Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Extending transition period is the right thing to do

Following a new Focaldata poll showing 64% of voters want Boris Johnson to “request an extension to the transition period in order to focus properly on the Coronavirus”, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said: 

“Extending the Brexit transition period now is the right thing to do. Boris Johnson must give tackling Coronavirus the government’s undivided focus. Saving lives must be the priority. 

“This isn’t about old debates, it’s about the stark reality our country and the world is now faced with. Liberal Democrats will continue to urge the Prime Minister to immediately extend the Brexit talks.”

Government must provide clearer guidance to remove crackdown confusion

Responding to the various reports of police action in response to the Coronavirus crisis lock-down, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"The fact that police forces across the country seem to be taking wildly different approaches to enforcing social distancing rules is incredibly concerning. 

"Of course common sense must prevail, but we are in an unprecedented situation with controls being put in place that the country has never experienced before. The government have not put clear guidelines in place and the result is that neither police nor families are sure what they should be doing. 

"The vast majority of people are trying to do the right thing. The government must make sure that the public have the advice they need to help stop the spread of the virus."

UK and EU should intervene on Viktor Orban power grab

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called for joint UK and EU intervention following Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban obtaining sweeping new powers to manage the country’s Coronavirus epidemic. He said:

“While emergency powers are clearly necessary to deal with this crisis, democrats across the world will have deep concerns for the human rights of the Hungarian people after this almighty power grab.

“We have already seen a serious deterioration of the rule of law in Hungary under Viktor Orban. We must not allow him to use the Coronavirus epidemic to curtail freedom of speech and take for himself the power to rule by decree.

“The Prime Minister must immediately engage our European partners and, together with the European Union, urgently intervene in order to protect the democratic rights of the Hungarian people.”

Davey responds to Foreign Secretary's update on coronavirus

Responding to yesterday's update on coronavirus from the Foreign Secretary, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"Reports from many British citizens stuck overseas bring home the reality of the global scale of this crisis. Many have been in a desperate position, unsure whether they will be able to secure accommodation or access adequate supplies.

"The Foreign Office must ensure that British citizens will be able to return home, wherever they have been stranded, without exception. We welcome the steps the government is taking to charter flights in order to get people home, and to work to ensure commercial flights remain available where possible. 

"However, questions remain about why this announcement has taken so long. Thousands have been seeking urgent assistance for weeks as borders have closed. The delay has caused huge amounts of worry both for those stuck overseas and their families and friends in the UK. 

"The government must now make every possible effort to directly contact British citizens who are stuck, and do whatever is necessary to ensure they can board repatriation flights."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Lib Dems secure Govt assurances on human rights and scrutiny of emergency coronavirus powers

When the Coronavirus Bill reached the House of Lords last Wednesday, the Liberal Democrats secured assurances from the Government that the wide-ranging emergency powers will be compliant with human rights law, and that Ministers will have to justify keeping the powers in force.

An amendment tabled by Liberal Democrat peer Sarah Ludford pressed the Government on ensuring the legislation, which include extra powers for police and immigration officers to detain people and the power to restrict or ban events and gatherings, would be used only as necessary and proportionate. The Government Minister, Lord Bethell of Romford, assured the House that it would act with proportionality “at all times”.

In response to a separate amendment tabled by cross-bencher Lord Anderson of Ipswich, a former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and co-sponsored by Baroness Ludford, the Government conceded that it would provide “evidence and explanations” for keeping the emergency powers in force in its two-monthly reports to Parliament, beyond what was explicitly required in the Bill.

Following the debate in the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat peer Sarah Ludford said:

“We are pleased to have secured these assurances from the Government during what has been an incredibly important legislative process.“

"We understand the need for wide-ranging emergency powers to deal with this crisis, but the Government must only use those powers when they are necessary and proportionate.

“Liberal Democrats will remain vigilant to ensure that any restrictions on civil liberties are only temporary. We will continue to scrutinise the Government to ensure that people’s rights and freedoms are not curtailed any more than necessary, and are fully restored once this crisis is over.”

