Tag Archives: roger roberts

Roger Roberts on bringing hope to the most vulnerable

Lib Dem peer Roger Roberts spoke powerfully in the House of Lords this week on the subject of child refugees. He pleaded with the Government to reinstate the Dubs 3000 refugee children commitment. Here’s his speech in full.

My Lords, I am grateful for this opportunity. First, I will quote a friend who was there when the bulldozers came to demolish the camps in Dunkirk and Calais 12 months ago. He said that,

“after I visited the Calais refugee camp, I still have an image in my head, which I’m sure will be with me for the rest of my life. When I arrived at the camp, there were police in riot gear everywhere. There was a pastor standing, holding what was left of two religious buildings—a blue cross, which once stood atop the camp’s church. The look of complete despair. This was a man who had had the last bit of hope ripped away from him. To remove a religious symbol, a place of hope and prayer, from people who have only the clothes they are wearing and a shelter that is surrounded by mud, must be one of the worst, most inhumane things that I have ever witnessed”.

The demolition is not only of the camps, but of hope—replaced by despair. The refugees housed there were dispersed to different locations in France. The agreement was that the UK Home Office would go to all the “welcome centres”, as they were called, and do proper assessments of the young people and their claims. However, the evidence is that the interviews lasted no more than five minutes, and no interpreters were present. A few of the claimants were brought to the United Kingdom in the winter period, but those who qualified under the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, were ignored. Many who had a strong Dublin III claim were also overlooked. People who backed Brexit must realise that the Dublin EU regulations will no longer be there for the UK if we come out of the European Union. Another strand of hope will be gone.

There is evidence, reported by Professor Sue Clayton in her film, “Calais Children”, that in the welcome centres facilities were mixed. Some were good, but others not so, with no medical facilities, not enough food, opposition from local populations and many other problems. Hope was not rebuilt. Calais Action and other refugee organisations are still active in Calais; they are back there. Many refugees returned to Calais and, this very day, sleep in fields, forests and ditches. They dream of being physically present in the United Kingdom, where they have family—and they have the language. They gather at points of transit, in Calais itself, Dunkirk, Brussels and Zeebrugge. They risk their lives on illegal routes.

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Roger Roberts: Could we not be the nation that leads morally in this ruptured world

Yesterday, Roger Roberts was one of many Liberal Democrat peers to take part in the Queen’s Speech debate. He’s sent us his speech on the treatment of refugees, an issue very close to his heart:

 In the wide-ranging speeches, we had one great disappointment, and I am sure the Minister involved will know exactly what I am referring to; there has been no commitment at all to receiving the 20,000 Syrian refugees as promised by David Cameron. It is not there in the Queen’s Speech. Nor is there a commitment to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees. When you think that in Europe there are still about 88,000 of these children by themselves, we have met no commitment whatever in the Speech that we are discussing this afternoon. It has been a great disappointment in that direction.

We are probably going to get another immigration Bill; we get one every Session. I am not sure what we are going to do in a two-year Session: will we get two or just one and a half? We are going to get new legislation, and every time we do it makes it more difficult for those who are vulnerable and those who wish to escape from total austerity to come here. We can promote many amendments when that new Bill comes. We can ask why asylum seekers are still refused permission to work for the first 12 months of their time in the United Kingdom. Is there any reason whatever? I cannot see any. Why, also, do we have legislation that permits 18 year-olds to be deported? Those who are deported are largely those who have had no access to legal advice. The Government could, quite easily I think, make a commitment that everyone who approaches 18 years of age shall at least have the benefit of top-rate legal advice.

There is one other thing I would like to see in the new immigration Bill. Do you know how much people get every week when they are applying? It is £36.95, and this has not increased at all in the past five or six years. Anything that we can do to uprate that to the present cost of living would be very welcome.

I have come across a poem by Warsan Shire of Somalia that describes the circumstances, and I shall quote part of it:

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On Article 50 Eve, what are senior Liberal Democrats saying?

Who’s Eve, I hear you ask? Well, for me, as an ardent pro EU supporter, tonight feels a bit like Christmas Eve when you know that somehow you have found your way on to the Naughty List and all that’s going to be in your stocking in the morning is a lump of coal.

For those Leave voters who were duped into thinking that everything was going to be hunky dory if we could just get rid of that pesky EU, the reality may well prove far worse than that.

One thing is for sure. The Brexiteers will be held rigorously to account by the one party which has opposed them from the start – us.

Labour’s six tests unveiled on Sunday were, to paraphrase the old Commodores song, too much, too little, too late to ever trust them again. Their best chance of success would have been to support the Liberal Democrats’ bid to add a parachute to the Article 50 Bill, but they chose not to do so. They will not be easily forgiven.

Tomorrow is a very big day. It’s much more than the delivery of a letter. It’s the first step on a perilous journey, driven by people who haven’t got a clue what they are doing. The Government approaches the negotiations in such a mean-spirited, graceless fug of self-righteousness. I have rarely had such little confidence in any group of people as I do in them.

Ahead of Article 50 being invoked tomorrow, Tim Farron had this to say:

Theresa May is about to take the plunge on the biggest decision to hit the UK in modern times.

