Saturday, September 30, 2017

Government should be more serious about FGM and forced marriage

Government statistics released last Thursday show the uptake of Forced Marriage Protection Orders and Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders remains very low, with only 72 and 32 orders made respectively between April - June 2017. 

Commenting, Lib Dem peer Lynne Featherstone, who brought in Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders as a minister in the last government, said:

“Whilst it is encouraging to see more Forced Marriage Protection Orders and Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders being made the numbers are still incredibly low.

"More information and training must be made available to school staff so that they can spot the signs of vulnerability and act appropriately. Without better training these horrific practices will continue under the radar and unreported.
"We should be empowering teachers to report cases but this will only happen if they feel confident in their understanding of the issues at play. The government should ensure the funding is available for this – passing legislation alone will not do.”

Cable: Bank of England needs new mandate including growth and employment

Vince Cable has called for the Bank of England to be given a new mandate allowing it to promote growth and employment.

It comes as Mark Carney hinted that the Bank of England will raise interest rates in the coming months, a move the Liberal Democrat Leader warned would risk depriving the UK economy of its "only source of life support."

Official figures yesterday showed the UK economy grew at its slowest annual pace since 2013 in the three months to June.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“These downgraded growth figures are yet another sign of the slowdown our economy is experiencing, as Brexit negotiations hit a brick wall and business confidence falters.

“While Mark Carney is right to be worried about unsustainable credit growth, raising interest rates any time soon risks depriving our struggling economy of its only source of life support.

“The Liberal Democrats were the first to call for independence for the Bank of England twenty years ago, and we will continue to defend its autonomy from political attacks.

"But in this exceptional environment of low growth and low interest rates, the Bank needs a new mandate that empowers it to target growth and employment as well as low inflation.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Universal Credit: Tory rebellion shows cuts must be reversed in Autumn Budget

Responding to the news that Conservative backbenchers have called for a pause to the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC), Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesman Stephen Lloyd MP said:

"There is a mounting sense that the government could be defeated if it does not immediately pause the roll-out of Universal Credit.

"The roll-out has been an utter failure so far, with many claimants waiting over two months for their first payment and some relying on loans to survive. Rent arrears among universal credit claimants are also through the roof.

"If the Conservatives are serious about helping ordinary people get ahead in life, they must immediately pause the roll-out of Universal Credit until these issues are resolved. Reversing the huge cuts to UC in this Autumn's budget would be a good start.

"Universal credit was supported by the Liberal Democrats in coalition because it promised to make work pay.

"Sadly, under this Tory Government it has been cut to shreds, leaving families worse off and with weaker incentives to find work." 

Cable: May a hypocrite on free trade

With Theresa May making a speech in defence of free markets, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“Theresa May professes to support free markets yet she is determined to drag Britain out of the world’s largest, most ambitious free market, the European single market.

"The EU's four freedoms - of goods, services, capital and people - have underpinned British prosperity for the past 40 years. Yet the Conservatives' extreme Brexit will deprive us from all four, making us poorer.

“Meanwhile, Conservative attempts to build new trade relationships in a post-Brexit world have been rebuffed with the Boeing row underlying just how hard it will be to strike a trade deal with America.

“Far from thriving, business is struggling under Theresa May’s premiership as Britain slips ever further down the growth league.

“I am proud that the Liberal Democrat policy of independence for the Bank of England twenty years ago - the subject of my maiden speech - has increased growth and prosperity. Sadly government policy is now pushing Britain in the opposite direction, towards fortresses and economic downturns.”

Cable responds to Green's claims that Lib Dem voters will sink Corbyn

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has challenged Damian Green after the Theresa May ally claimed that Liberal Democrat voters would secure the Prime Minister victory at the next election.

Vince Cable said:

“Damian Green is right that as moderate Labour voters come to realise that Jeremy Corbyn supports Brexit and does not want Britain to remain a member of the single market, they will see Liberal Democrats as the moderate, economically credible alternative.

