Thursday, August 31, 2017

Police treated disgracefully under May - Paddick

A recent Police Federation survey has found that police feel "undervalued and underpaid". Commenting Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs and former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service, said:

“Under Theresa May's leadership at the Home Office, the police were treated disgracefully, with their pay and pensions decimated and their numbers reduced to the level where they are struggling to cope. There has been no change since she became Prime Minister.

"The stance of people in authority, and who can forget Theresa May's vicious attacks at successive Police Federation conferences, influences public attitudes, which is why, at least in part, we are seeing increases in violent attacks on the police and officers treated with contempt on our streets.

"It's time for a sea-change, back to the time when politicians rightly held the police in high-esteem, unmoved by the misconduct of a tiny minority of officers in a small number of isolated cases.

"The overwhelming majority of police officers are dedicated to public service, put their lives on the line for us every day and they deserve to be treated with respect by the public and politicians alike.

"We must see an end to the public sector pay cap, an increase in police budgets and a review of the police pension reforms for those who have served for more than five years."

Hague is blaming voters for Govt's shambolic Brexit approach

The Liberal Democrats have accused William Hague of blaming voters for the government's own failings on Brexit, after he claimed Britain will get a worse deal as a result of the election.

It comes as European Parliament Brexit Negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said the "slow progress" of Brexit talks means the EU is unlikely to be ready to open discussions about a future trade deal.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“William Hague is attempting to blame voters for the government’s shambolic handling of the Brexit negotiations.

“From the beginning Theresa May has decided to pursue the most extreme and damaging form of Brexit. The real impact of the election is that these divisive plans have been thrown into doubt.

"The government must now accept the election result and agree to soften its approach.

“Each day brings us closer to a dangerous cliff-edge Brexit, but as the clock is ticking ministers are still twiddling their thumbs.

“It's time for the Conservatives to finally admit that the best way to protect the economy and living standards is to stay in the single market and customs union."

Cable appoints Harvey as interim chief exec

The Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that former defence minister Sir Nick Harvey is to take on the role of interim chief executive of the party. This follows the departure of Tim Gordon after over five years in the post.

Nick Harvey, former MP for North Devon, said:

“I am greatly looking forward to supporting Vince Cable as our new Leader, and hope that working closely together we can further revive Lib Dem fortunes.  The party has shown great resilience.  Now we have a real opportunity to begin the process of moving forwards again.

“British politics has never been in greater need of the Liberal Democrats. There is a major gap which only we can fill, not least on Brexit. This could have a dramatic impact on people’s jobs, the health and care system they depend on, and the schools and colleges which enable everyone to succeed in life.

“We must boldly promote our liberal values, at home but also with partners abroad – not fighting them, but working to find international solutions to global security and environmental challenges.

“The party has many talented, experienced and innovative people, as well as legions of new members.  Together we can get things going again.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“Nick has a vast amount of experience in parliament and government, as well as in management in the private sector. It is a coup to have someone of his ability to run the party machine at a time of exciting opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.”

Party president Baroness Sal Brinton said:

“Nick takes the helm with our membership at record levels, an increase in MPs, a string of council by-election gains and fundraising working well. It is great to have his steady hand on the tiller as the Liberal Democrats chart the next leg of our journey.  We will advertise in due course to fill the role permanently.”

Note to editors:

Nick Harvey has a vast amount of experience in politics, business and the charitable sector.

Nick comes from a City background, having been an account director at Dewe Rogerson, and worked at Profile PR and Westminster Consortium. He will take up his new role next week on the back of recent experience at Global Partners, where he was an adviser on Egypt and Jordan. He has also been seeking to widen access to the law as chair of Lawthority, while also chairing the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (a role he will step back from while serving as interim chief executive).

He was a campaigning and dedicated constituency MP for North Devon for 22 years. During this time (1992-2015) he served on the House of Commons Commission where he drove through reforms to modernise how parliament works. He was chair of campaigns for the Liberal Democrats in the late 1990s, including for the breakthrough 1997 election.

As Minister of State at Defence he chaired a board with a budget of £38bn.

