Thursday, December 05, 2019

Javid in fantasy land on trade deal negotiations

Responding to Sajid Javid's claim on Radio 4 that he is “confident" of securing a trade deal with the EU by December 2020, Chuka Umunna, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary said:

"Who does Sajid Javid think he's kidding?

"He's either incompetent or dishonest to pretend that the Tories could achieve a Canadian style EU trade deal by December 2020. That deal took seven years to negotiate; only a fantasist would think it's possible to do it in less than a year.

"This is just another leave lie from a government that has already wasted three years failing to secure support in Parliament for step one: a Withdrawal Agreement. 

"We might start from a position of convergence, but the purpose of Brexit is to diverge. Let's not pretend it will be easy. The Tories are willing to risk crashing out of the EU with no deal at the end of December 2020, in full knowledge of the immeasurable harm this will do to our family of nations.

"Only the Liberal Democrats have a plan to stop the Brexit chaos and build a brighter future for the UK." 

Liberal Democrats launch Plan for Business including £17bn research fund

Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Secretary Sam Gyimah will today give a major speech to business leaders in London to launch the party's plan for businesses.

Brexit: Leak shows that Boris Johnson is misleading voters

Responding to leaked internal EU documents signalling more years of Brexit talks from the day after the general election, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake, said:

“This document confirms that even if the Conservatives win a majority, Brexit would continue to drag on for years to come.  Yet again, Boris Johnson is misleading voters with his pledge to ‘get Brexit done.’

“There would also be a new no-deal ‘cliff edge’ date at the end of next year, and yesterday Dominic Raab confirmed that a Conservative Government would be prepared to step off of it. This would be disastrous for our businesses and public services. 

“The best deal is the one we currently have as members of the European Union. The more Lib Dem MPs elected into the next Parliament, the better our chances of securing a People’s Vote and stopping Brexit altogether.”

Lib Dems to create binding Student Mental Health Charter

Yesterday (4th December), the Liberal Democrats pledged their commitment to transform mental health services in the UK by creating a binding Student Mental Health Charter. This will require all universities to guarantee access to high quality mental health services for their students.

This is part of the Liberal Democrats' plan to prioritise everyone’s mental health, including the commitment to invest £11 billion in transforming mental health services, more than either Labour or the Tories.

A recent freedom of information revealed that many universities do not record fundamental data, such as their budgets or waiting times.

The Mental Health Charter would put in law a guarantee for universities to ensure a good level of mental health provision, including the commitment for universities to publish data on their university waiting times, as well as a maximum wait for access to counselling and support.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, Luciana Berger said: 

"Mental illness can blight the lives and futures of our young people. Too many are struggling with their mental health and aren't receiving the support they need.

"It is incumbent on our universities to fulfil their duty of care to their students. For many young people going to university, this will be the first time they are living away from home.

"This, coupled with the fact that many universities do not record vital information such as their spend on mental health support or waiting times, means that we are in the middle of a student mental health crisis.

"The Liberal Democrats believe universities should be bound by law to meet the mental health needs of their students. That is why would work with students, universities and mental health charities to ensure that we fix the fundamental failures of current mental health provision for people in higher education."

    Tory and Labour migration plans would deepen NHS staffing crisis

    New figures from the Nuffield Trust show that people born outside the UK account for almost a quarter of all staff working in hospitals and a fifth of all health and social care staff in the UK.

    The report criticises both the Conservative and Labour Party’s plans to end the free movement of people from the EU, warning this will worsen current staffing shortages in the NHS and social care.

    Commenting on these figures, Liberal Democrat spokesperson, Dr Sarah Wollaston said: 

    "Half of the health and social care workforce who have joined in the last 10 years were born outside the UK. That's over two hundred thousand additional people looking after our loved ones and keeping us healthy.

    "Both Labour and Conservatives are putting our NHS and the social care sector at risk through their commitment to Brexit.

    “By introducing a nurse tax on NHS staff from the EU, Tory plans would put anti-immigrant ideology ahead of the health and safety of patients and the well-being of the country.

    "Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting to stop Brexit, which will cause untold damage to our NHS.  We will introduce an NHS recruitment strategy to tackle workforce shortages and invest £7 billion a year investment in health and social care." 
    The Tory and Labour proposals would affect health services in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the devolved administrations would be powerless to prevent them

    Tuesday, December 03, 2019

    Labour's old fashioned approach would destroy jobs

    Responding to the publication of Labour's work manifesto, Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Secretary, Sam Gyimah said:

    “If you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules, you should have a secure job with proper rights and fair pay. But employment rights and protections haven’t kept up with new technology and economic changes.

    “Labour and the Conservatives are too backward-looking to grapple with these issues. The Tories have not done enough to support workers as they are sucked into insecure, poorly paid jobs. Labour’s ideological and old-fashioned approach to work would destroy the flexible jobs that people value and harm the economy. 

    “Across Europe countries are making changes to their laws to meet the needs of the new economy, but both Labour and the Conservatives are too obsessed with Brexit to give time to these issues. Stopping Brexit will mean the UK can focus on reforming our own labour laws to meet these new challenges.

    “Only the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and build a brighter future, where both workers’ rights are protected and innovative businesses are able to flourish and create new jobs. We are the party of responsible business.”

    Raab admits no-deal Brexit is still on the table

    When asked on the Today Programme this morning whether the government is still prepared to crash out of the EU with no deal in 2020, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said "yes absolutely." 