“But make no mistake, we are every bit as determined to win over Conservative voters. They have seen Theresa May destroy the Conservative reputation for being the party of sound economics, and seen how uncaring and incompetent Theresa May's government is over NHS waiting lists, school cuts and benefits.

“Damian Green is a man of decent instincts and he understands that the centre ground has been abandoned by the two biggest parties. Under my leadership I am determined that the Liberal Democrats should fill that vast space.”

Johnson has clearly broken Ministerial Code

Lib Dem Brexit Spokesman Tom Brake has written to the Prime Minister, calling on her to investigate whether Boris Johnson has broken the Ministerial Code.

Following on from Johnson's reprimand from the head of the UK Statistics Authority due to his repeated peddling of the discredited £350 million a week for the NHS figure, Tom Brake has called for the PM to investigate whether Boris has breached the Ministerial Code on three fronts 
  • Breaching collective responsibility by openly criticising the government.
  • A conflict of duty between his public duty as Foreign Secretary and senior Cabinet member and his private interests campaigning for the leadership of the Conservative party and promoting a hard Brexit
  • Contributing to a newspaper, without observing the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility.
Boris Johnson has also repeatedly broken the sixth principle of the Seven Principles of Public Life, which requires holders of public office to be honest, notably in relation to his claim that £350 million per week will be available to the NHS post-Brexit.

Commenting, Tom Brake MP said:

"It is time the Prime Minister called time on Johnson's antics and gave him the sack.

"He has repeatedly been dishonest to the British public, and has flouted both the spirit and the letter of the Ministerial Code, time and again.

"It is an affront to the office of Foreign Secretary for the role to be used as little more than a platform for the office holder's leadership ambitions. And it is an insult to the British people for their foreign secretary to be peddling mistruths to them on the biggest foreign policy issue of the day, Brexit."

The text of Tom's letter to the Prime Minister is below:

Dear Prime Minister

Infringements of Ministerial Code by Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson

I am writing to urge you to investigate whether a number of actions and statements by the current Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, have broken the Ministerial Code.

As you will be aware, the Seven Principles of Public life are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. Ministers are expected to observe these in addition to the Ministerial Code.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly broken the sixth principle which requires holders of public office to be honest, notably in relation to his claim that £350 million per week will be available to the NHS post-Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary has also repeatedly broken the Ministerial code, most recently in his article to the Daily Telegraph and subsequent comments regarding the transition period.  His breaches have included, but are not limited to:
  • 1.2 (a) breaching collective responsibility by openly criticising the government.
  • 7.1 failing to recognise that a conflict arises, between his public duty as Foreign Secretary and senior Cabinet member and his private interests campaigning for the leadership of the Conservative party and promoting a hard Brexit
  • 8.6 contributing to a newspaper, without observing the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility.
The Ministerial code sets out the standards of behaviour expected from all those who serve in Government. It is clear that Boris Johnson has broken both the spirit and the letter, time and again.

Please urgently investigate these infractions.

I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely,

Tom Brake MP 
Shadow Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union
Cc Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Saudi Arabia enters the twentieth century

Responding to the news that Saudi Arabia's King Salman has issued an order allowing women to be given driving licences, Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesperson and deputy leader Jo Swinson said:

"It's 2017; this is welcome but decades overdue.  Of course it is good news for women in Saudi Arabia, but they continue to face oppression, such as the guardianship laws that put men in control of women's lives.