Through his career, he has developed skills in PR, human resources and management in which he has an outstanding record for delivering change.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review of fire safety rules is long overdue

The government has announced the terms of reference for its review into building regulations and fire safety, commissioned following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

An interim report will be submitted in the autumn with a final report due in spring 2018.

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Spokesperson, commented:

"This review of building regulations is long overdue.

"The current fire safety rules have been shown to be utterly outdated and inadequate, leading to tragic consequences.

"The fact highly flammable material was approved for use on high-rise blocks across the country shows just how flawed the current system is.

"These loopholes must be fixed as soon as possible to prevent further tragedies like Grenfell from taking place.

"There must also be clear accountability and tough sanctions for those who break the rules."

"Leave Fox in a room with a photocopier" - Cable

Following reports that ministers are now seeking a "cut and paste Brexit", whereby Britain would simply have the same trade deals with other countries as we currently enjoy from inside the EU, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said that the government's Brexit strategy now "defies all logic".

Vince Cable said:

"Brexiteers promised a new dawn of improved trade deals across the world. But rather than jet-setting round the globe, Liam Fox might as well be left in a room with a photocopier.

"The government's Brexit strategy now defies all logic. It is not even asking Japan for a bespoke trade deal. India has already told us they won't give us one. The government should not be surprised if China says the same.

"Far from bagging lots of new trade deals, the government is simply trying to cut and paste our existing arrangements. Its Brexit strategy has just reached new levels of absurdity.

"The Institute for Government estimates that the civil service bill for negotiating Brexit is £65m a year. But if ministers are simply trying to cling on to what we have already, it raises the question, why leave the European Union?"

Govt seeking EU-style trade deal with Japan absurd - Cable

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said that Theresa May's visit to Japan has descended into farce before it has even begun. This was after the government briefed that a post-Brexit Britain would seek a trade deal with Japan based on the existing EU-Japan deal.

Vince Cable said:

"Theresa May's trip to Japan to gain a trade deal was already of questionable value because there can be no fresh agreements with other countries until we leave the EU.

"But this staggering statement by the government just adds a whole new level of absurdity to their negotiating strategy. It is now saying that the best trade deal we can possibly hope for with Japan post-Brexit is the trade deal we already have as a member of the EU.

"The likes of Liam Fox were promising a new dawn of improved trade deals but this clearly shows that even the government now recognises that the best possible deal we can get with one of the world's largest economies is the deal negotiated by the EU.

"The government is set on leaving the single market and customs union without the faintest idea of what our future trading relationships would be in a post Brexit-world, except that there will be more red tape.

“The government, realising it won't land a bespoke deal with Japan in advance of Brexit, has already had similar feedback from India. The government should not be surprised if it is also rebuffed by China.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

May’s exec pay proposals even weaker than expected: Cable

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said that the government’s announcement on executive pay was even weaker than feared.

Vince Cable, who as Business Secretary introduced reforms such as a binding vote on executive pay policy for shareholders, said:

“The register of executive pay doesn’t take us much further forward as this information is already publicly available via a quick internet search.

“There is no mention of making shareholder votes on executive pay more regular, as the Conservatives promised.

“Instead of making it obligatory to put workers on boards as the government announced amid much fanfare, companies will be able to appoint a non-executive director who in some unspecified way will represent workers.

“Finally, the new corporate governance code for large private companies - such as BHS - is voluntary and therefore likely to have little effect.

“The overblown rhetoric from Theresa May is completely at odds with the weakness of the new rules.”

David Davis showing "destructive complacency" in Brexit talks

The Liberal Democrats have accused David Davis of "destructive complacency" over Brexit, as the EU warned the government's "constructive ambiguity" is delaying progress in the talks.

Commission President Juncker this morning described Britain’s Brexit position papers as "unsatisfactory," while the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned the UK's ambiguity is delaying talks over a transition period and future trade deal.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has reportedly warned the prime minister that failure to make significant progress in the negotiations by the end of the year would trigger a business exodus.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"David Davis has described the government's approach as 'constructive ambiguity,' but it looks increasingly like destructive complacency.