Davey: Many self-employed cannot wait until June

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement of support measures for the self-employed, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:

“It does seem that Liberal Democrat pressure for a package for the self-employed has paid off, but I am hugely concerned about how long this will take to deliver.

“Many sole traders like taxi drivers, hairdressers and cleaners will not be able to wait until June. 

“I also worry about people who have been self-employed for less than a year who seem to be forgotten by this scheme. Many will have risked their savings to get started and it looks like they will get nothing from the package.

“The Chancellor's promise that the self-employed can access loans is also worthless to the vast majority who won’t be able to provide the personal guarantees banks are asking small businesses for. 

“Liberal Democrats will continue to listen to the self-employed, freelancers and agency workers and put forward their concerns so that people in a desperate financial situation get help as soon as possible, ensuring that no-one is left out.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

UK’s commitment to eradicate death penalty unlawfully undermined 

Responding to the Supreme Court judgment against the government in Elgizouli v Secretary of State for the Home Department, handed down today, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

“The UK has long had a proud commitment to eradicating the death penalty across the world. An important part of that is securing assurances that the death penalty will not be used when we help other countries prosecute criminals.

“It is shameful that this Conservative Government has undermined that commitment by unlawfully providing evidence to prosecutors in the US without even seeking death penalty assurances. We must not allow Conservative Ministers to compromise our values because of pressure from Donald Trump’s administration.

“The UK must oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and all countries. Liberal Democrats have been calling for an end to Ministers’ power to decide not to seek death penalty assurances, and today’s judgment makes clear why that is necessary.”

We must urgently put in place remote working for Parliament

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called on political parties and parliamentary authorities to work together to urgently put in place remote working for Parliament in response to the Covid-19 crisis. He said:

“It is right that Parliament physically closes to keep people safe, including parliamentary staff, but this cannot mean an end to scrutiny of the Government.

“The political parties and parliamentary authorities must now work together to urgently put in place remote working for parliament – so MPs can continue to represent our constituents, raise urgent issues with Ministers and hold the Government to account for its response to this crisis.

“Businesses of all sizes have found ways to keep going through video conferencing and other technology, so it cannot be beyond the wit of Parliament to do the same.

“Parliamentary scrutiny is more important than ever during a national emergency, especially given the emergency powers needed to keep people safe. Liberal Democrats will be carefully scrutinising the Government’s use of these powers to make sure they do not curtail individuals’ rights and freedoms any further than necessary.”

Turn day-one Universal Credit loans into grants immediately


Responding to reports that that the Government has refused to axe the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments despite an additional 500,000 claims in 9 days, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat with millions of families facing financial hardship. 

“There are therefore legitimate questions that the Prime Minister must answer over his Government’s failure to act more quickly and compassionately for the huge numbers of people now facing a sudden financial crisis.

"With more and more people needing to apply to universal credit, we must ensure all who are eligible and need support are getting it - and quickly.

“A five week wait has always been too slow and frankly unacceptable.

“That is why Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Government to turn day-one Universal Credit loans into grants immediately and guarantee anyone who is laid off receives at least 20 days of full pay, starting now.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Prison lock-down must be followed by rehabilitation investment

Responding to BBC reports that “prisoners in England and Wales will be confined to their cells for 23 hours a day and allowed out only to shower and use pay-phones, with all visits cancelled”, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“This is a regrettable but necessary measure to limit the spread of coronavirus in prisons and keep prison staff, prisoners and our communities safe.

“However, it must only be a temporary measure for the duration of this emergency. It is vital that the Government recognises the damage this will do to prisoners’ rehabilitation and the likelihood that it will lead to more reoffending. 

“Prisoners already spend too much time locked in their cells, unable to engage in productive activity or receive rehabilitative services. Reoffending rates are already far too high.

“When this crisis is over, the Government must focus on dramatically improving rehabilitation, both in prison and in the community, to stop reoffending and prevent people becoming victims of crime.”

Monday, March 23, 2020

Davey responds to Prime Minister's statement on coronavirus

Responding to the Prime Minister's statement on the UK's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said: 

“Many people will be anxious about the steps the government has taken, but it is the right decision to restrict our normal way of life to tackle this crisis.  