"This news must not be allowed to act as a smokescreen to distract from Saudi’s most recent crackdown on human rights and freedom of expression, and the international community must also keep up the pressure on Saudi Arabia to give women equal rights and protection."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Starmer shares Tory lack of vision

Responding to Keir Starmer's speech to Labour conference, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Starmer happily condemns the Tories for a lack of vision on Brexit, but the reality is Labour is just as clueless.
“It is misleading for him to pretend that some new customs arrangement can be reached which doesn’t cause massive disruption to British trade.
“Instead of joining the Tories in the land of fairy tales, Labour should be fighting with the Liberal Democrats to maintain membership of the Single Market and Customs Union. There would be a parliamentary majority if Corbyn and his comrades got off the fence.
“Ultimately, it must be up to the people, not Labour, Tory, or Lib Dem MPs, to decide whether the final deal is good enough.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sensible voices in Labour movement must be listened to

Commenting on the call from within the Labour movement for the party to unite behind membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary, said:

“It is time for the Labour Party to start acting in the interests of the whole country. Staying in the Single Market and Customs Union would be a major step away from Theresa May’s damaging extreme Brexit.

“Labour’s division and confusion over Brexit only acts to show the contempt for the EU that their leadership holds. They are the ones who told the party to march through the voting lobbies in support of the Conservatives’ extreme Brexit plans.

“It is clear that their support for Theresa May’s plans is helping to cause major economic damage. The sensible voices in the party must be listened to.”

Corbyn is working hand in glove with the Conservatives on Brexit

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn's unwillingness to commit the Labour Party to staying in the Single Market, Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“Jeremy Corbyn has always wanted to leave the EU, leave the Single Market and leave the Customs Union. Now he is pulling out his old anti-EU arguments to defend Labour’s endorsement of Brexit

“The idealistic, pro-EU, young people who have rallied behind Corbyn will be mortified to discover that he is working hand in glove with the Conservative Party to promote a ‘hard’ Brexit.

“The Labour Party must be clear on Brexit. This is the biggest issue of our time and the public need to know whether they are lining up with pro-Brexit Corbyn or fighting to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Disappearance of bobbies on the beat means intelligence is drying up - Davey

Responding to comments by senior police officers that the police is under unsustainable strain because of terror attacks, Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, said:

“The first duty of Government is to keep its people safe – this means giving the police the resources they need to do their jobs.

“When Britain's most senior police officers are sounding the alarm about police funding, Ministers must recognise they should be acting urgently.

“The police desperately need more funding as a whole, the disappearance of bobbies on the beat means intelligence is drying up which is vital to preventing terror attacks in the first instance.

“It's time for Theresa May to admit her huge mistakes on police numbers and funding. From terrorism to rising knife crime, from acid attacks to gun crime, the Conservatives' failure to act on police cash is leaving Britain vulnerable."

Vince Cable responds to May's Florence speech

Responding to Theresa May's Brexit speech in Florence yesterday, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

"Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.

"Neither are prepared to fight to keep Britain in the single market and customs union or to offer people a chance to exit from Brexit 

"Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS, instead Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

"No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts."

Friday, September 22, 2017

Brexit Britain is not the land of milk and honey that Gove dreamed of

Commenting on reports that Michael Gove has suppressed reports showing that food prices will rise as a result of Brexit, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Spokesperson, said:

“Michael Gove needs to show a bit of honesty. Brexit Britain is not going to be the land of milk and honey that he dreamed of.

“The truth is clear that on our current path prices will go up, jobs will be lost, public services will suffer and Britain’s place in the world will be diminished.

“This government are dragging the country disastrously and reckless out of the EU. The British public must have a say on the final deal. The Liberal Democrats are the only party offering the people an exit from Brexit.”

10,000 EU nationals have quit NHS since Brexit vote

Vince Cable has called on Theresa May to use her speech in Florence tomorrow to make a bold offer on EU nationals' rights, as new figures reveal that almost 10,000 EU workers quit the NHS in the year after the Brexit vote.

9,832 EU nationals left the NHS between 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, figures provided by NHS Digital today have revealed. This is an increase of 22% on the previous year, and up 42% on two years earlier.

In total 3,885 nurses, 1,794 doctors and 1,518 support staff from the EU left the NHS between June 2016 and June 2017.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for negotiations on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British citizens living in Europe to be ring-fenced so that neither are used as bargaining chips in the broader Brexit negotiations.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

"We are losing thousands of high-quality nurses and doctors from the NHS, driven partly by this government's heartless approach to the Brexit talks.

