Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rail electrification scrapped in "betrayal of passengers"


The government has scrapped the planned electrification of railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North in a statement sneaked out today.

The Department for Transport has claimed that planned electrification works between Cardiff and Swansea, Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield, and Windermere and Oxenholme will no longer be needed due to the introduction of new trains.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary Jenny Randerson commented:

"This decision is a betrayal of passengers across the country who would have benefited from these upgraded routes.

"The Liberal Democrats secured vital investment for rail electrification when in government.

"That was then delayed by the Tories and now has been scrapped altogether.

"Much-needed infrastructure investment is being neglected because of this government's obsession with an extreme and damaging Brexit."
The government has scrapped the planned electrification of railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North in a statement sneaked out today.

The Department for Transport has claimed that planned electrification works between Cardiff and Swansea, Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield, and Windermere and Oxenholme will no longer be needed due to the introduction of new trains.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary Jenny Randerson commented:

"This decision is a betrayal of passengers across the country who would have benefited from these upgraded routes.

"The Liberal Democrats secured vital investment for rail electrification when in government.

"That was then delayed by the Tories and now has been scrapped altogether.

"Much-needed infrastructure investment is being neglected because of this government's obsession with an extreme and damaging Brexit."

Violent crime up and police numbers down shows "record of failure"

Violent crime has risen by 18% across England and Wales in the last year, according to new statistics today. The Liberal Democrats said the figures revealed the government's "record of failure" on crime.

It is the largest annual rise in crime for a decade and includes increases of 16% in robbery and 14% in sex offences.

It comes as separate figures show there are 900 fewer police officers compared to last year.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey commented:
 
“The Conservative record of failure on crime has been exposed - crime is up and police numbers are down.

"This Government is failing in its duty to keep our streets safe.

"The Conservatives have utterly disrespected the police by freezing their wages and cutting their budgets time and again.

“It's time for the Government to admit the impact of these savage cuts and ensure our police have the funding they need to keep us safe."


Monday, July 17, 2017

Brake slams government over failure to condemn Saudi child executions


Liberal Democrat Shadow First Secretary of State Tom Brake has today asked an urgent question to the government on the imminent execution of fourteen people in Saudi Arabia, including two who were juveniles at the time of their arrests.

The group were all arrested in 2012 for allegedly participating in protests. The trials were held by a specialist court, set up to deal with cases of terrorism. Juveniles Mujtaba Sweikat and Salman Qureish were only 17 when they were alleged to have taken part in the protests.

Commenting Tom Brake said:

“Saudi Arabia’s disgusting record of executing minors and protesters cannot be ignored.

“I am ashamed of our government which is more interested in trade deals than defending human rights.

"Today I called on them to stand up to Saudi Arabia and make it clear that there will be consequences if these 14 are executed. To do less would be effectively to sanction these abuses.”
 

Monday, July 10, 2017

IFS response - Theresa May is betraying the Just about Managing


According to data released today (Monday) from the Institute for Fiscal Studies families dependent on fathers' earnings alone have average incomes no higher than 15 years ago.  Commenting on the news, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

"Millions of families are no better off than they were 15 years ago. These people are the just about managing and they have been betrayed by Theresa May.

"In 2017, people should not be sitting there at the end of month worrying if they can buy essentials or public sector workers having to go to food-banks.

"The Prime Minister said she would help them and yet she has done nothing. Never has someone in recent times talked so big and delivered so little.

"People are struggling and the government just don't seem to care.  It is time millions of people get the pay rise they deserve."

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Tom Brake MP blasts Government for ‘fingers-in-ears approach to Brexit’

The Liberal Democrats’ Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake has accused the Government of being “clueless” about Britain’s trading relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

Mr Brake’s comments come after the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said “frictionless trade” would be impossible if Britain leaves the Single Market and the Customs Union.

Tom Brake said: “This statement from the EU is another in a long line of examples that expose the Government’s fingers-in-ears approach to Brexit.

