Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lib Dems take action to guarantee EU citizens' rights


In the House of Commons tomorrow [Wednesday 26th February], Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine will present a Private Members’ Bill to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK.
 
The European Citizens’ Rights Bill would give all EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit the automatic right to stay, without having to apply to the Home Office’s Settled Status scheme.
 
The Liberal Democrats pointed out that Boris Johnson has repeatedly promised that EU citizens would automatically be granted the right to stay, but failed to deliver on that promise. Instead, EU citizens have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by the end of June 2021, and only 1.6 million of the 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK have been granted Settled Status so far.
 
The Bill would also require the government to provide EU citizens with physical proof of their rights, rather than forcing them to rely on a digital code. EU citizens have raised concerns that the current system will leave them without a physical way to prove their immigration status, and that a lack of documents will lead to discrimination.
 
Ahead of the presentation of her Bill, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
 
"EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long. They are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They deserve assurance that they can stay.
 
"Boris Johnson and the Conservatives promised to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay, but they have broken that promise.
 
"No one seriously believes that the Home Office will be able to grant settled status to everyone who’s eligible by June next year. Thousands will be left effectively undocumented and subject to the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment – at risk of eviction, detention and even deportation.
 
"Liberal Democrats are fighting for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, without the need to apply. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal."

Also ahead of the presentation of the Bill, Maike Bohn, Co-founder of the3million, said:

"The last three years have seen seismic changes for EU citizens living in the UK that threaten to push hundreds of thousands of people into abject misery if they don’t apply for settled status by the deadline. 

"The UK government will never know whether it has reached every EU citizen in the country and it has a duty of care to ensure that everyone gets the status they deserve, now and in future.
 
"The current digital-only application system is dangerous. If we don’t convert it into a simple registration for rights guaranteed in law, as this bill suggests, people who have made their home in the UK for years, for their entire lives in some cases, will suddenly face the inhumane reality of the British immigration system: unable to rent, open a bank account, access healthcare or jobs."

PM urged to support new Bill to give Hong Kong citizens the right to live in the UK

The Liberal Democrats will today present a Bill with cross-party support which would require the Government offer Hong Kong citizens the right to live in the UK.
 
The move by the Liberal Democrats, whose former leader Paddy Ashdown led the argument for securing the right of abode if China ever reneged the Sino-British declaration, comes after a year of clashes and violence between the police and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
 
Speaking ahead of presenting the Bill, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael warned “If there ever were a time for us to act in support of Hong Kong, it is now.”
 
The Bill, which has cross-party support, would re-open the offer of a British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the “right of abode”, allowing a person to live or work indefinitely in the UK.
 
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:
 
“If there ever were a time for us to act in support of Hong Kong, it is now. China has repeatedly undermined Hong Kong’s democracy. There have been repeated reports of police brutality against Hong Kong citizens since the start of protests last spring. 

“Boris Johnson’s slogan of ‘Global Britain’ is meaningless if his Government is timid in the area of international human rights. 

“We must make our voice heard on essential values such as the rule of law and liberal democracy. If the Conservative Government intends to give substance to its global rhetoric, it should put its weight behind the Bill.”
 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Tories dropping promises in desperation for a Trump trade deal

Responding to the Environment Secretary failing to offer a commitment on the Sophy Ridge show yesterday that the import of chlorinated chicken will be off the table in any trade deal with the US, Liberal Democrat Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson Tim Farron said:

“Farming communities up and down the country are rightly concerned about being undercut by low-standard imports from the US.

“With the Tories’ desperation for a trade deal with Donald Trump, it would appear they are rolling back on their promises. They are wilfully threatening British consumers and farmers.

“The Liberal Democrats will stand shoulder to shoulder with British farmers and consumers and stop Boris Johnson ramming through a damaging Trump trade deal.”

Friday, February 21, 2020

Johnson and Cummings have ignored the economy

Responding to ONS figures today that show the UK posted a budget surplus of £9.8bn in January, down 18% compared to the same time last year, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

"Rishi Sunak is now under even greater pressure to deliver a budget that works for all people.

"Under Johnson the economy has been an afterthought. 2019 ended with a quarter of no growth, falling manufacturing output and declining business investment. Now just weeks before the budget even the fiscal picture is in question.