"Using EU nationals as bargaining chips is not only morally wrong, it is utterly counter-productive and damaging to our NHS.

"It's time for the government to take the issue of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in Europe out of these negotiations.

"Theresa May must make a bold offer to the EU to ring-fence negotiations on citizens’ rights and come to a rapid agreement."

Frank Little, secretary of Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats, added:
"Voters in England and Wales were deceived by a lie (painted on the side of a German bus built in Poland) into voting "Leave" last year. They were told that the NHS would be improved by leaving the EU. Instead, we are losing health professionals, and Brexit Day has not even come round yet. 

"Although the health service is devolved in Wales, even if the Welsh Labour Government changes its mind and opposes Brexit, it is powerless to stop this skills drain."

Govt ignoring fire safety warnings

The Liberal Democrats have responded to claims by Lynn Faulds Wood – author of an independent report - that the government has taken no action on her demand to increase the safety of electrical goods. This is hugely significant as it seems increasingly clear that the Grenfell fire was started due to faulty electrical products.

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat DCLG spokesperson, said:

"The government is risking lives by failing to protect consumers from faulty products that can cause fires.

"There have been repeated calls for action, both before and after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, yet the government has failed to make any changes to improve electrical safety and has failed to implement the recommendations of the Lynn Faulds Wood report on product recall.

"Changes such as introducing compulsory electrical safety tests in all rented homes every five years, as is already the case for gas checks, would be straightforward to implement and would reduce the fire risk to households.

"It must not take another Grenfell before the Government decides to act."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Brexit divorce bill will be way more than £20bn - Cable

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said the Brexit bill will soar way above the £20bn that Theresa May is reportedly going to offer the EU27 in her Florence speech.

Vince Cable said:

"Be warned, the £20bn that Theresa May is reportedly about to offer as the biggest divorce settlement in history would simply be the down payment. Brexit will cost a lot, lot more than this.

"This government is being utterly reckless with the public finances by preparing to spend an absolute fortune simply to get out of Europe.

"This £20bn does not cover liabilities such as pensions and infrastructure projects already agreed to. Nor does it cover the cost of access to the single market. And nor does it cover the cost to the Exchequer in reduced tax receipts due to the slowdown in the economy.

"Conservative voices are attacking the likes of Philip Hammond for supposedly talking up the problems of Brexit. Well, there is a very simple solution - ministers could publish the fifty-plus impact studies into the cost of Brexit on different sectors of the economy. Then the public would be better placed to judge the real cost of Brexit, and they could decide for themselves in a referendum on the final deal."

Vince Cable responds to OECD growth forecast and falling small business confidence

New forecasts by the OECD today that predict UK growth will slow to 1% in 2018, the lowest growth in the G7.

It comes as a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found the number of small businesses planning to close or downsize is the highest since records began, while optimism amongst small firms has fallen to its lowest level since the EU referendum.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

"Brexit is set to turn Britain into the sick man of Europe again.

"One in eight small businesses now plan to close or downsize, the worst level since records began.

"This is economic reality, not political spin.

"Theresa May must change course from an extreme Brexit, to avoid years of lower growth and falling living standards."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Work has changed, workers' rights haven’t - Cable

The Liberal Democrats have called for major upgrades to workers rights to reflect the modern workplace.

The party has proposed new measures to protect workers whilst maintaining the flexibility valued by businesses and employees alike. These address serious issues that have been raised around insecurity, low pay and uncertain employment rights.

The changes to party policy mean that the Lib Dems are the first of the major parties to take on board the recommendations of the Taylor review and call for proper protections for the 21st century workforce.

The party has called for higher a minimum-wage for workers on zero-hours contracts, a new legal employment category for workers in the gig economy, and greater enforcement of employment rights by HMRC and tribunals.

