Tag Archives: tom brake

So Labour’s against a no-deal Brexit. Are we supposed to be grateful?

Labour’s Shadow Brexit Spokesperson Keir Starmer has been all over the media this morning proclaiming with great certainty that Labour is against a no-deal Brexit.

He actually said that with a straight face. You’d never have thought that Labour could have headed the prospect off at the pass by ensuring that the Article 50 Bill had a parachute attached to it so that we didn’t fall off the edge of a cliff. They could have ensured that we continued to stay in the single market and the customs union way back in January.

And don’t get me started on their lack of spirited campaigning during the referendum.

What is worrying me is that whenever the predicament we are in as a country starts to become clear, both Tories and Labour start trying to shift the focus onto No Deal in the hope that anything that eventually emerges from the negotiations will seem better in comparison. There is no better. There is only less horrendous. There is no satisfactory outcome other than staying in the EU.

As business gets seriously worried and it starts to dawn on the public that this Brexit idea is an absolute shambles, it looks very much like Labour is going to find itself on the wrong side of public opinion if it doesn’t actively look for a way to drag the country off the ledge.

Nothing we are hearing from Labour at the moment gives me any sense that the leadership is shifting its position.

John McDonnell might wring his hands on the sidelines all he likes. What Labour needs to do is pull a shift at actually opposing the Government.

In a tweet this morning, Vince gave them a good telling off:

Meanwhile, Tom Brake called on Labour to agree to an “exit from Brexit” referendum:

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WATCH: Liberal Democrat MPs slam Government’s contemptuous approach to Parliament

This afternoon, Alistair Carmichael led an emergency debate, which he had secured, to raise the many ways in which the Government is marginalising Parliament. From ignoring Opposition Day debates to curtailing debate on legislation to the Henry VIII powers.

His speech introducing the debate was excellent. Watch it here.

My favourite bits are this:

The best Governments—and if ever there was a time in our country’s history when we needed the best possible Government, this is surely it—are those that are tested by Parliament, by the Opposition parties and by their own Back Benchers. Time and again, our system fails when the Government and the Opposition agree and arguments remain untested. How different might the debates on the case for going to war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003 have been if the then Opposition had been prepared to take a more questioning approach to Tony Blair’s case? I am sad to say that this Government, however, do not welcome scrutiny by Parliament, but rather seek to avoid it.

and the bit where he challenged MPs to get assertive:

In one sense, the Government have done us a favour by bringing this issue to a head, because it forces us as a House to decide what our role in the future of this country is going to be. Is it to be an active participant, with a strong voice and a decisive say, or is it to be a supine bystander as the Government continue to do as they wish, regardless of their lack of a mandate and, as is increasingly obvious, their lack of authority.

I have been a member of many debating societies over the years. They have all been fine organisations that provided entertainment and mental stimulation in equal measure. I mean them therefore no disrespect when I say that I stood for Parliament believing I was doing something more significant than signing up for a debating society. The difference is that in Parliament—in this House—we can actually effect change. Whether we choose to do so is in our own hands.

I loved the fact that the Tories responded by slagging off the Liberal Democrats in the most immature way as they clearly had no defence.

Christine Jardine said that MPs were there to serve the electorate, not to play games. She talked about seeing Parliament as others see it and the impression it gives to people outside who were not involved in politics.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Lib Dems react to Theresa May’s Florence speech

Vince said that it was no wonder the Brexiteers were terrified of giving the people a say on the deal:

Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.

Neither are prepared to fight to keep Britain in the single market and customs union or to offer people a chance to exit from Brexit

Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS, instead Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts.

Willie Rennie said the “delinquent’ May was trashing our relationship with Europe.

Theresa May is kicking the can down the road. Sixteen months on from the Brexit referendum this delinquent Prime Minister is trashing our relationship with Europe.

She seems incapable of deciding what kind of relationship she wants with Europe and that prolonged uncertainty is causing economic damage.

We were promised Brexit would be an easy negotiation and that £350 million each week would be invested in the NHS. Neither are true.

This makes the compelling case for a Brexit deal referendum even stronger.

Yesterday, the Lib Dems laid out seven tests for Theresa May’s speech. Tom Brake said that only one of them was even slightly met. 

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WATCH: Tom Brake’s speech in Brexit Bill debate: This Bill must be resisted at every turn

Tom Brake spoke for the Lib Dems in the Commons debate on the Brexit Bill today. Watch in full here. The text is below.

There were some excellent speeches after the Secretary of State’s. Things went slight downhill after that but things started to look up with the maiden speech by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield). I have just one slight criticism: she did not mention Barham in her list of villages, which is one I know very well. I thank the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) for his speech and his reference to the monstrosity that is this Bill.