“We have been told once again that the Government’s plan for a reckless hard Brexit will damage businesses, thwart exporters and cripple producers in the UK. Trade barriers in the form of high tariffs on exports will lead to untold misery for farmers and manufacturers all over Britain.

“The Conservatives are clueless about our future relationship with the EU, and the Labour Party have capitulated to the Government’s plans. The Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for an open, tolerant and sensible Brexit that prioritises jobs over dog-whistle calls for less immigration.”

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Report shows Liam Fox’s department is a disaster - Lib Dems


Department for International Trade (DIT) figures on Foreign Direct Investment show that the number of new jobs created by foreign investment fell by 9% last year, with the number of company expansions also falling.  Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has blasted Liam Fox’s department as a ‘disaster’.
The data, released by DIT this morning show that new jobs created due to investment have fallen by 9%.  The jobs in 2015/16 created was 82,650 and for 2016/17 has fallen to 75,226.
Also company expansions are down 5% from 821 to 782 and mergers down 6% from 262 in 2015/16 to 246 a year later.
Commenting Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
"This report shows that Liam Fox’s department is a disaster.  If the International Trade Department cannot grow international trade, what are they actually for?
“While Liam Fox sits about in airport departure lounges of some of the world's sunniest spots  businesses back here in the UK are now seeing a Brexit squeeze which is impacting on our economy.
“This government have no plan, no idea and no clue and this report is the latest evidence.  Never has a minister risen so far and been more useless.”

Friday, June 30, 2017

Online fraud report shows Home Secretary is rudderless

An National Audit Office report in to online fraud has revealed that the true overall cost of online fraud is unknown and that the police do not work with accurate figures. In 2016, the Annual Fraud Indicator reported that individuals lost an estimated £10 billion to fraud.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey said:
 
“This is a damning report by the National Audit Office. This government likes to tell us that crime is falling, but in reality it is just changing and online fraud is a huge problem. The Home Office can’t simply turn a blind eye and leave it low on the priority list simply because forces don’t know how to respond to it.

"The Home Secretary appears to be rudderless at a time where we need clear leadership from the top. This must change. I hope that her office will take a close look at this report and start taking this issue seriously.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

May has snubbed our public sector heroes - Farron


 

Following the Government victory in maintaining the cap on public sector pay, leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:

"This evening the DUP have stood alongside their Tory paymasters cheering at the fact that they have withheld more pay for our police, our firefighters, our nurses and our teachers. Shame on them

"After Theresa May's disastrous missteps this shows nature of the government we have been left with.

"This U-turn on a U-turn will stick in the throat of million of hard working public servants, many of whom recently ran towards danger, be it Manchester, Grenfell or London Bridge. These people go above and beyond and yet the Government snubs them."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EU's Google fine in "sharp contrast" with government's sweetheart tax deal


The Liberal Democrats have said that the EU's decision to fine Google £2.1bn for distorting the market stands in "sharp contrast" with the UK government's tax deal struck with the company last year.

Liberal Democrat Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
"This hefty punishment acts as a stark warning to others that search results must be fair to online retailers and ensure healthy competition.

"It shows that by acting together across Europe, we can hold global giants like Google to account and protect consumer rights and smaller businesses.

"This decisive action stands in sharp contrast to our own Conservative government, which has fallen over itself to offer a sweetheart tax deal to Google.

"It seems doubtful that this government would ever have the courage to stand up to major international businesses in this way post-Brexit."