The Liberal Democrats have a strong record of upholding workers’ rights. Whilst in coalition the Liberal Democrats banned exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts, while the party’s manifesto promises to scrap tribunal fees, strengthen worker participation in company decision-making, and give zero-hours workers a formal right to request a fixed contract.

Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats said:

“The workplace has evolved and we need to acknowledge the hazards as well as the advantages that arise from this. These proposals will ensure that workers’ rights are fit for the 21st century.

“Flexible labour markets are in general a positive thing. However, there is always a risk that workers will not be treated fairly.

“Work might have changed, but workers’ rights haven’t. We need to embrace the possibilities created by new technology while ensuring that workers get a fair deal.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New strategy needed to beat terror

In the wake of the recent terrorist outrages in the UK Liberal Democrats are calling for a bold change of strategy to defeat terrorism and counter violent extremism. At the heart of the strategy being proposed is proper funding and resourcing for community police.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for proper funding of community policing and working with affected communities to fight against terrorism and violent extremism. In addition, cooperation with European neighbours is critical to our safety.

The perpetrators of these attacks were often known to the police or suspected by the community. In addition, they are also calling for the government to scrap the failed prevent strategy, and replace it with a community-led programme called ‘Engage’.

Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, said:

"Terrorists are breaking through Britain's security defences so it's time to look again urgently at what's working and what isn't.

“Conservatives just want more of the same, believing mass surveillance is key, subjecting everyone to intrusion, not just genuine suspects.

"Their desire to undermine encryption for our messages would actually leave us less safe: leading figures from the security services rightly argue, encryption helps to guarantee our safety.

"Coupled with their police cuts, when police can be vital sources of intelligence at the community level, the Conservatives are failing to do everything sensible to protect us.

“The Conservatives apparent willingness to throw out key protective mechanisms like the European Arrest Warrant and Europol, just to appease the hard Brexiteers in their Party, shows just how unfit they are to govern”.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lib Dems call for pause to "shambolic" Universal Credit roll-out

The Liberal Democrats have demanded a pause in the roll-out of Universal Credit, which according to charities, councils and housing associations is a disaster in slow-motion.

A mandatory six-week wait to receive a first payment is causing people serious difficulties, with over half of new claimants having to borrow money to make ends meet. Universal Credit's policy of making claimants pay landlords rent directly has also led to a major spike in rent arrears.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding that the roll-out be halted until major reforms are put in place, including ensuring those moving to Universal Credit get an Advance Payment and reducing the wait at the start of a claim.

The party has called on Labour to back a pause in the Universal Credit roll-out before it accelerates dramatically in October and causes more hardship for millions of families.

Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson, said:

“We support the principle of Universal Credit, which is to help the disadvantaged into work.

"But the roll-out of Universal Credit so far under the Conservatives has been utterly shambolic.

"Families waiting weeks for their first payment are having to borrow money to make ends meet and rent arrears are going through the roof.

“As if this wasn’t enough, Conservative cuts to the amount people can earn before their benefits are reduced are destroying incentives to find work, while inflation is eroding the value of those benefits even further.

“That is why today I am calling on the Labour Party to work with us in demanding that the Government pause the roll-out of Universal Credit, before it is too late.

"These problems must be resolved, before more innocent people have their lives wrecked by this heartless and incompetent government.”

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"O Canada! Please help" - May

Responding to the news Theresa May plans to use the existing EU-Canada trade deal as the basis of a new trade agreement with Canada post-Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Theresa May is racking up air miles desperately trying to recreate what we have already.
“This copy and paste Brexit is a huge waste of time and resources.
“Can ministers point to a single country that has responded to their plea for new and improved trade deals?

“The government is pointing to a boost in drinks and spirits exports, but we'll need to keep enough to drown our sorrows given their shambolic handling of Brexit."


Armed forces desperately need a pay rise

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to immediately lift the pay cap on the armed forces to address a growing recruitment crisis.

Currently, a newly trained private on £18,488 would see a £351 real-terms pay cut next year once inflation is taken into account. The Liberal Democrats would raise wages in line with inflation, meaning a newly trained private would get a pay rise of £536 up to just over £19,000.