"The Chancellor must prove that he can do more than just please Number 10. He must deliver for workers, businesses and the environment while making the sums add up. The Liberal Democrats will hold his budget to account and offer an alternative economic vision for a more prosperous UK."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Davey: Govt must act on zero hour contracts

 

Responding to an Office for National Statistics report for February 2020 which estimates that a record 974,000 people are in employment on “zero-hour contracts” in their main job, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

"With more people than ever before depending on low-paid, irregular work to make ends meet, the Conservatives have no right to celebrate today’s employment figures.

"Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in jobs that are badly paid, don’t offer career advancement, and take a toll on people’s wellbeing. Yet Boris Johnson keeps hiding behind high employment figures, refusing to address the problem and its impact on overall wage growth.

"The UK doesn’t simply need more jobs, it needs better jobs. The Liberal Democrats will keep holding this Conservative Government to account and fight for a better future for all employees."

Tory Party's immigration proposals based on xenophobia


Responding to the Government's proposed changes to migration rules, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“Too many businesses are already struggling to hire the workers they need. Now the Tories want to stop them recruiting all but the highest paid employees from abroad.
 
“The Conservative Government's immigration proposals are based on xenophobia, not the social and economic needs of our country. Ten months is nowhere near enough time for either employers or the Home Office to get ready for these new rules, creating chaos and confusion.
 
“Liberal Democrats will oppose these destructive policies and continue our fight for a fair, effective immigration system that works for our economy and treats everyone with dignity and respect.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Prime Minister still has serious questions to answer over Sabisky

 

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has warned the Prime Minister that “serious questions remain” over the recruitment of Andrew Sabisky by Dominic Cummings and called for the Prime Minister to "condemn the offensive comments" and "curb Dominic Cummings' power to appoint and sack at will.”
 
The warning comes amidst Downing Street’s continued refusal to say whether Boris Johnson agrees with Andrew Sabisky who suggested black people were mentally inferior and advocated compulsory contraception to prevent a "permanent underclass".
 
Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:
 
“The Prime Minister should never have allowed Dominic Cummings to recruit someone with such extreme and offensive views. Serious questions remain as to why due diligence was not followed in the recruitment of someone clearly so unfit to be in such a position.
 
“The Prime Minister must now make crystal clear why he signed off on this appointment, condemn the offensive comments expressed by Mr Sabisky and curb Dominic Cummings' power to appoint and sack at will.”

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tory immigration plans a recipe for disaster


Responding to reports that the Conservative Cabinet has agreed to implement a new points-based immigration system on 1 January next year, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“These Conservative plans to impose an entirely new immigration system in less than 11 months, without any proper consultation, are a recipe for disaster.

“There simply isn’t enough time for employers or the Home Office to prepare for the mountain of extra bureaucracy. It will be chaos.

“And when Boris Johnson talks about ending ‘low-skilled’ immigration, he is really saying there will be fewer people to build our homes, care for our elderly, farm our food or work in our hotels. That will be terrible for those industries and bad for British jobs.

“Liberal Democrats welcome people who choose to come to the UK to work. They make enormous contributions to our society, our economy and our communities.

“Instead of chasing headlines with their unworkable plans, the Government must focus on building a fair immigration system that works for our economy and treats everyone with dignity and respect.”

Local Liberal Democrats select Neath candidate

Sheila Kingston-Jones

Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Neath 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Number Ten power grab leaves reshuffle in tatters


Responding to the news that the Chancellor has resigned his position a month before the Budget is set to be delivered, Liberal Democrat acting Leader Ed Davey said: 

“Boris Johnson’s reshuffle is in tatters. He has lost his Chancellor a mere month from the budget.

“Like every crisis at Number Ten you can see Dominic Cummings lurking in the background. This is the Conservatives' own unelected bureaucrat, unaccountable to the public attempting to control every part of Government.

“The Liberal Democrats will continue oppose this woeful Tory government and offer real solutions to the deep challenges and injustices our country faces.”

Braverman as Attorney General is assault on rule of law


The Liberal Democrats have labelled Suella Braverman as “unfit to serve as Attorney General”, after Boris Johnson appointed her to the post.

Pointing to Braverman’s past comments about the role of the courts and human rights, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper described her appointment as “the latest shocking step in Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law.”

Braverman has recently argued that “the concept of ‘fundamental’ human rights has been stretched beyond recognition” and that “the explosion of judicial review and judicial activism has led to a censoriousness and litigiousness in our society”.

