Tag Archives: peoples vote

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.

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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.

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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

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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

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

The text follows:

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

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

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A momentary lapse

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

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

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

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

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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

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Let us Celebrate European Democracy!

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

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

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

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

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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 …

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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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,

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8 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Jenny Rathbone Warning Unacceptable – Welsh Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the decision to only give Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone a formal warning following an investigation into anti-Semitic comments she made.

Jenny Rathbone had already been readmitted into the Welsh Labour Assembly Group in January whilst the investigation was ongoing.

Her remarks about a synagogue in Cyncoed were branded “extremely offensive” by the synagogue’s rabbi Michoel Rose.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:

It’s extremely disappointing Jenny Rathbone has been admitted to the party with only a formal warning for her comments, which were clearly anti-Semitic.

I can only imagine the

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6 February 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis
  • Lib Dems: 50 days until Brexit cliff-edge
  • Greg Clark’s warning exposes recklessness of Tory Govt
  • Lib Dems: Govt must investigate civil service support for Tory meetings
  • Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime

Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis

Responding to the research by Age UK showing that more than 50,000 older people have now died waiting in vain for care during the 700 days since the Government first said it would publish a Social Care Green Paper, Former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

These figures

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At what point do we call for Article 50 to be revoked?

At what point short of the cliff edge do Liberal Democrats say “Enough!” When in this utterly bonkers trashing of our economy do we call for the immediate revocation of Article 50?

We know that the UK can do that without requiring the consent of the other 27 EU member states.

We also have it as  part of our policy to call on the Government to suspend Article 50 to legislate for a People’s Vote or to avoid no deal and, if that suspension isn’t agreed, to call for the revocation of Article 50.  Here’s the motion we passed at Conference last year.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:

Fight for an “exit from Brexit” referendum to be held once the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations is known, for the public to choose between “the deal” or Britain remaining a full member of the EU.

Campaign for Britain to remain a full and active member of the EU.

Enable all UK citizens living abroad to vote for MPs in separate overseas constituencies, and to participate in UK referendums.

Introduce votes at 16 for all elections and referendums across the UK.

Conference calls for:

The Government to release full impact assessments of all options, prior to any meaningful parliamentary vote, thereby demonstrating that there is no Brexit deal on offer that will deliver the promises of the Leave campaign.

The Government to seek to extend Article 50 if required to legislate for a referendum on the deal, or to provide enough negotiating time to avoid a catastrophic no-deal scenario, and if such extension is not agreed to withdraw the Article 50 notification.

The right to full participation in civic life, including the ability to stand for office or vote in UKreferendums and General Elections, to be extended to all EU citizens not already entitled tovote as Irish or Commonwealth citizens, who have lived in the UK for five years or longer.

The UK Government to guarantee unilaterally in law, including in a no-deal scenario, the rights of all EU citizens living in the UK, ringfencing the Withdrawal Agreements’ Chapter on citizens’ rights.

The bit about the revocation was put in as an amendment, but was not opposed by the leadership. It’s not as if Conference forced them into something that they didn’t want to do like we did over the immigration motion.

So the motion commits us to fighting for a People’s Vote and to campaign for Remain in that referendum. We are obliged to do that, therefore, until that becomes impossible.  I agree with Vince that there is a route to getting it, but the deal will have to be rejected by the Commons again first.

At that point, if the Government refuses to ask for the suspension of Article 50, or if that suspension was refused. then we should without doubt call for it to be revoked. 

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The 3 Arguments I wish Remainers would stop making (and I’m a Remainer!)

We may not have got much credit for it in the polls, but the growth of the People’s Vote Campaign is a Lib Dem success story. Our policy broke into the mainstream, caused a march of 700,000 people, and gained supporters from every major Party (other than UKIP, that would be weird.)

The reason for the growing popularity of the People’s Vote is because – I believe – the central argument for it is compelling, and goes something like this:

Britain voted for a departure but not a destination. We now have a much clearer idea of what

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Don’t let no deal talk distract from how bad the deal actually is

The next crucial vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal takes place on Tuesday. Much of the focus has been on taking no deal off the table. That’s important, because it would be a disaster.

However, we shouldn’t forget that the actual deal would damage us too, leaving us poorer and less safe.