“We must do all we can to stop the spread of this virus and I urge people to play their part by following the measures that have been set out, and not risk their own or others' health and wellbeing by ignoring these.

“There are legitimate questions as to whether this step should have been taken sooner and how well the advice of experts is being communicated with the public. 

“The Liberal Democrats will continue to do all we can to support the most vulnerable in our communities, and work to try and secure more support for the self-employed, charities and others who still need more support from government in the coming months.”

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Transition period extension the right thing to do

Responding to the reports that EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has said the EU is open to a possible request to extend the Brexit transition period, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said: 

“With countries across Europe battling the coronavirus crisis, Commission President von der Leyen’s comments are welcome news.

“The UK government’s focus must be on tackling this pandemic and saving as many lives as possible.

“Extending the transition period would help reduce the burden and uncertainty on businesses, the economy, and most importantly our NHS and social care system.

“An extension is the right thing to do. Liberal Democrats will continue to urge Boris Johnson to secure one as a priority.”

Davey: More must be done to signal we care for all

Responding to the financial measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“The government’s actions today show just how threatening coronavirus is to our economy and our society. 

"Whilst the package for employees is welcome, Liberal Democrats are worried that far too little is being done for the self-employed, for those on zero hours’ contracts or for those on statutory sick pay and benefits. 

"The Chancellor should raise the level of statutory sick pay and extend it to the two million people earning less than £118 a week that are currently excluded. It is also vital that the charities and not for profit organisations who do so much to care for so many are not forgotten during this crisis.

“By guaranteeing 80% of income not just for workers but also the self-employed, boosting sick pay to £220 a week for everyone, and increasing out of work benefits, the government would in effect create a temporary Citizen's Income. This would send a strong signal that we care for everyone in our society.”

Friday, March 20, 2020

Legislation must give MPs a vote on emergency powers beyond a year

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called for Parliament to have a future vote on whether it is necessary for the Government to retain new emergency powers beyond a year. He said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk. People across the country are rightly worried about their loved ones.

“While emergency powers are clearly necessary to deal with this emergency, Liberal Democrats have serious concerns about Parliament handing over such far-reaching powers to Ministers for a full two years.

“That is why Liberal Democrats are seeking to ensure the legislation includes provision for Parliament to have a future vote on whether it is necessary for the Government to retain these powers beyond a year.”

Lib Dems call on Government to go further to protect renters

Responding to news that a law to block evictions will come into force in the coming days, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

"Millions of renters will be relieved to hear that legal protections will be put in place to block evictions for the next three months - but there needs to be clarity about what happens to anyone falling into arrears because of impact of the coronavirus after that.

"Thousands of families will face financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus. Measures like this are vital in providing certainty in the immediate term, but do not assist with actually paying the rent.

"The Government must make clear that it will extend these measures for as long as is necessary to enable people to get back on their feet in the aftermath of the immediate crisis.

"The Government should also take urgent action to prevent any customers being cut off by utilities companies in the coming weeks and months. As people's circumstances may change abruptly, radical action is required to ensure no one is unable to heat or light their home, or to access drinking water."

Lib Dems raise concern over migrants’ access to Covid-19 testing


The Liberal Democrats have called on government to guarantee that no data will be passed from the NHS to the Home Office during the coronavirus crisis for the sake of public health.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Wendy Chamberlain MP called on the Home Secretary to make sure that "no one who needs to be tested in relation to Covid 19, or indeed seek treatment, is put off by uncertainty over their immigration status".

After raising this issue in the Commons Wendy Chamberlain said: 

"Under the hostile environment, there is a real risk that people who find themselves gravely ill with Covid-19 will be too scared to seek treatment in case it leads to questions about their right to live in the UK. This fear risks putting people off going to hospital for testing, which in turn may lead to greater transmission in the wider community.

"The Home Secretary's failure to provide immediate clarity here is deeply troubling. This is purely about what is in the interest of public health, rather than any wider ideology about immigration.