    Responding, Shadow Liberal Democrat Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

    "Dominic Raab has been forced to admit the Tories' dirty secret: a no-deal Brexit is still on the table. 

    "Boris Johnson's extreme Brexit plan would lead to us crashing out of the EU by the end of 2020, egged on by Donald Trump who wants to exploit a weakened UK.

    "People deserve better. It's not too late to stop the damage to our economy, NHS and public finances from a Johnson Trump Brexit.

    "This election is a chance to stop Boris, stop Brexit, and build a brighter future."

    Trump NHS comments should be taken with a "lorry load of salt"

    Responding to comments by President Donald Trump this morning denying the NHS will be on the table in future trade talks, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna said:

    "Like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump is hardly known for his honesty. Voters will rightly take these comments with a lorry load of salt.

    "Trump has repeatedly made clear in the past that everything including the NHS will be on the table in future negotiations.

    "If Boris Johnson wins a majority he'll be so desperate for a trade deal with Donald Trump that he'll become his poodle. Johnson can't be trusted with our health service, our medicines or our food standards, all of which would be at risk after Brexit. 

    "Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting for the UK to remain in the EU so we can stand up to Trump, protect the NHS and build a brighter future."

    Monday, December 02, 2019

    Disability pay gap just another inequality ignored by Tories


    Responding to data released from an ONS report revealing that disabled employees are paid 12.2% less than their non-disabled peersLiberal Democrat President Baroness Sal Brinton, said:
    "It is shameful that this pay gap exists in 2019. All employers must do more to ensure that they are inclusive.
    "The Conservatives have utterly failed to put equality at the heart of government and as such have failed to address this injustice.
    "Liberal Democrats are proud to have rolled out gender pay gap reporting in government, but we still have so far to go in the fight for equality.
    "That is why Liberal Democrats will extend the Equality Act to all large companies, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps."

    Swinson: Nigel Farage is going to discover that I am not always perfectly pleasant

    Image result for Swinson boxing imageResponding to Nigel Farage's comment at a Brexit Party rally today that "I don't want that Swinson girl anywhere near power, perfectly pleasant though she is", Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

    ”Nigel Farage is going to discover that I am not always perfectly pleasant.

    “Farage has stood for Parliament seven times and every single time, the voters have rejected his toxic brand of chauvinistic, far-right nationalism. He knows he is not going to get anywhere nearer to power this election and is so scared that he hasn’t even bothered standing. He is lashing out at the real threat to his Tory-Brexit Party electoral pact: the girly swot leading the UK’s strongest remain party.

    “The Liberal Democrats want to stop Brexit and build a brighter future, where everybody’s rights are respected and society is fair and diverse.”
    [thanks to for the image]

    Tory border plans would mean more red tape and bureaucracy

    Responding to Johnson's proposals to introduce an American-style visa waiver scheme after Brexit, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

    "Johnson's lies to the public continue at pace. Far from making us safer, Brexit will mean the loss of access to vital databases that we use to track criminals who attempt to enter the UK and to extradite serious offenders.

    "These plans will mean more bureaucracy, more red tape and - because the EU will implement a mirrored system for the British public - fees for anyone travelling to the EU for their holiday. 

    "The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and build a brighter future, by protecting free movement and vital police cooperation with our European neighbours."

    11,000 academics quit UK in three years in “Brexit brain drain”

    • Almost 11,000 EU academics quit UK in three years since Brexit
    • Over 4,000 EU academics have left in 2018/19, up 31% compared to 2015/16
    • Lib Dems warn of “Brexit brain drain”
    Almost 11,000 EU academics have quit the UK in the three years since the Brexit vote, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

    The analysis, based on Freedom of Information responses from 81 universities, shows that 4,014 EU academics have left UK universities in 2018/19. This is a 31% increase on the 3,051 EU academics who quit in 2015/16, the academic year before the Brexit vote.

    Some of the universities with the largest number of EU academics leaving since the Brexit vote include Oxford (1,515), Edinburgh (1,271) and Cambridge (1,292).

    The Liberal Democrats said the figures reveal that uncertainty over freedom of movement and international research funding is leading to a “Brexit brain drain.”

    Academics face uncertainty over both their immigration status and their funding following Brexit, meaning the UK risks becoming less competitive in attracting global talent. Previous analysis by the Royal Society has shown that the UK’s share of total EU research funding has already fallen from 15.8 per cent (€1.49bn) in 2015 to 11.3 per cent (€1.06bn) in 2018

    The findings are also consistent with recent research by the higher education industry body Universities UK which reported that 60% of universities surveyed believed they had lost existing or potential staff members to overseas institutions because of Brexit.

    Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran said:

    “It is a deeply concerning that Brexit has already driven so many talented academics to abandon the UK.

    “Our universities are being threatened by a Brexit brain drain, exacerbated by Boris Johnson’s reckless promise to crash us out of the EU by 2020 no matter the cost.

    “This is sadly not surprising given the Tory party has adopted the xenophobic rhetoric of Nigel Farage, making our colleagues, friends and family from the EU feel unwelcome.

    “It’s not too late to turn the tide and prevent Boris Johnson imposing his divisive Brexit plans on the country. The Liberal Democrats can still stop Boris, stop Brexit, and protect our 
    world-leading higher education sector.”