Back in November, the Bank of England said that all forms of Brexit would leave us worse off than staying in the EU.

Vince said at the time:

The Bank of England has concluded that Brexit – with or without a deal – will leave the UK poorer, less productive and with an economy 4% smaller than if we had stayed in the EU.

Although the headlines are drawn to the dramatic economic collapse forecasted in the event of no deal, this report shows that the deal will cause harm to our economy and the living standards of people around the country.

The Conservative Government must stop using fears of no-deal to pretend that its deal will be good for the economy; today’s assessments put that myth to bed. It is time for a final say on the deal, with the option to remain.

This came around the same time as Philip Hammond admitted that there wasn’t an outcome of Brexit that would leave the country better off.

Tom Brake said:

It was shocking to hear the Chancellor candidly admit that Brexit will make the country poorer.

The Government’s own analysis shows real wages falling, every region in the UK worse off and no Brexit dividend.

The assessment of Theresa May’s deal assumes a rapid transition to a frictionless trade deal with the EU and other free trade arrangements with third-party countries, but the prospect of these negotiations happening quickly is wildly optimistic.

In reality the Conservatives’ deal could leave the UK much worse off than even these dour assessments forecast.

The case is stronger than ever for giving the public the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.

And Ed Davey found the Withdrawal Agreement withdrew the UK from useful information networks:

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25 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Brake: Lavery’s comments show Labour figures still ignoring party members

Responding to Ian Lavery’s comments that a People’s Vote would be divisive, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

I am sure many Labour voters will see these comments by their Party Chair as the real divisiveness.

He side steps the fact that campaigning for a public vote is Labour policy after last year’s conference.

Labour can either join the Conservatives and push this deeply unpopular Brexit through, or act in the interests of the country and on the wishes of their supporters and join the Liberal Democrat campaign for a

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Out of Brexit Chaos part 2: Government of National Unity

In the preceding article, on the People’s Vote , I argued that the process should be given significantly more time.

However, we also have a real problem: both of the big parties are too fractured either to govern or to face a General Election. The unedifying results create the opposite of the sense of stability needed for such the People’s Vote.

This is the time for a Government of National Unity bringing people together from across Parliament, not as a formal coalition between parties, but as an interim arrangement, which would need a more collaborative way of working. The obvious person to lead this is Kenneth Clark. This is partly because of his considerable depth and experience. Age means he is also likely to stand down at the next General Election, so it would be clear that the Government of National Unity is there to provide stability in an exceptional time without being subsequently returned to power. He is also sufficiently unpopular with the right wing of his party to mean that MPs from across the Commons could support him.

The clear message from forming a Government of National Unity is that we are in exceptional times. Something exceptional needs to happen to enable the People’s Vote to happen fairly. Frustration with politics will have produced a different way of doing politics.

How can a Government of National Unity form?

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, an election happens if the Commons passes a motion that it has no confidence in the government and doesn’t then pass a motion that it does have confidence within a fortnight. With sufficient agreement among MPs in advance, it would be possible for Tory MPs to vote with the Opposition “no confidence” in Theresa May’s government, and then “confidence” in the Government of National Unity.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 33 Comments

21 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Some good news today, as the Government has withdrawn the £65 charge for EU citizens to register for settled status. Admittedly though, they’re still at the mercy of a Home Office not necessarily recognised for its compassion or competence, but it is at least a start…

And with that, here are today’s press releases…

  • Home Office settled status scheme risks new Windrush scandal
  • Swinson: Govt Chief Whip must resign if he is blocking proxy voting
  • New laws only help domestic abuse victims if there’s cash to enforce them
  • Lib Dems: Will Corbyn agree with Gardiner and vote for a People’s Vote?
  • Government cave on unfair EU

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Vince Cable tells Theresa May, “the votes may be there for a People’s Vote”

Yesterday, Vince Cable wrote to Theresa May, offering her a way to solve her Brexit crisis…

Prime Minister

I appreciate the opportunity to have had a proper conversation with you about our views on the way forward on Brexit and my colleagues have had a useful discussion with yours about the practicalities of a referendum and its timing. We have followed up the discussions with a note to David Liddington setting out our views on how a People’s Vote could be organised quickly.

Our positions are, at first sight, far apart. But I reiterate the point that, as it currently stands, your plan

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 15 Comments
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