She is pulling the trigger that will set in motion a chain of events which will change this country forever, and doing so without a proper plan, without a proper team of negotiators and without proper protections for millions of people who have been left in the lurch.

It is still possible for the British people to stop a Hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. And if they want, it is still possible for the British people to decide to remain in the European Union.

Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June – and it hasn’t ended today either. Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting to make sure the people can have their say over what comes next.

There are some serious worries out there that the Government, rather than face up to its own shortcomings, will flounce off from the negotiations towards the end of this year, saying that the EU is being so intransigent that there’s no point sticking with it and we’re just leaving with no deal. Nick Clegg has set out why that is a bad idea on the Liberal Democrats’ website. Here’s a couple of examples:

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Roger Roberts: Referendum campaign was won on a lie on a bus built in Poland by a German company

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Roger Roberts pointed out that the most famous phrase from the campaign, the one which the Leave campaign’s director credits it with winning, the £350 million a week for the NHS, was a blatant lie and that alone justifies the people being given a vote on Brexit. He also added that the Government could not be trusted on its reassurances as it had already broken promises on refugees.

My Lords, when we are told that the people have spoken, we are referring to the one-third of the electorate who supported the Leave campaign. I would say that the people have not spoken. They were taken on a ride in a bus built in Poland by a German company. On its side it said, “When we are out of the EU, we will have £350 million a week to spend on the NHS”. That was the promise, yet in Arron Banks’s recently published book, The Bad Boys of Brexit, he says that from the beginning they knew that it was a blatant lie. One of the biggest donors, giving £5 million to the Leave campaign, has said that they knew from the beginning that it was a blatant lie.

If it was a lie, is it not possible that the result of the referendum was because of a lie on the side of a bus? In all probability, by the Leave campaign’s own admission, the referendum was won on a blatant lie. If that was so, we have every right to ask the people to consider it again when the time comes. It will determine the future of every one of us—our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This House can either go along with a lie or it can decide that we are going to stop this here.

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: The future of our European citizenship

Roger Roberts is pressing the government on the future of European citizenship this afternoon in a question in the House of Lords.

In an article for Politics Home, he sets out the issues at stake:

Our citizenship as members of the EU, is totally dependent upon the United Kingdom remaining a member of the EU. Once that is lost we, also, are denied that citizenship. There is a move in the EU Parliament to make citizenship available on an individual basis. We apply, pay our fee, and are granted a form of EU citizenship. The problem is that there can be few advantages – how does one person enjoy EU laws on Climate change and his neighbour not? How does one member of the family enjoy freedom of travel whilst the rest are left standing at the airport?

Over half the UK’s population were born after the UK joined the Union in January 1973. They were born as citizens of the EU – a birth right. The rest of us, already born, acquired that citizenship. Now that status risks being torn away from us. That is why I am raising this with the Government today. There is much that is still unclear about the Government’s plans for Brexit but they should clarify the position of the millions of people born 1973 that have always been European.

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Roger Roberts writes: we must do more for the Calais children

The crisis that we are faced with in the UK and Europe is only part of a worldwide migration crisis. We hear from the United Nations that there are 65 million displaced persons in the world, and we know that in Europe alone, as already mentioned, there are 88,000 unaccompanied children. In the years to come, our legacy will not be a good one for our children, because with global warming, economic disasters and conflict, the flow of refugees could well become a torrent. So we have to face years ahead when we will need to tackle problems such as …

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EU Referendum: Don’t forget to register to vote and other musings

Ballot boxOn 23 June 2016, Britain will face one of the greatest electoral questions of this decade. Voters will be asked to decide whether or not they wish to see the UK remain in the European Union.  Yet as this crucial election draws ever-nearer, there is an important issue which must be contemplated: registering to vote.

The deadline to register to vote for the referendum is midnight, 7 June. The party-neutral Bite The Ballot (of which Lord Roberts is Honorary President) is running an innovative #TurnUp campaign in the week approaching this deadline. I urge everyone to support this cause. It’s vital to ensure that the 30% of young people missing from the roll are able to have their say.

Regardless of how you choose to vote, it is crucial that all eligible voters turn up to vote and have their say on the future of Britain’s membership of the EU. That said, Lib Dems have adamantly chosen to become the party of remaining ‘IN’ the Union. Our party chooses this path because it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do. 

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 19th Mar - 11:25pm
    I see this agreement more in terms of "simply inevitable". It is only a win for the EU in the sense that the UK has...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Mar - 10:54pm
    Reuters Tonight : "Brexit transition deal which failed to deliver full control over fishing rights, with Conservatives suggesting they could not support a final agreement...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Mar - 9:43pm
    @ Arnold Kiel "A complete win for the EU". No need to seem so pleased about it, Mr. Kiel.
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 19th Mar - 9:20pm
    Conservative Home is currently a joy to read. Even JRM has been accused of being a traitor to the Brexit cause😀.
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 19th Mar - 9:10pm
    A complete win for the EU (and, unwillingly, the UK). Most importantly: Fox can start failing right away for everybody to see, hopefully in time....
  • User AvatarSimon Banks 19th Mar - 8:52pm
    Was "Tory" one of the profanities?