Latest figures show the number of fully trained regular Army soldiers has dropped to 77,940, way below the 2020 target of 82,000.

Voting at conference, the party also called for improved support for the families of those serving in the armed forces and an urgent review into skills shortages.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Secretary Judith Jolly said:

“Men and women who serve in our Armed Forces deserve the utmost support and respect for their sacrifice, but sadly this government has let them down.

“Too little has been done to address the chronic low morale amongst those currently serving, and the country is being put at risk by failures to recruit new people with specific skills needed for 21st century warfare.

“The Liberal Democrats today are proposing a number of new measures to support current, former and prospective Armed Forces personnel.

"These include lifting the 1% pay cap to give our armed forces the pay rise they deserve,

"We also need better support for families of those who serve and new recruitment initiatives for technical skills.

“We cannot afford to sit back and watch this situation deteriorate further. These actions are critical for the security of our country, and to ensure that those who serve and their families are given the support they deserve.” 

Cable: Boris' £350m lie exposed by UK stats authority

Boris Johnson’s repetition of the claim that Brexit will create £350 million a week to spend on the NHS has been criticised as “a clear misuse of official statistics” by the head of the UK Statistics Authority.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

"Boris' £350m lie has been exposed yet again.

"He knows an extreme Brexit would damage the economy and mean less cash for the NHS.

"I'm glad to see the independent UK Statistics Authority has the courage to slap Boris down.

"It's a shame the same can't be said of Theresa May."

May must use Florence speech to guarantee rights of EU nationals

The Liberal Democrats have called on Theresa May to use her speech next week in Florence to change course and unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals, to prevent a 'Brexodus' of thousands of nurses and teachers working in Britain’s schools and hospitals.

In a conference motion passed today, the party demanded that the government urgently publish a review into the impact its Brexit policies are having on staffing shortfalls in public services.

There are over 60,000 EU nationals working in the NHS, making up 10% of doctors and 7% of nurses. In addition, there are nearly 100,000 EU staff working in the social care system.
Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:
“The Conservatives’ insistence on an extreme Brexit poses a clear threat to our public services.
“Already the government’s stubborn reluctance to guarantee the rights of EU nationals is making thousands of nurses and teachers from Europe question their future here.
“Plans to double the immigration skills charge and clamp down on EU migration risk making the recruitment crisis facing teaching and nursing even worse.
“The Government should urgently publish a review into how its policies on Brexit and immigration will affect staffing shortages in the public sector.
“Theresa May must also use her Florence speech next week to guarantee the rights of EU nationals and prevent a damaging Brexodus from our schools and hospitals.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Boris repeating the £350m lie doesn't make it true

Responding to Boris Johnson's Telegraph article in which he repeats the claim Brexit will lead to £350m for the NHS, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"Boris Johnson should know that simply repeating a lie doesn't make it true.

"Crashing out of the single market would severely damage our economy and mean less money for the NHS, not more.

"This Brexit fantasy is a transparent attempt to appeal to Conservative right-wingers and prepare the ground for a leadership bid.

"With the Tories increasingly hell-bent on an extreme Brexit, it is crucial we fight to stay in the Single Market and offer the British people a way out of this mess."

May must face down Boris, the Poundland Trump - Cable

Vince Cable has launched a powerful attack on Boris Johnson ahead of the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth. The Liberal Democrat leader has challenged Theresa May to slap down her Foreign Secretary and show some leadership after Johnson sought to sink May's proposal for a transitional Brexit deal, before a likely Johnson putsch for the Conservative leadership.

Vince Cable said:

“Boris Johnson is on manoeuvres, which means everyone else should take cover.

“He clearly thinks that Theresa May is on the verge of a U-turn which would lead to a
transitional deal that would keep us in the single market. Boris Johnson sees this as his chance to bag the top job, so is pushing for a far more extreme Brexit. This might play well with hard right Conservative MPs but would be a disaster for the UK economy.

