Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Rise in arms sales to Saudi Arabia shows Tory disregard for law and lives

Responding to a report from Oxfam revealing that the value of UK arms licensed to members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the five years since the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) came into effect is 45 per cent higher than the preceding five years, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

“The regime of Saudi Arabia is an enemy of British values. Their persistent violation and disregard for human rights and the rule of law should have led the Conservative Government to halt arms sales long ago.

“It was just earlier this year that the Court of Appeal ruled that the Tory Government had acted unlawfully in licensing the sale of UK-made arms for use in Yemen without assessing whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law.

“Since then the Conservatives have breached this ruling in a blatant disregard for not only British law, but for the lives of innocent civilians lost thanks to the brutal Saudi regime.

“The Liberal Democrats have long called on the UK government to suspend UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to their consistent targeting of civilians. When will the Conservatives gain some humanity and listen?”

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Cobham sale is deeply concerning

Responding to news that the government has now approved the sale of UK defence and aerospace company Cobham to a US private equity firm, Ed Davey MP, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

"It is deeply concerning that the Conservative government is allowing this sale to go ahead, despite previously cited concerns that it could undermine our national security. While Andrea Leadsom claims these concerns have been 'mitigated', we have yet to see evidence of this. 

"If Boris Johnson's government are happy to sell off a leading UK defence and aerospace company to Trump's America, how can we expect his government to protect our defence and manufacturing sectors, not to mention every other sector of our economy, as they negotiate trade deals after Brexit?"

Friday, December 20, 2019

Home Office defeat in High Court shows need to fix immigration system

Responding to yesterday’s High Court judgment declaring the Home Office’s £1,012 fee for registering a child as a British citizen unlawful, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“We owe congratulations and thanks to the campaigners who brought this case on behalf of children who are being denied their rights by these outrageous, extortionate Home Office fees.

“I’ve almost lost count of the number of times this Conservative Government’s immigration policies have been ruled unlawful.

“Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money defending their bad decisions in the courts, Home Office Ministers should get on with fixing our immigration system so everyone is treated with dignity and the public can have confidence that it is fair and effective.”

Boris Johnson's damaging agenda for UK

Responding to the Queen's Speech, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

“Boris Johnson’s government have set out a disastrous agenda which will force through a hard Brexit, undermine our public services, destroy opportunities for our communities and cripple living standards. Brexit will hinder our ability to safeguard our NHS and reduce our capacity to tackle the climate crisis. 

“The fact that radical climate action has been ignored is a hallmark of a government which is setting all the wrong priorities. Boris Johnson has the votes to secure much-needed legislation to reduce emissions by insulating our homes, investing in renewables and increasing uptake of electric vehicles, but he clearly doesn’t care about our planet. 

“The Liberal Democrats will continue to scrutinise this Conservative government, hold Boris Johnson to account and fight for the liberal, inclusive, compassionate society we want to see.”

Thursday, December 19, 2019

New figures show 2.3 million EU citizens without Settled Status

The Liberal Democrats have warned that the Conservatives are failing to guarantee the rights of all 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK, as new official figures show just over a third EU citizens have been given Settled Status by the end of November.
The latest EU Settlement Scheme Statistics, published on Tuesday by the Home Office, show more than 140,000 EU citizens applied to live and work in the UK after Brexit in November compared to more than half a million submitted in October.
The Liberal Democrats have also raised concerns over the number of applicants receiving neither Settled or Pre-Settled Status. Today’s figures show 361,900 people are still waiting for a decision, with 2,592,800 applications received but only 2,230,900 concluded.
Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:
“Too many EU nationals are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in our health service and our schools. It’s disgraceful for the Conservative government to leave them in legal limbo like this.
“Boris Johnson continues to break his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens in law. Thousands of EU citizens are set to miss out on Settled Status and be left vulnerable to the Tories’ Hostile Environment.
“The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for EU citizens by opposing Brexit. We will fight to guarantee their rights to live and work in the UK.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Government’s approach to homelessness isn’t working

The Liberal Democrats have today renewed calls for “a more compassionate and holistic approach” to tackling homelessness following the publication of new government statistics today which revealed an 11.4% rise in households assessed as either homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

“The continuing rise in homeless households shows that this Conservative Government’s approach just isn’t working. It is simply unacceptable.