Poverty stats must be a wake up call for Tories - Farron


Data released by the Office for National Statistics today shows 4.6 million people were classed as being trapped in a vicious cycle of ‘persistent’ poverty. Commenting on the news, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“These figures must be a wakeup call for the Conservatives. In Britain, 4.6 Million people endured persistent hardship and poverty. For all the Conservatives talk, these figures show they just don’t care and sadly, I think poverty is going to get worse.
“The divisive Brexit the government is pushing is putting jobs at risk and this means more and more people will be driven to the edge.
“Those who are consistently poor were found to have more extreme mental health problems than the general population, with high levels of self-reported anxiety and unhappiness.  The government just seem to shrug and are not doing enough to help the poorest.
“These statistics chime with other recent reports which signalled a surge in levels of homelessness in Britain, found higher levels of inequality, and showed an ever-widening gap between the rich and poor.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lib Dems: Labour must come off the fence on benefits freeze


The Liberal Democrats have called on Labour to come off the fence and make clear whether they would end the benefits freeze that will see the incomes of millions of families slashed in the coming years.

Labour Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams on Sunday said she was "looking" into the issue but admitted ending the freeze had not been costed in the Labour manifesto.

It comes as research by the charity Shelter has warned over a million households living in private rented accommodation are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of the benefits freeze, rising rents and a lack of social housing.

Under current proposals, an average working family on tax and child credits would be around £780 worse off a year by 2021 due to the benefits freeze.

The Liberal Democrats have committed to unfreezing benefits and up-rating them in line with inflation.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Lloyd commented:

"Labour have failed to commit to helping struggling families by unfreezing benefits. After Debbie Abraham's comments yesterday,  their position remains as clear as mud.

"It's time for Labour to come off the fence and tell us whether they support slashing the incomes of the poorest in society or not.

"Millions of working households across the country will see their incomes cut by hundreds of pounds in the years ahead.

"We need to ensure that families who are already struggling to get by are not pushed over the edge."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lib Dems table amendment on Single Market to Queen's Speech


The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech calling for Britain to stay the single market and customs union.

The party is now calling on both Labour and Conservative MPs to support the amendment and inflict a historic defeat on the government, forcing Theresa May to soften her extreme approach to Brexit.

An amendment to the Queen's speech last year was accepted by the government after it received cross-party support.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"We've already seen living standards fall and prices rise since last year's Brexit vote.

"But this is nothing compared to the pain that would be caused by Theresa May's extreme version of Brexit.

"Tearing up Britain's membership of the world's largest market would mean fewer jobs, higher prices in the shops and a long-term blow to our prosperity.

"We will not give up the fight to protect our economy by staying in the Single Market and Customs Union.

"I am urging all like-minded Labour and Conservative MPs to be on the right side of history and back this amendment."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Prisons and Courts Bill dropped from Queen’s Speech – Lib Dem response


Following the failure of the government to put forward a Prisons and Courts Bill, Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson Jonathan Marks has seized on an open letter by the Justice Secretary today which made no mention of the bill being axed.

Jonathan Marks, who will continue to call for prison improvement and reform, said:

“The Prisons and Courts Bill was a flagship piece of legislation for the last government but has been unceremoniously dropped from this Queen’s Speech. The crisis in our prisons may have dropped out of headlines but remains a huge problem.

"Our prisons are hangovers from the Victorian era in need of urgent upgrading and we must get a grip on the numbers being sent to prison. Overcrowding has lead to violence, self-harm and deaths – this cannot be allowed to continue.

"This was a key piece of legislation that would have made our prisons and courts fit for the 21st century but it is clear that this Conservative Government is too hobbled to introduce any radical legislation. The lack of ambition shown is likely to be a hallmark of this government, the only question is how long it will survive.”

Liberal Democrats secure commitment from Home Secretary on Commission for Countering Extremism


 
Today in the House of Commons the Rt Hon Ed Davey secured a commitment from the Home Secretary that the Commission for Countering Extremism would listen to voices from all communities who are willing to work with the Government to defeat extremism.

Commenting after the statement in the chamber Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary said:

“It is absolutely vital that the Government works with the communities most likely to be affected by counter extremism and de-radicalisation programmes. For all the good the Prevent strategy may have achieved it has been fatally wounded by the lack of trust the Muslim community has in it and the toxicity surrounding the brand.

If we are determined to defeat violent extremism then we must be sure to work in partnerships with all communities who share our vision and not alienate the very communities that are likely to be able to offer the best intelligence and the strongest counter-narratives.