"This endless game of smoke and mirrors is undermining investment and already leading to jobs moving abroad.

"Unless swift progress is made, the UK risks crashing out of the EU without any deal at all, with disastrous consequences for British jobs.

"Businesses need reassurances now or they will start planning for the worst.

"The best way to deliver the certainty businesses need is to keep Britain in the single market and customs union."

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cable takes on May over executive pay climb down

Liberal Democrat leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable has accused Theresa May of a climb down on executive pay, and described her widely trailed new policy as “strong on rhetoric, weak on action”.

Ahead of the government’s expected announcement on Tuesday, Sir Vince said:

“As Business Secretary I gave binding votes on executive pay policy to shareholders of publicly limited companies, requiring the approval of 50% of shareholders, and allowing a transparent single number for pay. There was little enthusiasm from the Conservatives for this, but it has had a demonstrable effect on reducing executive pay.

“Theresa May's climb down is disappointing, with the government reportedly abandoning plans both to give workers representation on boards and more regular votes for shareholders on boardroom pay. It was a plan very much driven by one of the Prime Minister’s special adviser who was discredited for other reasons and has now left Downing Street.

“The prime minister is offering strong rhetoric but weak action. Business-bashing slogans will do nothing to increase the confidence of companies already worried about the effects of Theresa May’s plans to take us out of the single market and customs union. And nor will these slogans do anything to improve the rights of workers or shareholders.

"It is a sign of low growth and low business confidence that Mrs May has felt compelled to U-turn by watering down her proposals."

Vince has argued for a strengthening of working participation in decision-making, including staff representation on remuneration committees, and the right for employees of a listed company to be represented on the board. Liberal Democrats would change company law to permit a German-style two-tier board structure to include employees.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“If you want single market, vote for it” – Lib Dems challenge Labour

The Liberal Democrats have laid down a challenge to Keir Starmer by telling him to back an amendment to the EU Withdrawl Bill if Labour is serious about now supporting membership of the single market.

Starmer claimed in The Observer that following a U-turn, Labour would now support membership of the single market during a transitional deal, though refused to make a long-term commitment to Britain remaining in the world’s largest market. Jeremy Corbyn has previously ruled out staying in the single market.

The Liberal Democrats will table an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to force a vote on whether Britain should leave the European Economic Area and therefore the single market. The party will also seek to amend the Bill to retain membership of the customs union.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“This Bill is a chance to take a wrecking ball to the extreme Brexit agenda being pursued by this government. Labour needs to make up its mind whether it is with the Conservatives, seeking to take us out of the single market and customs union, or with the Liberal Democrats who want to protect jobs by remaining inside.

“We will use every opportunity to defend Britain’s membership of the single market and customs union on which so many people’s jobs and living standards rely.”

The current wording of the Bill (p.54, paragraphs 12 – 17) would repeal the 1993 EEA Act which implements the EEA agreement into UK law.

But there is ongoing legal debate over whether the government has the authority to leave the EEA without a separate parliamentary vote.

Tom Brake added:

“There is a growing consensus that parliament must have the final say over whether to leave the European Economic Area.

“If ministers were expecting to ram through their extreme Brexit plans with no accountability, they might be in for a nasty surprise.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

Boris must show he's not Trump's poodle and cancel state visit

Boris Johnson has said Donald Trump's state visit is likely to go ahead in 2018 rather than this year, while admitting the US President got it "totally wrong" on Charlottesville.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary Jo Swinson commented:

"It shouldn't have taken this long for the Foreign Secretary to criticise Donald Trump for his abhorrent defence of white supremacists in Charlottesville.

"Boris Johnson has long been an apologist for Trump, as he and other Brexiteers are so desperate for a US trade deal.

"But recent weeks have shown just how risky it would be to abandon our allies in Europe and become dependent on an unstable, obnoxious and narcissistic bully.

"Boris must show once and for all he isn't Trump's poodle and demand the state visit is called off."