The Liberal Democrats believe that Parliament must be given comprehensive sovereignty and scrutiny over this process. This opinion is widely supported, not just by many Members on both sides of this House but organisations such as the Law Society, which states that the Bill

“must respect parliament’s role in making and approving changes to UK law”.

Parliament must drive the future of the United Kingdom and of Brexit, not Ministers using executive—indeed dictatorial—powers to exercise total control over the legislative process. The Government’s decision to provide just two days for Second Reading means that Members will have just five minutes in which to make their points and eight days in Committee for a Bill that unravels 40 years of closer EU co-operation, shows the extent to which Parliament is held in contempt by Ministers.

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Why are Lib Dems trying to find common ground with Eurosceptics?

Tom Brake calls on Eurosceptic MPs to back  Parliamentary Sovereignty screams the press release from LDHQ.  What’s that all about? The Tory hardcore aren’t going to listen to a damn thing a Lib Dem says. Not while the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Basically, he’s saying to them – you spent the referendum banging on about our Parliament getting its powers back, now it’s up to you to make sure it does.

In a letter to the 21 Brexiteer signatories of this pre-ferefendum missive in the Telegraph who are still MPs, Tom says:

I am writing to you regarding the European Union Withdrawal Bill.

I am sure that we are in agreement that this Bill is of the utmost importance for the future of the UK and its relationship with the European Union. This Bill will affect a wide range of policy areas and lead to the incorporation of hundreds of pieces of EU law into UK law.

It is therefore imperative that Parliament is given full sovereignty and scrutiny over this process. This opinion is widely supported, with the Law Society stating that the Bill ‘must respect parliament’s role in making and approving changes to UK law’ and Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London, stating that the Bill ‘isn’t simply cut and paste’ for transferring EU laws to UK law.

You may remember the letter you co-wrote and signed in the Daily Telegraph on 31st January 2016 regarding parliamentary sovereignty. In this letter you stated, ‘Whatever one’s views on the EU debate, many will agree that parliamentary sovereignty should be the key focus in any renegotiations.’   I am certain therefore that you will agree with me that parliamentary sovereignty should be the key focus also when considering a Bill of such importance to our future outside the EU.  To deny the importance of parliamentary sovereignty in relation to this Bill would be hypocritical and inconsistent with your previous stance.

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Not the best day for the British government’s Brexit endeavours

It’s not been the best day for the British Government. Theresa May had to accept that Japan’s immediate priority was its trade deal with the EU, which should not be surprising given that it gives access to half a billion people compared to our 60 million.

In the joint press conference held by Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Theresa May, Mr Abe stopped short of committing to a rapid new trade deal after Brexit, saying only that the two leaders would discuss the issue.

Instead, the Japanese Prime Minister stressed the need for a smooth and orderly Brexit that minimises disruption for Japanese investors in the UK.

Alistair Carmichael said:

Theresa May went to Japan seeking a new trade deal, she’s now had to admit the biggest priority will be completing the one the EU is already negotiating.

Once again the promises of the Brexiteers have been dashed on the rocks of reality.

It’s a sign of the Prime Minister’s weakness that rather than going abroad to fight for British jobs, she’s been forced to desperately fight for her own.

The chances of the UK getting a trade deal with Japan before Brexit are about as slim as the odds of Theresa May staying on to fight the next election.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, the Brexit negotiations aren’t going well for our Brexiteers. At a joint press conference, Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, warned there has been “no decisive progress” on key issues and there were issues of “trust” between the two sides.

Tom Brake said:

The government is stuck in a Brexit quagmire of its own making, and risks taking the country down with it.

Five months on since Article 50 was triggered, progress in these talks has been almost non-existent.

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Don’t get too excited about Labour’s Brexit baby step

The Observer headlines Keir Starmer’s announcement that Labour might be prepared to back a longer transitional arrangement to keep us in the single market for longer as a “dramatic shift.”

That editor must have lead a really sheltered life if they think that reversing the tank a few metres back from the cliff edge in the middle of a storm is actually going to help that much.

The claim that Labour is now the party of soft Brexit is laughable. Soft Brexit means staying in the single market and the customs union in a Norway style arrangement. Labour’s position is the same as some Tory hard Brexiteers who support a two year transitional period before leaving the single market and customs union altogether.

Labour’s so-called shift is nothing but a baby step and it’s not even in the right direction. Any transitional period will come to an end and we will end up out of the single market and suddenly much poorer.

If you want a party that is willing to be honest about the very dangerous territory we are now in and which is prepared to offer people a way out of the mess, you have to go with the Liberal Democrats. Labour will not help. Some of them may want to go further, but Corbyn is holding them back.

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