Tuesday, September 25, 2018

UK-EU flights could cease in event of a no-deal Brexit

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has warned people face being unable to "go on holiday, visit friends and family, or make necessary business trips" after the Government's no-deal papers revealed UK-EU flights could cease in event of a no-deal Brexit.

Ms Jardine said: 

"In another nod to Victorian Britain, we are facing a situation where flights between the EU and UK could cease because of the Conservative Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit. Most people would be unable to go on holiday, visit friends and family, or make necessary business trips if this happens.
“Theresa May’s posturing is bringing the UK closer to a no-deal Brexit. Meanwhile, Corbyn’s Labour party are aiding and abetting this ideological Brexit. Liberal Democrats demand better. We are the only party fighting to give the people the final say on the deal, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

EU leaders unite against Chequers


Responding to Donald Tusk’s remarks that the Chequers plan will need to be “re-worked and further negotiated” to address trade and Irish border questions, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:
“Theresa May’s Chequers deal was dead on arrival and has now been unequivocally rejected by EU Leaders including Barnier, Juncker and Tusk. The irony for Theresa May is that so far the only consensus she has created about Brexit is that Chequers is unworkable.
“There are fewer than 200 days to go until exit day and still the Conservatives have made no real progress on key problems thrown up by Brexit, including the Irish border. It beggars belief.
“There is not a single deal this Tory Government can do that will be better than what we have inside the EU. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the people the final say on the deal, including the option to remain in the EU.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Home Office betraying Windrush generation again

Responding to reports that the Government has begun refusing applications for UK citizenship from some of those applying in the wake of the Windrush scandal, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The Windrush scandal was caused by Home Office hostility and inflexibility.
“People who’d been living here perfectly legally for decades were detained and even deported because they couldn’t produce documentation going back 45 years. If people are now being refused citizenship for the same reasons, that would be totally unacceptable.
“But we’re being asked to trust that same Home Office to get it right. And those who are refused get the right to a review… by the Home Office!
“Liberal Democrats demand better. Responsibility for processing applications should be moved out of the Home Office altogether, into a dedicated, non-political unit. Applicants should be treated humanely and be given the support they need to prove their right to citizenship.”

Monday, September 17, 2018

Liberal Democrats demand international treaty on plastics

The Liberal Democrats have today demanded the Government initiate negotiations within the UN for a legally binding international treaty on plastics.

The treaty, set out at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, would encompass phased reductions in the production, consumption and trade of virgin feedstock.

It would also include a financial mechanism providing aid and capacity-building assistance to developing countries.

Speaking after the debate, Tim Farron said: 

 “The problem with plastics is not only on our shores. It is a problem that impacts the environment, communities and wildlife across the globe. 

"The Government therefore has a duty to lead from the front and start weaning the world off plastics. But instead of leadership on the environment, all this Conservative Government offers is empty words. 

"Liberal Democrats demand better. That is why we are calling for real international action to save our environment from the scourge of single-use plastics."

Lib Dem conference adopts plans to abolish business rates

Today at conference, Liberal Democrats have voted for a comprehensive plan for replacing the broken business rates system.

The motion based on the report – Taxing Land, Not Investment – calls for the abolition of business rates and its replacement with a tax on land values, the Commercial Landowner Levy (CLL). The levy would remove buildings and machinery from calculations and tax only the land value of commercial sites, boosting investment and cutting taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities.
Key recommendations from the motion include:
  • Business rates should be abolished and replaced by a Commercial Landowner Levy based on the value of commercial land only
  • The levy should be paid by owners rather than tenants
  • Non-residential stamp duty should be scrapped to improve the efficiency of the commercial property market
  • Commercial land should be taxed regardless of whether the buildings above it are occupied; the tax should also apply to unused and derelict commercial land
The full report can be found as a pdf here.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 
“Business rates were a badly designed policy to begin with and have become an unacceptable drag on our economy. They are a tax on productive investment at a time of chronically weak productivity growth, and a burden on high streets struggling to adapt to the rise of online retail.

“Many of the areas around the country that voted for Brexit feel they have been left behind. In place of policies the Brexiters offer only rhetoric. Great swathes of the country demand better, and this policy offers change to the manufacturing industry and the small towns passed over by economic growth.”

Founder of the Liberal Democrat Business and Entrepreneurs Network Andrew Dixon said:

“By only taxing land and not the productive capital above it, this reform would remove a major disincentive to investment, boosting productivity and contributing to a necessary revival in UK industry. While separate action is needed to ensure online retailers pay their fair share of corporation tax, our proposals would offer a lifeline to struggling high streets.