Responding to the appointment, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“The appointment of someone who is intent on weakening our courts as the Government’s chief legal adviser is the latest shocking step in Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law.

“Like Johnson and Cummings, Suella Braverman clearly believes that Tory Ministers should be above the law. That makes her unfit to serve as Attorney General.

“Liberal Democrats will not allow this dangerous, authoritarian Conservative Government to undermine the rule of law and erode individual rights and freedoms.”

The Liberal Democrats have labelled Suella Braverman as “unfit to serve as Attorney General”, after Boris Johnson appointed her to the post.

Pointing to Braverman’s past comments about the role of the courts and human rights, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper described her appointment as “the latest shocking step in Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law.”

Braverman has recently argued that “the concept of ‘fundamental’ human rights has been stretched beyond recognition” and that “the explosion of judicial review and judicial activism has led to a censoriousness and litigiousness in our society”.

Responding to the appointment, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“The appointment of someone who is intent on weakening our courts as the Government’s chief legal adviser is the latest shocking step in Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law.

“Like Johnson and Cummings, Suella Braverman clearly believes that Tory Ministers should be above the law. That makes her unfit to serve as Attorney General.

“Liberal Democrats will not allow this dangerous, authoritarian Conservative Government to undermine the rule of law and erode individual rights and freedoms.”

Sharma must take immediate action to fix COP in crisis


Responding to the news that Boris Johnson has appointed Alok Sharma as Business Secretary and the new COP26 President, Ed Davey, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:
 
“The climate emergency is the biggest issue facing the world today and the UK has a responsibility to lead the world in reaching net-zero emissions.
 
“The Government's running of COP26 has so far been a shambles. They sacked Claire O’Neill as COP President, only to have both David Cameron and William Hague decline the job.

“That is why Liberal Democrats are calling for a COP oversight committee to scrutinise the preparations and outcomes of COP26, led by NGOs and charities. The Tories have shown they are simply not up to the job.
 
“COP26 could be the last opportunity to persuade the world to take the action we need. The Prime Minister cannot waste this chance."

Women marginalised in Johnson reshuffle


Responding to Boris Johnson’s decision to reduce the number of women in Cabinet from seven to six, out of a total of 22, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Women and Equalities Christine Jardine said:

“It’s almost unbelievable that Boris Johnson has managed to find a way to make his Cabinet even more male-dominated. It shows just how little Johnson cares about gender equality and fails to ease concerns that women will continue to be marginalised by the Tories. 

“Unlike Johnson’s Tories, Liberal Democrats will continue our fight to tackle institutional biases and build a more equal society.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

HS2 must be part of a bolder rail revolution


Responding to the news that the government will go ahead with the HS2 project, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“There are huge questions about how the Conservatives have mismanaged HS2 so badly, but the climate case for expanding Britain’s railways remains a strong one.

“Yet HS2 alone won’t unite the country, bring economic benefits to the Midlands and North or cut the demand for domestic flights to help our climate unless it’s part of a bolder rail revolution. 

“Above all, we must improve railway links east to west, with train lines that don’t always have London as their destination."

Tory attacks are designed to allow government to act with impunity

  

Responding to reports that Dominic Cummings has attacked judicial review as a “farce”, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“Dominic Cummings seems to believe that he, Boris Johnson and Tory Ministers are above the law. They are not.

“When Ministers act outside of the bounds of the law, people must be able to hold them to account in the courts.

“These Tory attacks on our courts, judicial review and the Human Rights Act are all designed to weaken ordinary people and enable Ministers to act with impunity. They are the actions of despots, not democrats. 

“The rule of law is fundamental to a functioning democracy, and Liberal Democrats will not stand by and watch as Johnson and Cummings try to undermine it.”

Friday, February 07, 2020

Tory government must respect rights of grieving children


Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called on Boris Johnson to extend benefits for bereaved families to the children of a cohabiting couple when a parent dies, after the High Court ruled that the current law breaches those children’s human rights.
 
Ed Davey congratulated campaigners on their victory, in which Mr Justice Holman ruled that it was a breach of the Human Rights Act that the higher rate of Bereavement Support Payment is paid to families with children when a spouse or civil partner dies, but not to the children of a surviving cohabiting parent.
 
It follows a similar ruling by the Supreme Court in 2018 which ruled that Widowed Parent’s Allowance was in breach of the Human Rights Act for the same reason - a ruling the Government have to date failed to implement.
 