“Theresa May must slap down Boris Johnson in the strongest terms or she will lose the last vestige of her authority to negotiate Brexit. The cabinet is more split than an oak tree struck by lightning. Britain desperately  needs political grown-ups who will put the country first, not a Poundland Donald Trump like Boris Johnson.”

Voter ID plans risk undermining our democracy

Government plans to introduce voter ID at five local authorities next May risk "undermining democracy" by preventing people from voting, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Around 3.5 million voters would not have any of the required forms of photo ID if the measure was introduced across the UK, according to estimates by the Electoral Commission.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake commented:

“Introducing voter ID at polling booths is a solution to a problem that is almost non-existent in the UK.

“This is a completely unnecessary move that risks undermining our democracy by preventing millions of people from voting.

“Evidence from around the world tells us forcing voters to bring ID won’t stop determined fraudsters, but is likely to lead to even lower turnouts amongst young people and minority groups.

"We should be encouraging people to vote, not excluding them.”  

Frank Little, local Lib Dem party secretary added:

"As far as Wales is concerned, this is a solution in search of a problem. No party in the Welsh Assembly has raised a question about personation. In my thirty years' experience of campaigning throughout South Wales, I have come across only one challenge. Even this turned out to be the result of an innocent mistake."

Friday, September 15, 2017

May should not use Irma to attack 0.7% aid target

Commenting on Theresa May's attack on the 0.7% aid target in relation to the UK's response to Hurricane Irma, Liberal Democrat International Development Spokesperson Shas Sheehan said:

“It is shocking to see Theresa May using a natural disaster to launch a political attack on the 0.7% target.

“The UK should be doing everything it can to help people affected by Hurricane Irma, both in UK territories and in the rest of the region, and which budget that comes from is frankly irrelevant.

“The European Union’s Development Fund has given millions of euros in funding to a number of the British territories which are impacted.

“Instead of trying to score cheap points by attacking aid rules, the Prime Minister should be asking the EU for support with the relief effort, and taking advantage of the benefits of our membership while we still have them.”

Cable: Rise in interest rates would hurt indebted households

Vince Cable has warned that hiking interest rates would hurt indebted households, after the Bank of England hinted today it may raise rates in the coming months.

The Bank of England's nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee voted today by 7-2 to keep interest rates on hold at 0.25%, amid sluggish growth and a squeeze on household spending.

However, the nine policy-makers then stated that "some withdrawal of monetary stimulus was likely to be appropriate over the coming months."

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“The Bank of England's decision today shows that the UK economy is still too weak to be taken off life support.

"Despite interest rates being at a historic low, growth is already anaemic, wages are falling and consumer spending is fizzling out.

"Raising rates would push up borrowing costs at a time when many squeezed households are increasingly relying on credit.

"With the embarrassing lack of progress in the Brexit negotiations weighing more on businesses every day, the risk of Britain tipping into recession is very real.”

May must stump up the cash for police pay rise

The Liberal Democrats have challenged the government for making police forces fund their own pay rise without providing any additional cash.

In an urgent question in Parliament before the conference break, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael warned that  requiring police forces to spend more without increasing their budgets risks leading to cutbacks to services.

Home Office Minister Sarah Newton responded by claiming that police forces are "sitting on reserves" and that these could used given the "extraordinary circumstances."

Liberal Democrats say that asking police forces to raid reserves to fund their own pay rise is insulting and threatens to stretch police budgets even further.

Alistair Carmichael MP commented:

"The Government refuses to acknowledge that the additional £50m that police forces are now being asked to find will likely result in cutbacks elsewhere.

"If the Prime Minister really wants to reward those on the front-line keeping us safe, she needs to stump up the cash.

"These callous calculations barely disguise the contempt the Conservatives have for those in the public sector.”