"The government must urgently make clear that, regardless of your immigration status, if you are seriously ill, go to a hospital. That is the only way to effectively provide life-saving treatment to the most unwell, and to limit the prospect of people transmitting this virus to others."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

We must ensure the Windrush Scandal can never happen again

Responding to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, published today by the Home Office, Liberal Democrat Vice President Isabelle Parasram said:
“The Windrush Scandal laid bare the horrifying cruelty of the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment. People who have every right to live in the UK were wrongly denied access to NHS treatment, housing and other services simply because they don’t have the right documents to prove it. Many were wrongfully detained and even deported.
“The way the Government has treated the Windrush Generation – as well as other immigrants and people from BAME backgrounds – is shameful. It is the direct consequence of cruel, discriminatory policies and the toxic culture at the Home Office. Both of those must change.
“This Lessons Learned Review is long overdue, and reports that the Home Office has suppressed some of its criticisms and recommendations are very concerning. The Government owes it to the victims of the Windrush Scandal to ensure that nothing like it can happen again, and that cannot happen without a transparent and honest assessment of the Home Office’s policies and practices.
“Now that the report has finally been published, we need urgent action from the Home Secretary to dismantle the Hostile Environment altogether. That should begin with repealing the discriminatory ‘Right to Rent’ law, ending immigration checks and upfront charging in the NHS, and establishing a firewall to prevent public agencies – such as schools, the NHS and the police – from sharing personal information with the Home Office for the purposes of immigration enforcement.
“The Government must introduce compassion and common sense into our immigration system. That means making detention an absolute last resort, with a time limit and an end to the detention of vulnerable people. And it means ending automatic deportations – and stopping altogether the practice of deporting people who came to the UK as children to countries they have never known.
“Liberal Democrats celebrate those who choose to come to the UK to work, study or join their families for the enormous contributions they make to our society, our economy and our communities. We are fighting for a fair, effective immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Pre-pay meters: Lib Dems call for action

 Ed Davey, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has written to the government and the CEO of OFGEM, the energy regulator, to raise concerns about customers relying on prepaid electricity and gas meters.

The former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change outlined in his letter the risk that individuals living alone who rely on prepaid meters, will be left “unable to heat their homes, or forced to go out whilst unwell, jeopardising the health of others”.

Speaking on this issue Ed Davey said:

“Over 4 million UK households rely on prepaid electricity and gas meters. Of those, an untold number have no option to top up online. Instead they have to go in-store to buy additional credit to light and heat their home.

“Given the severity of the crisis we are now facing, and the vital need for people to take social distancing seriously, there is an imperative on government and on energy companies to ensure that customers are not held to ransom for bills they cannot realistically pay. No customer should face being cut off as a result of a situation that is way beyond their control.

“I am calling on Ministers and leaders in the sector to introduce whatever flexibility is needed to prevent any customers being cut off, and to ensure no one is left without heat or light in the face of this unprecedented pandemic. Government must step in to protect those who are vulnerable. It must take decisive action now.”

Davey responds to Chancellor's statement on novel coronavirus

Following the Chancellor's statement outlining financial support measures in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, Ed Davey, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has called for the the government to: 
  • guarantee that anyone who is laid off receives at least 20 days of full pay; 
  • provide full council tax relief for bands A to E for at least six months, with councils fully compensated for this loss of income;
  • turn day one universal credit loans into grants immediately; 
  • take action to ensure no renter is evicted in the coming months as a result of this crisis;
Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"We face an unprecedented threat, and we must utilise every available resource to protect people's livelihoods and support business at this extraordinary time. 

“The level of financial interventions proposed by government may prove commensurate with the gravity of the current crisis, but must be kept under review. 

"For now, we urge government to act rapidly to implement the measures outlined by the Chancellor to provide immediate relief to businesses already struggling, and to provide certainty for the coming weeks and months.

"However, the government must urgently provide more detail on measures it will take to support individuals facing hardship. 

"Liberal Democrats are calling for government to guarantee that anyone who is laid off receives at least 20 days of full pay, starting now. The government must provide full council tax relief for bands A to E for at least six months, with councils fully compensated for this loss of income. Government must turn day one universal credit loans into grants immediately, and must take action to ensure no renter is evicted in the coming months as a result of this crisis. 