Ed Davey - a long time campaigner for bereaved families - called on the Government to make bereavement benefits available immediately to the bereaved children from a cohabiting relationship, and extend support for all bereaved families from 18 months to six years.
 
Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:
 
“Children who have already suffered the tragedy of losing a parent should not suffer a second time just because their parents were not married.
 
“So I am delighted the courts have again ruled that the Government was wrong to refuse this support to these children. It is time that the Prime Minister abided by the rule of law, and ensured that these bereaved families are properly cared for. 
 
“I want to congratulate all the campaigners who have worked so hard to get this ruling. 
 
“Liberal Democrats will fight to change the law and defend the human rights of these children despite this Conservative Prime Minister’s obvious disrespect for the rule of law, judicial review and human rights.
 
 “Liberal Democrats will also fight to extend Bereavement Support Payment from the current miserly 18 months to six years, so that children and families get the support they need as they recover from the tragedy of losing a partner and a parent.”

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Tories must act urgently to tackle poverty

 

Responding to research from the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation showing that 56% of people in poverty are in a working family, and that poverty has risen for children and pensioners over the last five years, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

“The Conservatives can no longer hide behind low unemployment figures when it comes to poverty. Millions of people are trapped in bad jobs with insufficient hours and wages to make a decent living. And unnecessary welfare cuts have plunged more children and pensioners into poverty. This is unacceptable.

“People are tired of the Government’s excuses. The upcoming budget must introduce concrete measures to create good-quality jobs, mend the social safety-net and reduce the cost of housing. The Liberal Democrats will always stand up for a more equal and prosperous society.”

Thousands of EU children stuck in legal limbo


The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative Government of “callously inflicting uncertainty” on children of EU citizens, as official figures reveal that tens of thousands of them still have not been granted the permanent right to stay.

The Home Office has received 386,570 applications to the EU Settlement Scheme from under-18s, but has only granted permanent Settled Status to 199,260.

Another 116,620 children were granted pre-settled status, which only gives the temporary right to stay in the UK for up to 5 years, while 69,610 are still waiting for a final decision to be made.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“The way this Conservative Government is treating EU citizens in our country is shameful. They are callously inflicting uncertainty on thousands of children – many of whom were born and brought up here.

“Boris Johnson has reneged on his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK. Thousands will inevitably end up effectively undocumented, creating another Windrush-style scandal.

“Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU. Ministers must listen and end the cruel uncertainty for these families.”
 

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Tories undermining the BBC and putting programming at risk


Responding to the Government’s launch of a public consultation on whether failure to pay the TV licence fee should no longer be a criminal offence, Liberal Democrat Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:
 
“The BBC, like the NHS, is a national treasure and this is a blatant attempt to kill it off. 

“These proposed changes – which could deprive the BBC of more than £200 million – would put at risk the BBC’s investment in our homegrown British talent, and leave TV content at the mercy of US corporates. 

“Those who do pay will resent free-loaders. Vulnerable people who can’t afford to pay will be put at the mercy of bailiffs and bad credit scores.

“Liberal Democrats will fight to protect the BBC and stand up to this Conservative Government’s growing threat to independent journalism.”

Tories facing £12 billion Brexit black hole


Responding to reports that the govt is a facing £12bilion Brexit black hole in three years according to Financial Times analysis of Bank of England forecasting, Liberal Democrat acting leader Ed Davey said:

“Boris Johnson is not fit to run the UK’s economy.

“This grim forecast for the nation’s coffers is a warning that his plan to hollow out our vital trading relationships with Europe is nothing short of reckless.

“Johnson’s Brexit is taking Britain’s public finances to the brink. He must halt his charge to a No Deal or Hard Brexit and guarantee instead the closest trading relationship possible with the EU. Otherwise there’ll be no money in the future for the NHS, schools and police.”

Monday, February 03, 2020

Johnson plan is "no deal" in all but name - Davey


Responding to Boris Johnson's speech outlining his position on trade negotiations with the EU, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

“Paying lip-service to free trade after taking us out of the largest free trade zone in the world is nothing short of hypocrisy.

“All it shows is that Johnson is happy to jeopardise our trade with the EU for political gain. Refusing to practically commit to a level playing field is simply not a serious negotiating strategy.

“Boris is gearing up for no-deal masqueraded as an Australian-style agreement, that will hollow out our trade. The Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose his dangerous plans and fight to maintain our most important trading relationship."