“We urgently need to take a more compassionate and holistic approach, across government, to tackling this crisis in our communities. Given the clear connection between a history of mental health problems and homelessness, any solution must involve better mental health provision.

“We also need to scrap the Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which continues to criminalise rough sleeping for those who fall through the safety net and end up on the streets.

“As Christmas approaches and the weather gets colder, I hope this serves as a wake-up call to the Tories. We can and must do better.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Disgraced Brexit Party founder backing Johnson shows how far the Tories have sunk

Responding to the news that Catherine Blaiklock, the disgraced Brexit Party founder who quit over her Islamophobic public statements, is backing Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Ed Davey said:

"Catherine Blaiklock joins a long list of unsavoury characters, including Tommy Robinson, who are now backing Boris Johnson.

"The fact that Sir John Major, Michael Heseltine and others are urging voters to keep the Tories out of power shows quite how far this Conservative Party has sunk. 

"Thursday is the last chance to stop Boris Johnson, stop Brexit and build a brighter future by voting Liberal Democrat."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Question Time debate shows Jo Swinson is a next generation leader

Following the BBC's Young People's Question Time programme, Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, said: 

"Tonight Jo Swinson proved - yet again - that she is the next generation leader this country needs. 

"Jo could not be more of a contrast to Corbyn and Johnson - two men who are willing to trash our future, yet couldn't even be bothered to turn up tonight to answer young people's questions. Meanwhile Angela Rayner made it crystal clear that the Labour party won't lift a finger to stop Brexit. 

"Jo is leading the only party with an ambitious plan to empower young people. A Liberal Democrat government will stop Brexit, tackle the climate emergency before it's too late, and invest in creating the homes, the education service and the inclusive society that so many young people want to see.

"Times have changed and we need a leader that's changed with them. While Labour and the Tories are stuck in the past, the Liberal Democrats have bold plans to build a brighter future." 

Swinson warns of Johnson threat to human rights

To mark Human Rights Day, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson has said:
"Human rights are under threat at this election.
"Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would rip up protections for workers’ rights and children’s rights, while his manifesto threatens our Human Rights Act itself.
"Liberal Democrats have always stood up for human rights, whether it was ending child detention in immigration centres, opposing the Snoopers’ Charter or introducing same-sex marriage.
"Liberal Democrats stopped the Conservatives from scrapping the Human Rights Act before, and we will stop them again now. We are the only party that can win seats from the Conservatives and deny Boris Johnson a majority.
"Every vote for the Liberal Democrats on Thursday is a vote to stop Boris, stop Brexit and build a brighter future, where human rights are protected and everyone’s dignity is respected."

Lib Dems are listening to Gen Z's climate emergency fears

Responding to an Amnesty International survey showing that young people view climate change as one of the most important issues facing the world, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse said:

“Gen Z have been shouting it in the streets: the climate emergency is one of the most important issues we have ever faced. It’s real and we have to act now.

“Young people shouldn't have to strike from school to get the Tories to listen to their concerns. The Conservatives are climate delayers and are complacent in the face of a crisis. The Liberal Democrats are listening. We have a credible plan to tackle the climate emergency. We will spend £100 billion pounds to generate 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030, retrofit all homes by 2025, and planting 60 million trees a year to increase UK forest cover.

"The Liberal Democrats will make tackling the climate emergency an absolute priority. We have to act now to build a brighter future for our planet.”

Monday, December 09, 2019

Business backs the Liberal Democrats

Ready meal entrepreneur Charlie Bigham and former President of the CBI Sir Michael Rake are among a raft of business leaders who are supporting the Liberal Democrats.

In addition, entrepreneurs and founders of some of modern Britain’s best brands, including Superdry, Lovefilm, Zoopla, New Covent Garden Soup, Big Yellow Group, and eBookers, are among more than 60 business leaders who have written a letter naming the Liberal Democrats as the ‘only party who have set out a credible plan for future prosperity’.