"While we do not know what the future holds, we do know that we will be more resilient if we act together, with our local communities, to face this threat. Liberal Democrats will be asking detailed questions to make sure everyone gets the help they need as soon as possible."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Lib Dems: Brexit must be delayed to focus on novel coronavirus crisis

Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called on the Prime Minister to suspend Brexit talks and seek a delay to the transition period so that the government can focus efforts and resources on the developing Covid-19 crisis.

He said in the letter "this request is not about ... past debates. This request is designed to help you and the country navigate our way through the current crisis".

Ed Davey also called for Boris Johnson to ensure the UK is present at vital information sharing meetings with other EU leaders and health ministers. 

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:

"At a time of unprecedented strain on our NHS, our economy and millions of jobs across the country, the government must take immediate steps to limit the pressure and impact.

"Delaying the Brexit talks and the deadline for the end of the transition period is key to this. I am urging Boris Johnson to do the sensible thing and put Brexit on hold.

"We must focus whatever resources we have on stopping the spread of this virus and protecting the most vulnerable.

"Coordination with our closest neighbours will also be vital to tackling this virus. Johnson must ensure the UK is present in EU health ministers’ daily briefings as the situation continues to develop."

Davey calls for much greater financial support for individuals and businesses

Following the social distancing measures announced by the Prime Minister yesterday (16 March), Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey has called for the government to bring in "much, much more extensive support for individuals and for businesses at every single level". 

Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:  

"People are afraid for their health, but also for their livelihoods. The financial package the Chancellor is expected to announce today must include much, much more extensive support for individuals and for businesses at every single level and across every single region of the country. 

“The Government bailed out the banks and the financial sector with hundreds of billions back in 2008. The Government must now be there for millions of businesses, employees and the self-employed - Britain’s real economy.

"The Prime Minister was right to advise social distancing, but to do so without formally closing pubs, restaurants, theatres and so forth, he is undermining many firms’ insurance cover and writing these businesses into history. The Government’s current approach will prevent many businesses from claiming for any losses, which could lead to widespread collapse. 

"People want to know that - in the face of this extraordinary crisis - their livelihoods and businesses are secure. It is in the government's power to provide that certainty and the Liberal Democrats urge the Prime Minister to do so with immediate effect."

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Rising knife crime shows Tory approach has failed

Responding to new figures revealing that knife crime in England and Wales is at its highest level in a decade, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:
“Far too many lives – especially young lives – are being destroyed by the scourge of knife crime. It is heart-breaking.
“The Conservatives’ approach to knife crime has clearly failed. They have made reoffending worse by unnecessarily criminalising thousands of young people and locking them up on pointless short term sentences. And their surge in suspicion-less Stop and Search has undermined trust in the police.
“The Conservatives must stop these counterproductive policies. Instead of trying to seem tough on crime, they must focus on the things that actually make our communities safer.
“That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for more community policing, more youth services and a proper public health approach to serious violence.”

Lib Dems cancel Spring Conference

Following careful consideration of the latest health advice and risks, the Liberal Democrats have decided to cancel their Spring Conference this weekend.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said:

“In these highly unusual circumstances, we have come to the right conclusion to cancel conference.

“Although it will be disappointing to many members, the party can come together again when the coronavirus threat is over and debate the issues our country faces.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to put forward our case for a more liberal progressive Britain and hold this Conservative government to account.”

Frank Little, parliamentary spokesman for Aberavon, added:
"The Welsh Lib Dems conference at the following weekend must also now be in doubt, especially as Swansea was the site of one of the first Covid-19 infections in the UK. It is to be hoped that the Welsh party executive makes an early decision."

Update 2020-03-14: the Welsh spring conference has in fact now been cancelled.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Budget reveals weakness of the UK economy


Responding to the Budget, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“This Budget reveals the UK economy was alarmingly weak even before Covid-19. The Government is desperate to blame anyone or anything but the reality is that it’s the Conservatives’ Brexit which is costing Britain’s economy dearly.