“I am delighted to support this initiative which I believe would boost business and enterprise across the UK, and I am grateful to members of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network for their valuable contributions to this important research”

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gove leaving the table as the rest of Europe digs in

Responding to the publication of the Government's Agriculture Bill, Tim Farron, former Lib Dem leader and Environment Spokesperson, said:
“The ambition in this bill can only be achieved if it is matched with funding, at the very least the current funding we receive from the EU – around £4 billion – must be maintained in order for Michael Gove’s aims to be achieved.

There has been no indication that the same level of funding will be matched by the Treasury after 2022. Without this spending, the farming industry will struggle to adapt to the new regime and we will see many farms going out of business. 
“It also would be far better for the environment if Mr Gove was sat round the table with 27 other countries trying to reform the Common Agricultural Policy together, rather than the UK having to leave the EU in order to achieve his aims.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

Brexit kicks London off the Top Financial spot

Responding yesterday to a report from the Z/YEN Global Financial Centres Index announcing London has been overtaken by New York as the top Financial Centre, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said: 

"There is remarkable complacency in some parts of the City of London - and among Brexiter politicians - about their future and how they can adapt to Brexit no matter what. But they face intense competition from Asia, the US, and now mainland Europe. It's going to be an uphill struggle for the City to maintain its status as a world-leading financial centre.
“The Chequers white paper, already dismissed by both the EU and the hard-Brexiters, contained no serious proposals to safeguard the future of the financial sector. Meanwhile the increasing probability of a no-deal Brexit will accelerate financial services firms’ plans to shift activity abroad.

“There is a solution to this mess. The Liberal Democrats are fighting for a final say on the deal, with the option to remain in the EU. That is the only way to ensure that London’s financial sector continues to lead the global pack.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Disaster could unfold in our rural areas and Gov are unprepared

Commenting on today's report by the National Audit Office which shows that the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs is unprepared for a no-deal Brexit, Tim Farron, Lib Dem spokesperson for the Environment said: 

“What a shock, the National Audit Office has declared DEFRA unprepared for a possible no deal Brexit, tell us something we didn’t know. And now, we know the full scale of the disaster that could unfold.

"If we crash out without a deal the UK could well not be able to export animal products, enforce control over our fishing waters nor export chemical products to the rest of the EU.

"This is why the Government desperately need to rule out the no deal option and why the people deserve to have the final say on the deal, and an opportunity to Exit from Brexit.”

Govt must act now to stem Defence skills shortages

Commenting on today's report from the Public Accounts Committee into skills shortages within the armed forces, Liberal Democrat member of the PAC, who was one of those leading this inquiry, Layla Moran said:
“The findings of our inquiry are really shocking. Despite a huge shortfall in staff and skills, the Government hasn’t got a grip on what needs to be done to recruit more skilled specialists into the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, and to keep the ones we already have.
“To add insult to injury, the Government’s disastrous approach to Brexit threatens to make the problem worse as skilled technicians, engineers and specialists from across the EU look to work elsewhere rather than in post-Brexit Britain.
“The Government must act now to put a plan in place to recruit more skilled staff, improve conditions for existing staff and make sure people can easily come to work in our armed services after Brexit.
“Our serving armed forces personnel and the people of Britain that they serve and protect deserve better than this.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We need to keep Britain safe, without destroying our freedoms

The Liberal Democrats are proud to have taken a stand against the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill which has tonight passed through the House of Commons with a 376 - 10 majority. Commenting on the decision of the party to stand against the Bill, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The Liberal Democrats are determined to combat terrorism and support action that will keep Britain safe. But the Government has failed to provide evidence that most of these new laws will help in the fight against terrorists.
”This Bill does little to fight terrorism, and a lot to destroy our freedoms.
”The Liberal Democrats demand better. We’re standing up for civil liberties and calling for a real, evidence-based response to the threat of terrorism that actually makes us safer.”

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trade Bill marks doomed voyage into the great unknown

Speaking ahead of the Trade Bill returning to the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords Dick Newby said:
“Brexit means the UK abandoning not only the world’s largest trading bloc but also every free trade deal that the EU has ever negotiated with other countries.
“No one voted for this. No one voted for a rise in uncertainty and a fall in economic growth. But that is what the Tories, with Labour falling in behind, are delivering.
“Liberal Democrats remain firmly opposed to this discredited Bill, not least because it doesn’t stop the Government from implementing future trade deals by the back door. It marks the start of the UK’s doomed voyage into the great unknown.
“That is why Liberal Democrats continue fighting for the public to have the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Progress still to be made on tenant rights

Speaking after the Tenant Fees Bill progressed through the House of Commons last night, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:
“Tenant fees are often unreasonable, lack transparency and make the upfront costs of moving extortionate. People should not be punished for moving home. That is why Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a ban on tenant fees.

"While Government amendments did attempt to close the loopholes in this Bill, the language remains ambiguous on what constitutes a “reasonable cost”. Moreover, without sufficient funding, local authorities will struggle to enforce the ban.
“Progress can and must therefore be made on tenant rights. Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for government-backed loans to help people afford a tenancy deposit, and for tighter regulation in the private rented sector to stop rogue landlords.”