The Liberal Democrats will follow the process of the establishment on the Commission for Countering Extremism to ensure it is inclusive and avoids making the same mistakes as the Prevent strategy.”
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jo Swinson is new Lib Dem Deputy Leader


Jo Swinson has been elected unanimously as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The result was announced on Tuesday evening at the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party meeting.

Jo will continue in her role as Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Jo Swinson said:

"I am very proud to have been elected by a newly energised and strengthened parliamentary party.

"The government has no majority and no mandate for its extreme version of Brexit, which would do such damage to the health of our economy and the fabric of our society.

"In this balanced parliament the Liberal Democrats will be a powerful influence and a strong voice for people who want to see an open, welcoming and tolerant United Kingdom."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:

“Jo Swinson is a brilliant campaigner and someone I am proud to call a friend. I am in no doubt she will be a fantastic Deputy Leader of our party.

“Jo is the future of the Liberal Democrats and will make a massive difference laying out a liberal alternative to this divisive Brexit government. Her hard work as a local MP and impressive record as a minister leave us in no doubt that she will be a powerful voice for our party.”
ENDS
Jo Swinson has been elected unanimously as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The result was announced on Tuesday evening at the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party meeting.

Jo will continue in her role as Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Jo Swinson said:

"I am very proud to have been elected by a newly energised and strengthened parliamentary party.

"The government has no majority and no mandate for its extreme version of Brexit, which would do such damage to the health of our economy and the fabric of our society.

"In this balanced parliament the Liberal Democrats will be a powerful influence and a strong voice for people who want to see an open, welcoming and tolerant United Kingdom."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:

“Jo Swinson is a brilliant campaigner and someone I am proud to call a friend. I am in no doubt she will be a fantastic Deputy Leader of our party.

“Jo is the future of the Liberal Democrats and will make a massive difference laying out a liberal alternative to this divisive Brexit government. Her hard work as a local MP and impressive record as a minister leave us in no doubt that she will be a powerful voice for our party.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Firefighting heroes pay plummets due to austerity – Cable


Sir Vince Cable has seized on Philip Hammond’s admitting that the public are “weary” of austerity by calling for an end to the public sector wage cap – which will see fire fighters an estimated £1,423 worse off in real terms by 2020/1.

Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Sir Vince Cable said: 

“The public pay cap was necessary to tackle the massive deficit but firefighters such as the heroes of the Grenfell Tower disaster cannot be expected to suffer real falls in living standards indefinitely.

“They are already suffering a Brexit squeeze with rising prices and a falling pound. The challenge of public sector pay is an example of why Philip Hammond must win the battle within government to remain in the single market and customs union or the fall in tax revenue will make it impossible to give public sector workers the pay rises they deserve. You can't have an extreme Brexit and decent public sector pay.”
 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gove has betrayed consumers on cheap food – Farron


Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has attacked new Environment Secretary Michael Gove for U-turning on cheap food.  During the referendum campaign Gove promised British consumers they would enjoy cut-price groceries due to there being more imports from outside the EU. However, with the government’s extreme Brexit under threat as the Conservatives split over the single market and customs union, Gove has rowed back from his promise.

Tim Farron said:

“This is yet another Brexit lie, to go with the £350m a week extra Michael Gove promised the NHS. He has only had his feet back under the cabinet table a few days and he has already broken another major promise. He told voters that after Brexit there would be honey for tea, but now reality is starting to bite he is offering British consumers nothing but thin gruel.

“The public are already suffering a Brexit squeeze of higher prices and shrinking product sizes due to the devastating devaluation of the pound caused by Theresa May’s extreme Brexit. Meanwhile, farmers are still waiting to hear if the Conservatives will continue as part of any post-Brexit arrangements to give them the subsidies they currently receive from the EU.

“It is clear the government has no clue, no strategy and no shame. It is falling apart before our eyes, and it is the British public paying the price.”