Charlie Bigham, founder of the eponymous ready-meal brand, said:

“I know a thing or two about oven-ready, and it’s clear that Johnson’s Brexit plan is no such thing.
“This Conservative Party now care more about ideology than prosperity. They have lost the credibility to call themselves the party of business because we know any form of Brexit will make it more difficult to do business in the UK.
“I’m joining dozens of entrepreneurs and businessmen, as well as the Economist, in supporting the Liberal Democrats whose plans for business and the economy are the best on offer.”
Sir Michael Rake, former President of the CBI, said in a letter to the Financial Times:
“The Liberal Democrats have ploughed a lonely furrow in being the only party truly reflecting the interests and importance of the business community to a successful inclusive economy. They have also been clear and honest about the damage, economically and reputationally, being caused to our country by Brexit. 
"Jo Swinson’s party has engaged with businesses and put forward a credible manifesto which addresses the major issues identified by business groups such as reforming business rates, investing in infrastructure and ensuring firms have access to skilled labour."
Sam Gyimah, Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Secretary, said:
“At election time they say ‘it’s the economy, stupid’, but this time the two main parties have opted for stupid economics instead, whether that’s pursuing Brexit that we know will damage the economy or a reckless spending plan we can’t afford.
“Business leaders and entrepreneurs recognise that Liberal Democrats are now the natural party for business. We’re offering a credible plan that will create an environment to help business build prosperity and create jobs, underpinned by a stronger economy within the EU.”

Brexit leak on Northern Ireland checks shows Johnson is lying to the public

Responding to a leaked document from the Department for Exiting the EU on potential goods checks between Northern Ireland and Britain after Brexit, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

"These documents show Boris Johnson is hiding the truth about the damage his Brexit plans would do to our family of nations.

"He has lied to the Queen, lied to Parliament and now he's lying to the public.

"If Boris Johnson gets a majority, the Brexit chaos will drag on for years to come as it's clear major issues like the Irish Border will remain unsolved.

"Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Boris, stop Brexit and invest the £50 billion pound Remain Bonus in our public services."

Johnson refusing to look at picture of sick child shows mask has slipped

Responding to the footage of Boris Johnson refusing to look at a picture of a sick child lying on a hospital floor, Liberal Democrat Welfare Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

"This is the moment the mask slipped.  When confronted with the human impact of his government's failure to properly fund our NHS, Boris Johnson chose to look away.

"This shocking lack of empathy shows why Johnson is not fit be prime minister. He simply doesn't care about patients or their families being catastrophically let down by this Conservative government. It is unacceptable that hospitals are under so much pressure that they don’t have enough beds - especially for small children."

Local Liberal Democrats added: "If he thinks that little about the victims of the English NHS cuts, what chance does Wales stand?"

Labour's first 100 days plans are built on a fallacy


Commenting on Labour's plans for its first 100 days, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Ed Davey, said: 

“Labour’s plans for its first 100 days are built on a fallacy. They cannot invest vast sums in our public services while also subjecting our country to greater uncertainty as they pursue a new Brexit deal.

“Their wish-list for Government grows ever longer and longer, but we know that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said their plans aren’t credible and would simply take our country backwards.

“The Liberal Democrats would stop Brexit and use the money from the £50bn Remain Bonus to properly invest in our public services. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to build a brighter future and a fairer society.”

Swinson: Lib Dems will table legislation to stop Brexit immediately after election

Liberal Democrats have urged people to vote for them to "stop Boris and stop Brexit", as they unveil ready-to-go legislation for a People’s Vote as soon as Parliament returns after the election.

The Liberal Democrat plans would introduce two draft bills that together would pave the way to a People's Vote on Brexit. First, a ‘Paving Bill’ which would enable the Electoral Commission to start the necessary consultation around a referendum question and lead campaign designation. Secondly, a full Bill which would provide for a referendum on the deal versus staying in the European Union.
The Liberal Democrats have laid amendments to secure a People's Vote 17 times, and voted in favour of a People’s Vote at every opportunity.
Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson said:
"Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Boris and stop Brexit.
"The more Liberal Democrat MPs we have in Parliament the stronger our hand will be in stopping Boris Johnson and his catastrophic Brexit plans. We have legislation ready to go to secure a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.
"Liberal Democrats are standing up for Remainers everywhere. We have been leading the fight to stop Brexit for over three years and will continue to fight tooth and nail to keep the UK in the EU.
“For the future of our country – vote Liberal Democrat to stop Brexit and build a brighter future."