£1.14bn election is price of May's vanity

Commenting on reports that the total bill for the snap general election was over £140 million, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip said:

“Not only has Theresa May spent over £140 million of public money on an election she promised not to call, her failure in that election forced her to bung £1 billion more of our money to the DUP. The British taxpayer is paying for May’s mistakes. Yet she tightens the purse strings when it comes to paying for our essential services or giving nurses a pay rise.

“She takes lessons from Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to the people but Wayne Rooney when it comes to her vanity.

“It is a frightening prospect for this country that someone this poor with the public purse is left in charge.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Vince Cable responds to Sky Fox merger being referred to CMA

Responding to the news that Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has referred the 21st Century Fox bid to buy Sky to the Competition and Markets Authority, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

"I am glad that Karen Bradley has shown courage in the face of pressure from the Murdochs.

"This referral is completely justified on grounds both of plurality and broadcasting standards.

"It is now over to the Competition and Markets Authority to properly scrutinise this bid and stand up for a plural and independent media.

"In the current climate, media outlets in this country are particularly vulnerable to takeover because of the weakness of the pound. Media power should not be an auction to the highest bidder."

Brexit Britain must not be arms dealer of choice for repressive regimes

The Liberal Democrats have warned post-Brexit Britain must not become the "arms dealer of choice" for repressive regimes, after Michael Fallon said the UK should increase arms exports after Brexit.

It comes after Liberal Democrat research revealed that in the past year, the UK has sold £1.2bn of military equipment to countries listed by the government as having poor human rights records, including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Myanmar.

In total the UK has sold arms to 25 of the 29 states listed as "human rights priority countries" in the Foreign Office's annual Human Rights and Democracy report.

The top countries receiving UK arms were Saudi Arabia (£300m), China (£250m) and Russia (£191m).

Myanmar was sold over £900,000 of equipment by the UK, including £500,000 of military equipment between January and March 2017.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“The UK should be leading the way in ensuring deadly weapons are not sold to countries that violate human rights such as Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Venezuela.

“Instead, the Conservatives seem determined to turn post-Brexit Britain into the arms dealer of choice for dodgy dictators and repressive regimes.

“Selling more weapons abroad will not compensate for the economic harm caused by an extreme Brexit. It will only do more damage to the UK’s standing in the world.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Shock Toyota Brexit statement

The Liberal Democrats have attacked the government's "car-crash Brexit" after Toyota said it might shift production out of the UK due to the Conservative Brexit government allegedly withdrawing assurances that Britain would continue to enjoy tariff-free access to the single market post-Brexit.

Toyota announced £240m plans in March to begin upgrading its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire after apparently receiving written assurances from the government that car exports from Britain would not attract duty.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

"The Conservatives are leading us to a car-crash Brexit. Ministers must come before the House to explain this dramatic and worrying change of heart from Toyota. We must see the written assurances ministers first gave the car company, and we must hear whether ministers can still assure manufacturers that Britain will continue to enjoy full and unfettered access to the single market and customs union post-Brexit.

"These are real jobs and real homes of real people under threat because ministers still don't have a coherent negotiating position.

"If major companies such as Toyota are worried, the British people should be worried. That is why the Liberal Democrats, alone among the major parties, will fight to the very last ditch to stay in the single market and customs union."

Govt accused of "sinister power grab" after committees vote

The Liberal Democrats have accused Theresa May of a "sinister power grab," after the Conservatives won a vote to give themselves a majority on powerful parliamentary committees.

The controversial change will give the government the means to force through legislation, including on Brexit.

A Liberal Democrat amendment was defeated, with the government winning with a majority of 20.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael commented:

"This is a sinister power grab by an increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister.

"The Tories didn't win a majority at the election, but are now hijacking parliament to try and impose their extreme Brexit on the country.

"It is a bitter irony that Brexiteers who spent their careers championing parliamentary sovereignty have now chosen to sell it down the river.

"This wilful eroding of parliament's ability to scrutinise legislation sets a deeply worrying precedent.

"It is now incumbent on all MPs to work together to hold this government to account."