories and the DUP

Our country’s fate will tonight be decided by the right wing of the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party. That, really, is not a good place for us to be in. And let’s not forget those Labour MPs who will choose to back the deal to get us out of the EU. They are unlikely to face any consequences from their leadership for doing so.

They may take whatever fig leaf Theresa May has begged from EU leaders as the only way to keep Brexit alive. If the deal goes down tonight, the momentum is with those of us calling from a People’s Vote.

Let’s not forget that the deal itself is terrible. So much that has been kicked down the road. We have no idea what our future trading relationship would be like. It’s likely that that will be decided not by Theresa May, but by a future ERG backed Tory leader who wants to turn us into a regulation-light Singapore.

As I wrote in January:

For me, the worst thing is that it kicks so much down the road. We haven’t got a clue about what our future trading relationships with the EU and everyone else would look like.

Failure to reach a trade agreement before the end of the transition period could put us on a dash off the cliff edge at the end of next year. Except at that point we would be out of the EU with nothing we can do about it.

Don’t think the extreme No Dealers in the Conservative Party are going to give up fighting for that calamitous option if May manages to get her deal through. The moment of danger will not pass if we get a deal. That’s one of the many reasons why we need a People’s Vote.

Tom Brake said similar on Twitter

MPs will be expected to vote with just a few hours’ debate on an agreement that was reached late last night. That’s not what you could call acceptable democratic scrutiny. The only fair way is to put it to the people.

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

9-10 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

And, as promised…

  • Lib Dems: Labour must stop making excuses on a People’s Vote
  • PM must back independent investigation into Qatar World Cup bid
  • Home Counties knife crime rise shows crime epidemic is sweeping the UK

Lib Dems: Labour must stop making excuses on a People’s Vote

Responding to Keir Starmer’s announcement that Labour will not force a vote in favour of a People’s Vote on Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Labour’s apparent belated support for a People’s Vote needs to be put to the test very soon. If not Tuesday, when? And their commitment must go hand in hand with a three

Posted in Best of the blogs and News | Also tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

Labour back a People’s Vote – but do they mean it?

Forgive me for not getting over-excited about Labour backing a People’s Vote.

Obviously, it is good that they are going to – but this doesn’t mean that all of their MPs will vote for it.

From the BBC

The BBC’s Vicky Young said it was a highly “significant” development as Mr Corbyn had previously been “lukewarm” about the idea of another vote.

Theresa May is under growing pressure to delay the 29 March Brexit date.

Labour are not yet making clear what their proposed referendum would be on.

When asked to clarify this, a spokesman for the leader’s office said: “We’ve just said we’d back a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit.”

A Labour briefing paper to MPs says that any referendum would need to have “a credible Leave option and Remain”.

I don’t think that we should expect that Jeremy Corbyn will be backing a People’s Vote with the zeal of a convert. He will do so with about the same level of enthusiasm that I would have going for root canal treatment or a test on Russian grammar.

And ultimately he  would be quite happy to have a damaging Labour Brexit.

Labour MPs got the Government off the hook over the Cooper/Boles amendment which would have taken No Deal on 29th March off the table and Corbyn pretended not to notice.

If his MPs got the Government off the hook on a People’s Vote, the consequences for his party would be much more serious – yet it may still happen.

And if we do get that vote, what will Labour do?

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 81 Comments

A second Remain campaign must learn from its mistakes

If recent news reports are to be believed, a consensus on how best to achieve a second referendum is coming together. Vote through Theresa May’s deal on the proviso that it is put to the people first, with Remain an option on the ballot paper. There are many hurdles to jump over before then, not least convincing a reluctant Labour leadership to whip its MPs into voting for it. In preparation for the possibility, those campaigning on the Remain side should be gearing up for it, and we must learnt the lessons of the 2016 vote.

Firstly, it is vital to accept that a lot of people are going to be very angry about this. That is understandable. Their right to protest peacefully about a second referendum must be respected, upheld and admired.

Secondly, remainers should be careful about the way in which they speak about their opponents, and I refer here to both the politicians and the electorate as a whole. No patronising, no tarring leavers with the same brush as Nigel Farage and no condescension. It doesn’t help; it doesn’t address the valid concerns that people have about the EU; more importantly, it is a guaranteed vote-winner for the leave campaign.

Thirdly, it can’t be a negative campaign based on the horrors of the outcome of a leave vote. Facts and forecasts are important and should play a role, but there is a positive emotional case to be made and it must be heard. I want to hear more from the nurses from other EU countries, without whom the NHS wouldn’t function. I want to see more about UK citizens who have gone to live in other countries and made a success of it. I want to hear about small businesses that have made enduring partnerships with other businesses on the European mainland. I want to hear stories of friendships and relationships that have come about as a result of our ability to travel the EU with no restrictions. Positive stories that extol the virtues of freedom of movement and of free trade with our neighbours are going to have a far wider impact than graphs that predict economic doom if we were to leave. However accurate these may be, they should be used as evidence to back up the emotional arguments, rather than the main thrust of the campaign. If you’ve been trapped in low paid work (or indeed no work at all) for many years and you feel that the economic odds are stacked against you, then being told by someone who is clearly very well-off that you shouldn’t vote to leave the EU because it will damage the economy is not going to ring true. If a healthy economy is seen as only benefitting those at the top, then a campaign based on scare tactics will not work with the vast majority of the electorate.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

14 February 2019 – today’s press releases

  • No deal Brexit causing panic for people with diabetes (see here)
  • Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say
  • Cable: Govt defeat shows rejection of May’s time wasting

Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say

The Liberal Democrats have today tabled an amendment calling for a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.

The Liberal Democrats have ensured that there is a People’s Vote amendment for MPs to get behind on every single Brexit vote in the House of Commons.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

In an attempt to force through this unpopular deal,

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard Underhill. 14th Oct - 7:38pm
    Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 11:59am The Independent had a cynical comic strip which is now in the Daily Telegraph. Do you agree that...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill. 14th Oct - 7:25pm
    Senator Elizabeth Warren can win the US Presidency in 2020. Sunday Times 13/10/19, Main News section Page 25, columns 2-4. Niall Ferguson, Hoover Institution, Stanford....
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 14th Oct - 6:29pm
    In my logic, any sovereign activity, i.e. any exercise of power over citizens should be publicly run: prisons, probation, social "services" awarding (e.g.means-testing), or decisions...
  • User AvatarPaul Barker 14th Oct - 6:01pm
    The really big argument against Labour is that they are pulling the usual Right-Wing Populist trick of saying two contradictory things at the same time...
  • User AvatarColin Paine 14th Oct - 5:10pm
    Good to see Chuka distancing us from Labour on this, let's hope we do the same as regards their policy on renationalisng the energy industry.
  • User AvatarChris Cory 14th Oct - 5:04pm
    Agree with David R. Being interested in economic/business policy I just looked on the Lib Dem Business and Entepreneurs website (as mentioned above). Full membership...