Brexit threatens our safety

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP has warned that Brexit will "remove the tools our police need to keep us safe" following the publication of a report today by the Institute for Government.

The report, titled ''Negotiating Brexit: policing and criminal justice', says the failure to secure a new agreement on policing and criminal justice after Brexit will make it harder to extradite dangerous criminals from the UK and reduce the number of people brought back to Britain to face justice. 

Ed Davey said: 

“The Institute for Government is absolutely right to raise the alarm about Brexit’s effect on crime and policing.

“The Liberal Democrats have long been warning that losing the European Arrest Warrant, information-sharing arrangements and leadership of Europol will make it harder to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice.

“The Conservatives like to talk tough on crime, but their pursuit of a destructive hard Brexit is jeopardising national security and playing into the hands of criminals.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we are fighting to give the people a say on the final deal and opportunity to Exit from a Brexit. We can’t let the Brexit ideologues throw away the tools our police need to keep us safe.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Lib Dems claim victory as ‘Upskirting’ Bill progresses

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse has tonight claimed victory as Parliament moves closer to making ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence.
The Voyeurism Offences Bill, introduced by the Government after the Liberal Democrat Bill was blocked by Tory MP Christopher Chope, passed its third reading in the House of Commons tonight. The Bill is now set to enter the House of Lords.
Wera said:
“I want this Bill to stop the vile practice of ‘upskirting’. It should be a successful tool for prosecution, but it should also act as a deterrent. Zero tolerance, no loopholes.
“This Bill has not only highlighted and sought to rectify a gap in the law, but resulted in further parliamentary debate. Debate on serious issues around non-consensual distribution of pornographic images and the production of deep fakes enabled by new technology.
“I look forward to working hard on these issues. Liberal Democrats continue to campaign to make sure the law protects victims of all sexually motivated malicious behaviour in this country.”

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Javid plans: a derisory response to criminal threats

Commenting on reports that the Home Secretary is planning to extend stop and search powers, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

"We are only going to get a grip on the rise in violent crime by investing in more community police, not by changing laws when there are too few police in the first place. 
“Thinking new stop and search powers will help ignores the evidence, is frankly a derisory response to criminal threats from hi-tech drones and lasers and is a distraction from the real challenge of rebuilding community policing. 
"Only a long term financial commitment to community policing will restore the trust in police that is so vital to fighting crime, whilst a disproportionate use of stop and search can undermine that very trust community police officers rely on.
"Liberal Democrats demand better. Instead of expanding stop and search, the Home Secretary should halt the Conservatives' police cuts, invest in community policing and put more officers on the streets."

Monday, September 03, 2018

Cable: Low manufacturing growth speaks volumes about Brexit uncertainty

Responding to the news that UK manufacturing growth has hit a two year low, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“The world economy is booming. It should be a good time for UK manufacturing, particularly with a weaker pound. The fact it isn’t speaks volumes about the uncertainty being created by the Conservative Government’s incompetent handling of Brexit.
“Both the hard Brexiters – represented by Boris Johnson – and the EU have rejected the Prime Minister’s discredited Chequers compromise. It is clear the only way out of this mess is for the people to have the final say on Brexit, and an opportunity to remain in the EU.”

 The PM is rattled by our movement 

Speaking at the People's Vote rally in Cambridge yesterday, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"The reason Theresa May came out against a final say on the deal is that the government is rattled by our movement. We are the target now.

"Government ministers are telling us that we have a 50% chance of dropping out of the EU and falling off a cliff. Meanwhile the only person who still supports the Chequers deal is the prime minister. The deal is dead.

"Over the coming weeks and months pressure will continue to grow and the government will be forced to go back to the people for a final say on the deal."

Sunday, September 02, 2018

There needs to be a “transparent explanation” for Crossrail delays

Responding to the news that London’s new Crossrail underground line has been delayed by nine months, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said: 
“The news of significant delays to London’s new Crossrail underground line is desperately disappointing. Given the project is already running almost £600m over budget, serious questions must be answered.
“It is therefore essential that the Transport Secretary sets out a full and transparent explanation. With other major projects like HS2 already in trouble, lessons must be learnt urgently.”

Cutting funding for refugees does nothing in the pursuit of peace

Responding to reports that the US will cut funding for Palestinian refugees, Liberal Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"Having seen the work that the UNRWA do for refugees, first hand, I am deeply concerned about the actions of Donald Trump.

"Cutting funding does nothing in the cause for peace and will only act to make the situation worse.

"The international community must continue to support the work of the UNRWA and the UN. The refugees in the West Bank live in a perilous situation. We should be working to make the Middle East safe for all citizens, not dancing to the tune of Trump and Netanyahu."