“Whilst the Government is taking some action to deal with the corona virus, after five years of Tory governments the NHS and our social care sector are chronically under-funded, under-resourced and under-staffed, just at the moment we need them most. Nothing is being done to fill the care sector's staffing needs here and now.

“With COP26 around the corner this government has fundamentally failed to show any real global leadership on dealing with the climate emergency. Rather than create a green infrastructure plan for the future, Ministers have hidden their infrastructure strategy because it was not compliant with tackling the climate emergency and getting to net zero. The Tories are investing too much on roads and nowhere near enough money on electric cars, charging points and insulating homes."

Lib Dems lead debate calling for ring-fenced mental health funding for armed forces

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone will today lead a debate in Parliament where he will urge the Government to “make it easier for veterans and their families to access peer-led mental health support.”
The Highlands MP, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Defence, secured the Westminster Hall debate after winning cross-party support for his Bill which would require the Government to ringfence mental health spending for veterans and members of the armed forces.
The campaign led by the Liberal Democrats comes in response to cuts which have left mental health charities, such as Combat Stress, no longer able to take on new referrals in England.
On the day of the Budget, Mr Stone will use his debate to raise awareness about the increasing challenges faced by veterans trying to access mental health support. 
Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Defence spokesperson Jamie Stone said:
“Since introducing my Bill to Parliament, many veterans have been in touch to tell me that armed forces personnel need access to care provided by people who know how mental health impacts people who have served.
“Most of us will never be able to understand what our veterans have been through. That is why some of the best care available comes in the form of peer to peer support groups. However, Conservative cuts are making it harder for these services to exist, nevermind be set up. 
“It’s not rocket science. The Government should make it easier for veterans and their families to access peer-led mental health support. I therefore urge Ministers to get serious and back my Bill.”
Supporting Mr Stone’s campaign, Chief Executive of Combat Stress Sue Freeth, added:
“82% of the veterans treated by Combat Stress have tried to engage with NHS services but their needs have not been met. The government needs to ringfence funding for specialist services such as ours, that understand and can successfully treat those veterans with complex PTSD.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Appearing tough on crime has failed

Responding to reports that the Chancellor will use his Budget to spend £70 million on probation as part of the Government’s bid to make Britain’s streets safer, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“Too many people feel unsafe in their own homes and walking down their own streets. The criminal justice system is failing to rehabilitate people, leading to more crimes and more victims.

“For far too long, the Conservatives have been so desperate to appear tough on crime that they have failed to properly invest in the things that help people build lives free from crime.

“The Government does need to invest in probation and improve the supervision of people released on licence. But it also needs to invest in rehabilitative services, both in prison and in the community, to enable people who have committed crimes to turn their lives around.”

Friday, March 06, 2020

Billions have been thrown away in a bid to paper over the Tories' Brexit mess

Responding to a National Audit Office (NAO) report which found that by 31 January 2020 departments had spent at least £4.4 billion of the £6.3 billion allocated for Brexit preparations, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

"Billions of pounds have been thrown away in a bid to paper over the Tories' Brexit mess. The public have a right to know where it is all going. In the face of major floods and the covid-19 threat, we have to ask if the Government knows its own spending priorities.

"Thanks to the Prime Minister's self-imposed and self-defeating deadline we are facing a crunch, with serious challenges in multiple directions. Our country deserves better leadership than this.

“Not only must a no-deal Brexit be taken off the table, but Ministers in charge of Brexit preparations must come clean on what they have been doing with billions of pounds of public money."

PM must hold inquiry into Islamophobia in Tory party

Responding to reports that the Muslim Council of Britain  has called for an Islamophobia inquiry in the Conservative party, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“Islamophobia is a scourge in our society, and over recent years both incidents of Islamophobia and hate crimes in general have got worse. Yet instead of showing leadership on the issue the PM has stayed silent.

“During the leadership contest Boris Johnson said that the Conservatives would undertake an independent inquiry into Islamophobia. He’s gone very quiet on the idea as PM.

“The Conservatives must have a full independent inquiry into Islamophobia and ensure it is rooted out of their party and the country.”