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cable: Bogus student visa figures "happened on May's watch"

Only 4,600 international students overstayed their visas last year, less than a twentieth of the previous estimates of 100,000, official figures released today have revealed.

For the first time figures have been published based on exit checks from UK ports, showing that 97 per cent of foreign students left the UK after finishing their studies.

The Liberal Democrats said the figures showed the Conservatives threat to crack down on foreign students should be called off immediately.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“This débâcle happened on Theresa May’s watch at the Home Office. I spent five years in coalition battling her department's bogus figures on this issue but she responded by erecting a wall of visa restrictions on an entirely false basis.

“Cabinet Brexiteers fought a referendum campaign on a flawed prospectus, scapegoating foreign students who weren’t even here, and demonising EU citizens who are now leaving the country voluntarily.

“No wonder the government has announced a review into the impact of foreign students because its economically disastrous policy was based on figures that were out by 96%.

"As we argued repeatedly with Theresa May, overseas students bring huge economic benefits to universities and the broader economy.  It makes no sense for students to be included in official immigration statistics.

"Higher education is one of Britain's most successful export industries, we must not let it be destroyed by the Conservatives' short-sighted obsession with immigration targets based on spectacularly wrong data."

Cable: Migration stats show Brexodus of EU workers

Quarterly migration data published today by the Office for National Statistics shows another significant rise in EU citizens leaving the UK, up 33,000 to 122,000. Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

“These figures show a deeply worrying Brexodus of EU citizens who have made the UK their home. This is largely a result of the failure of Theresa May's government to guarantee EU citizens' right to stay.

Recent research shows that more than half of British businesses are struggling to recruit the skilled labour they need.  We have already seen record numbers of EU workers leaving our NHS, and today we hear stark warnings from the food and drink industry that they face significant disruption and economic damage if European nationals continue to leave.

“This government must act urgently to give assurances to skilled and hard-working EU citizens, before any more damage is done to our already weakened economy.

“The common sense solution is for the British Government to unilaterally make clear EU citizens resident here are welcome to stay. This will open the way to reciprocal offers from EU governments to offer the same assurances to British citizens living and working across Europe.”

May alleged to have concealed officials' post-Brexit violent crime fears

Commenting on reports in The Times that an unpublished Home Office report showed that Britons could be more at risk of terrorism and crime after Brexit, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey said: 

"Theresa May was Home Secretary when this report was drawn up – she must now explain why she did not publish it ahead of the EU referendum. She must also explain why she has since claimed Brexit would not lead to reduced security cooperation when this Government report suggests otherwise.
“Liberal Democrats are clear: being in the European Union makes us safer and helps catch criminals.
“Since the referendum the Prime Minister has let down the public with weak platitudes designed to buy off hard-right Conservative Brexiteers. She must now come clean on what Brexit will mean for our security and fighting crime. How many other reports like this are Conservative Ministers hiding from the British public?”

Foreign student review must allow reason to triumph over prejudice

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to drop overseas students from official immigration figures, as Amber Rudd announces a review into the impact of foreign students on the UK.

It comes as new figures show the number of overseas students overstaying their visas has turned out to be vastly exaggerated.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey commented:

"International students bring huge benefits to the UK economy and help our universities thrive - after which the vast majority leave the country.

"Yet for too long the Conservatives have preferred an arbitrary immigration target that ignores these benefits and the fact these students are temporary migrants only.

"I hope when the conclusions of this overdue analysis are published, reason and evidence will finally triumph over the Conservatives' headline-grabbing, prejudice-appeasing nonsense. This must include dropping overseas students from official immigration statistics.

"Higher education is one of Britain's most successful export industries. We must not let it be destroyed by the Conservatives' short-sighted obsession with immigration targets.

"It is yet to be seen whether Amber Rudd will overcome the ambition-based objections of her predecessor Theresa May."

Cable: Osborne right to take on May over Northern Powerhouse

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has backed George Osborne in the row with Theresa May over HS3 after the former Conservative Chancellor accused her advisers of trying to bury the Northern Powerhouse..

Vince Cable said:

“George Osborne is absolutely right to call out the prime minister for starving the North of investment in its railways. It is a priority for the economy of the North of England that it has a good trans-Pennine rail route.

"Frankly, HS3 should have priority over HS2. At present the government is investing too little beyond London, be it electrification in Wales or infrastructure investment in the SW.

"The prime minister has given little support to the Northern Powerhouse, or to the regions in general. The region desperately needs more investment and a proper industrial strategy, or Britain will grow ever more divided and unequal.”

Grayling regional rail comments are a "betrayal of the North"

The Liberal Democrats have accused Chris Grayling of a "betrayal of the North," after the Transport Secretary said it was not up to central government to advance Crossrail in Northern England.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Chris Grayling said: "the success of Northern transport depends on the North itself."

It comes after the government dropped pledges to electrify rail routes in Wales, the Midlands and the North, while supporting the £30 billion Crossrail 2 scheme for London.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary Jenny Randerson commented:

"This is a betrayal of the North and all the areas across the country being neglected under this Conservative government.

"The government is trying to dodge responsibility after breaking its promises to upgrade regional rail links.

"Chris Grayling may be a South East MP but as Transport Secretary he has a responsibility to look beyond the capital.

"The rest of the country deserves better. The government needs to act now to stop the 'Northern Powerhouse' becoming a byword for failure."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Govt's support for Trump on Afghanistan contrasts with failure to condemn him in the past

Donald Trump has committed to send more troops to Afghanistan, in a move that was rapidly welcomed by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

The Liberal Democrats said the Government's rapid praise for Trump contrasted with its failure to condemn him in the past.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary and Deputy Leader Jo Swinson commented:

"For once, sense seems to have prevailed in the White House.

"But to succeed in Afghanistan will require winning the hearts and minds of its people and working closely with neighbouring countries.

"On that front, Donald Trump has already done untold damage through his proposed refugee ban, Islamophobic comments and cack-handed approach to foreign affairs.

“The government’s rapid statement of support for Trump today contrasts with its failure to swiftly condemn his divisive views and actions in the past.

"Simply pouring more troops into Afghanistan will not work without a broader strategy involving careful diplomacy and redoubled efforts to build a stable government."

No Brexit deal would make it harder to return abducted children to UK parents

British officials have admitted it will become harder to recover children abducted and taken out of the country by a parent if no Brexit deal is struck with the EU.

The comments come as the Government publishes its latest Brexit negotiating paper (pdf) on judicial cooperation after Brexit, including proposals to end the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“This exposes the reality of a no deal Brexit, abducted children at greater risk and families plunged into uncertainty.

“The Government needs to end its heartless insistence that no deal is better than a bad deal.

“Avoiding the devastating human consequences of an extreme Brexit should come ahead of the ideological obsessions of Tory Brexiteers.

"The Conservatives claim to be the party of family values, but their plans would risk tearing more families apart."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

ECJ plan shows Govt is in denial over reality of international trade - Davey

Sir Paul Jenkins has called Theresa May's Brexit strategy 'foolish' for hoping to distance the UK from the European Court of Justice whilst maintaining the benefits of the single market.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey, said:
"Either Theresa May is trying to con Brexiteers and really understands the critical legal point Sir Paul Jenkins is making - or she is heading for the hardest of Brexits, despite the evidence that this could only work at huge cost to British people.

"The Conservatives are refusing to admit publicly that Europe will still require Britain to abide by their rules in nearly 50% of our trade, hard Brexit or not.

"Brexit Tories are increasingly like Donald Trump in their refusal to understand the reality of international trade law - namely, you can't tell the other side what to do." 

BHS prosecution - Carmichael responds

Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael has responded to the announcement that the pension regulator is to prosecute Dominic Chappell over its investigation into BHS.

Alistair Carmichael said:

"The legal process must now run its course but no prosecution will give back the jobs of 11,000 people who Philip Green effectively put on the dole by passing the company on to Mr Chappell.

“While Green continues to enjoy his knighthood and his yacht, we need to ensure that workers and pensioners are never again put through such an ordeal.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Brexit goods paper - Govt must get real instead of producing fantasy wish-lists

Responding to the government's Brexit position paper on trade in goods and services, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“Big Ben may have fallen silent but the clock on the Brexit talks is still ticking - it’s time for the government to get real instead of producing fantasy wishlists.

“David Davis is sowing the seeds of more chaos with these short-sighted and short-termist plans.

“British businesses are being hung out to dry, with no long-term certainty they’ll be able to carry on selling goods freely to the EU. Meanwhile the trade in services that provides the bedrock of the UK economy is being overlooked.

“Nothing would provide businesses and consumers with more certainty than staying in the Single Market and Customs Union. That is the option this government should be pursuing if it was serious about protecting jobs and free trade."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cable: Sale of Green Investment Bank is "environmentally irresponsible"

Vince Cable has branded the Government's sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB), which was completed today, as "environmentally irresponsible."

The Government confirmed today Macquarie Group Limited has now completed its purchase of the GIB for £2.3bn, which will now be known as the Green Investment Group (GIG).

The Liberal Democrat Leader, who launched the Bank in 2012 during his time as Business Secretary, warned its environmental mission is now "in danger of disappearing" and called for Parliament to ensure commitments to protect green investment in the UK are kept.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

"Selling off the Green Investment Bank is environmentally irresponsible and risks setting the UK back years in its efforts to tackle climate change.

"The Bank has done an extremely good job in supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon projects. It has managed to attract over £10bn of private investment in these sectors that would not otherwise have happened.

"At a time when business confidence is falling and the Conservatives are giving mixed signals on their commitment to the environment, this is the worst time to undermine investment in the green economy.

"The Green Investment Bank's environmental mission is in danger of disappearing under the ownership of a private Australian bank whose track record does not inspire confidence.

"Sadly, this is another of the positive legacies of the Liberal Democrats in government that the Conservatives are now burying.

"Parliament must ensure that commitments to protect the Bank's green objectives are fully honoured in both spirit and letter."

Friday, August 18, 2017

Delay to Brexit trade talks a "humiliating climbdown" for David Davis

Ministers have privately admitted that the government may not start negotiating Britain's future trade relationship with the EU until the end of the year, it emerged today.

This comes despite David Davis insisting back in May that talks on a future trade agreement would take place in parallel with negotiation over the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"This is a humiliating climbdown for David Davis. Once again the bluff and bluster of Tory eurosceptics is being exposed to the cold reality of Brexit.

"We were told the EU would be begging us for a trade deal, now even the hard Brexiteers in this government are having to admit Brussels won't roll over just because the Germans sell us cars.

"The UK could now be left with just ten months to negotiate a trade agreement before we crash out of the EU.

"The reality is no trade deal will be able to replace the benefits for jobs and living standards we enjoy as members of the Single Market and Customs Union."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Northern Ireland border plan has "more holes than a colander"

The Liberal Democrats have said the government's plan for the Northern Ireland border after Brexit has "more holes in it than a colander."

It comes after the government admitted EU nationals will still be able to enter the UK from Ireland after Brexit under its plans.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey commented:

"This plan has more holes in it than a colander.

"The Brexiteers claimed it was worth damaging the UK economy to reclaim control of our borders, now we're told even this isn't going to happen.

"The Conservatives are finally admitting that there are ways to control free movement by making reforms to our labour market and social security.

"That raises the question, why are they still planning to damage jobs and living standards by leaving the Single Market?

"Instead of this half-way house that will satisfy no-one, the Conservatives should protect the economy by keeping Britain in the Single Market and Customs Union."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Customs Paper shows “constructive ambiguity” code for “we don’t have a clue”

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the lack of detail in the Government's paper on new customs arrangements after Brexit.

It comes after Brexit Secretary Davis claimed that lack of clarity over the Government's Brexit plans was a deliberate attempt at "constructive ambiguity" as part of the negotiations.

Proposals for new custom arrangements in the paper include "new innovative facilitations," "technology-based solutions" and an "innovative and untested approach."

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael commented:

“It’s clear that ‘constructive ambiguity’ is code for ‘we don’t have a clue.’

“The government has effectively narrowed down its options to having a hard border, or staying in the Customs Union but calling it something else.

“This paper has more abstract nouns than an A-Level English essay. Who knew there were so many ways for the government to admit that they don’t have a clue what they’re doing?

“David Davis should spend less time with a thesaurus and more time looking into the chaos at our borders that would be caused by an extreme Brexit.
“The only way to guarantee free and easy trade with the EU is to stay in the Customs Union and Single Market.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Failure to address indeterminate prison sentences a "disgrace"

The Liberal Democrats have backed calls by the Chairman of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, for urgent action to address the backlog of people serving prison sentences with no fixed release date.

Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs) were abolished in 2012, but there are over 3,000 people in England and Wales still serving them, with many facing long delays for Parole Board hearings.

Those serving indeterminate sentences have also been found to have far higher rates of self-harm than those serving fixed sentences.

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks commented:

"It's a disgrace that five years on since the abolition of IPPs, thousands are still languishing in prison serving sentences way beyond their original terms.

"When the Coalition Government abolished IPPs, the Secretary of State was given the power to change the release test and it was expected he would use it. At a time when we are trying to get prisoner numbers down, it is absurd that this has not been done.

"We know that those serving indeterminate sentences are more likely to self-harm and attempt to take their own lives.

"This situation is made worse by understaffing, chronic overcrowding and lack of access to mental healthcare in our prisons.

"The government has a moral responsibility to reform the system and speed up the release of those who have served their tariff sentences."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tory attempt to take away people's rights under cover of Brexit Bill

Responding to reports that the Repeal Bill will remove the right of UK citizens to sue the Government, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"This is a shameless attempt to take away people's rights through the back-door.

"Citizens must be able to hold the government to account when it breaks the rules.

"The Liberal Democrats will fight in Parliament to stop Brexit from being used to water down individual rights."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farron: Modern slavery in the UK is "a national scandal"

Commenting on the news that the National Crime Agency estimates there are tens of thousands of victims of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK, former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: 

"This shocking report shows that modern slavery is alive and well in 21st century Britain.

"It's a hidden national scandal.

"People are being bought and sold like cattle across the UK right under our noses.

"The government must step up efforts to stamp out this vile trade.

"Local police forces across the country need to be trained to spot the signs, and victims need to know that they'll be fully supported and protected if they come forward."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Soaring trade deficit shows Brexit export boom has failed to materialise

The UK's monthly trade deficit soared by £2bn in June, driven by a 3.5% slump in exports, figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed.

The figures also show that exports to EU countries increased by 2.0% between the first and second quarters of the year, while exports to non-EU countries fell by 1.4%.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“As with the extra £350m a week for the NHS, the export boom dreamed up by the Brexiteers has failed to materialise.

"The advantage to UK exporters from the fall in the pound has been offset by the rising cost of imports and uncertainty caused by Brexit.

"As these figures show, Europe remains by far the UK's most important export market.

"This underlines the need to support UK exporters and control our trade deficit by remaining in the single market and customs union."

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Local Liberal Democrats object to proposed Baglan gaol

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats have joined the objections to Welsh Government land in Baglan being sold to the Ministry of Justice for a prison.  The prison being sited on the business park will tend to deter firms from setting up there and it will be a poor advertisement for Briton Ferry and Neath, being visible from the GWR main line. Although it is defined as a category C prison, there would be a danger of more dangerous convicts being housed there because of overspill from England's historically high prison population.

Frank Little, candidate for Neath in the general election, added: "As a matter of principle, Liberal Democrats object to 'super prisons' because they do not help rehabilitation as more local facilities do. We agree that town and city prisons built before the Great War should be replaced or extensively renovated to modern standards, but we should not lose successful initiatives such as Cardiff's 'Clink' restaurant.

"The need for more prison space is a direct result of not only poor rehabilitation - we need to increase prison staff to improve this, not reduce it, as government has been doing - but also of the Blair/Brown governments' creation of a new criminal offence for virtually every day they were in office."

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Neuberger ECJ warning shows Government leaving judges in the line of fire on Brexit

Responding to warnings by Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger that UK judges need more clarity over the role of the EU Court of Justice after Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"Judges have already been branded 'enemies of the people' for daring to challenge Theresa May's plans to force through an extreme Brexit with no accountability.

"Now the Government's inability to set out clearly how, whether or when ECJ rulings should be taken into account risks leaving judges in the firing line yet again.

"The Government must provide greater clarity in the Repeal Bill over the role the ECJ will play post-Brexit.

"We must not let the Conservatives' obsession with ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ lead to a chaotic Brexit that would maximise damage to British jobs and families.

"That should include abiding by ECJ rulings when this is required to ensure free trade with the EU and continued cooperation against crime and terrorism."

Monday, August 07, 2017

Labour leadership must end infatuation with Venezuela - Cable

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's statement on Venezuela, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"Labour have again failed to condemn President Maduro as he slides his country closer to dictatorship. It remains a source of fascination that the far left see what is happening in Venezuela as some kind of role model for British politics.

"The whole idea that Chavez and his successor could serve as a dry run for government in the UK is absolutely horrifying.

"Venezuela is facing a complete economic collapse with hyperinflation and chronic shortages of basic necessities. This is essentially a rich country slipping into deep poverty, all the while eroding democratic institutions and the rule of law.

"The leadership of the Labour Party must make it abundantly clear that they have ended their infatuation with the Venezuelan regime."

Friday, August 04, 2017

Cautious welcome for train passenger ombudsman

Commenting on the news that train companies have committed to introducing a new independent ombudsman Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary Jenny Randerson said: 
“Whilst this is welcome news for passengers, the government need to now make sure this is in place as quickly as possible. Commuters are fed up with poor service and there can be no excuses for delays in establishing this ombudsman system as one already exists that could simply be expanded”

Gove hypocrisy on fisheries exposed

Liberal Democrats have reacted with bafflement to the statement by Michael Gove that British waters would continue to be fished by EU trawlers post-Brexit. Gove made his experiences of the fishing industry growing up in Aberdeen a major reason for his support for Brexit.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

“Yet another lie of the Leave campaign has been exposed by the Environment Secretary.

“Michael Gove chose to put stopping EU fishing in British waters front and centre of his campaign to leave the EU, yet is now telling Danish Fishermen the opposite.

“We saw a promise of £350 million for the NHS on the side of a bus, this promise to fisherman might as well have been painted on the hull of a boat.”

Thursday, August 03, 2017

National Trust attacks government on farming – Lib Dem response

The family farm could disappear due to the government’s failure to guarantee subsidy beyond 2022, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Liberal Democrat farming spokesperson Kate Parminter said:

“No doubt ministers will also ignore the National Trust for being experts.

“It is right that farming subsidy should be in return for promoting the public good, such as for producing high quality food and for improving the environment.

“But the government’s refusal to guarantee subsidies beyond 2022 makes it impossible for farmers to plan, threatens the very future of the family farm, and could have devastating effects on the much-loved British landscape.”

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron added:

“Farmers have every right to feel betrayed by this government but ministers no doubt fear that their extreme Conservative Brexit will cause such damage to the economy that they won’t be in a financial position to guarantee subsidies for the family farm into the next parliament. Farmers have been betrayed.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Liberal Democrats say: current drug laws do not work

Commenting on ONS figures showing that last year there were the highest number of drug poisoning deaths since records began, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said: 

"These latest statistics highlight the abject failure of the Government's drug strategy. 

"Lives are being lost but the Conservatives seem wedded to this hard-line approach. 

"We have to accept the realities facing us and start taking action that works. Rather than locking up addicts we should be giving these individuals the help they need. How many more lives will be lost before the Government realises this?" 

Candidate for Neath in the general election, Frank Little, added: "Giving help along the lines proposed by Norman Lamb and the Liberal Democrats will not only save lives but remove the dangerous drug paraphernalia dumped in Neath's alleys and playgrounds. It should also cut down the number of homeless on our streets".