· The two Bills (click here and here) were drafted by legislative expert Daniel Greenberg, with support from Dr Alan Renwick of the Constitution Unit at UCL, under the supervision of a Reference Group convened by Lord Tyler (Liberal Democrat), including Baroness Quinn (Labour), Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots (Conservative) and Lord Lisvane (Crossbench).
· The work was funded by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Limited.
· Article 50 would need to be extended to ensure a referendum could take place within the 16 week timeframe.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Johnson's immigration crackdown is straight out of Farage's playbook

Responding to the Conservative Party's plans for an immigration crackdown, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

“Boris Johnson is demonising the EU nationals who contribute so much to our NHS, social care and economy. This dog-whistle politics is straight out of Nigel Farage or Donald Trump’s playbook.

“Conservative plans to end free movement would mean fewer EU nurses and care workers, and fewer opportunities for UK citizens to move abroad.

“Neither Johnson or Corbyn are standing up for free movement and for the millions of EU nationals who are our friends, colleagues and neighbours. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Boris, stop Brexit and build a brighter future for the country.”

10 things Boris Johnson has done that are naughtier than cycling on pavements

Following Boris Johnson's interview with Sky's Sophy Ridge, the Liberal Democrats have compiled ten things Boris Johnson has done that are naughtier than cycling on pavements:

  1. Lied to the Queen
  2. Lied about Brexit
  3. Lied about hospitals
  4. Lied about Northern Ireland
  5. Used racist language
  6. Used sexist language
  7. Used homophobic language
  8. Conspired to have a journalist beaten up
  9. Insulted single mothers
  10. Contributed to the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Responding to Boris Johnson's comments, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:

“From lying to the queen to insulting single mothers, Boris Johnson has done far naughtier things than cycling on the pavement. He has tried to laugh off his dismal track record of lying to the public and attacking women and minority groups. But this is no joke.
“Boris Johnson's stumbling answer on Sky’s Sophy Ridge gave an insight into his mindset: dodging, ducking, and diving. He is not fit to be Prime Minister.
"This election is a chance to get rid of Boris Johnson, stop Brexit and build a brighter future, by voting for the Liberal Democrats."

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Almost 1 million businesses close over three years in Brexit hit to high street

Almost one million businesses in the UK have closed in the past three years, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed, showing how Brexit uncertainty under the Conservatives is hitting our high streets.
It comes as the Liberal Democrats today (Saturday 7 December) unveil a series of measures to reverse this decline and boost small businesses, to mark Small Business Saturday.

Figures from the ONS show that 978,285 businesses closed their doors between 2016-2018. This is an increase of almost a third (28%) compared to the 765,000 businesses that closed in the three previous years. 

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that a no deal Brexit, which Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out, would mean more damage to firms. 

Firms are also being held back by the Conservative government's failure to reform business rates, and by new taxes on the self-employed that business groups have described as "disastrous".

The Liberal Democrats would boost small businesses by:
  • Scrapping business rates and replacing them with a new land value tax on landlords
  • Reviewing taxes to help support the self-employed
  • Toughening the prompt payment code to ensure small businesses are paid on time
  • Expanding the Future High Streets Fund to support the redevelopment of more town centres and high streets.
  • Creating a new Start-Up Allowance, to support business owners with their living costs in the crucial first few weeks of starting a business
  • Reforming the apprenticeship levy by creating a wider “Skills and Training Levy” that targets 25% of the funds into areas with the greatest skills needs
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Chuka Umunna, who led the campaign to introduce Small Business Saturday in the UK, said:

“Since its launch in the UK in 2013, Small Business Saturday has been an opportunity to celebrate the hard work of independent small businesses that contribute so much to their local communities. But it’s also a time to consider the challenges being faced by business owners and entrepreneurs who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

“This Conservative government has completely failed small businesses, saddling them with years of Brexit uncertainty and ignoring urgent calls to reform business rates.

“Boris Johnson now wants to plough ahead with crashing the UK out of the EU, which would mean even more damage to businesses up and down the country.

“The Liberal Democrats will rescue our high streets by stopping Brexit, scrapping outdated business rates and introducing more support for entrepreneurs.”

Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Sam Gyimah, said:

“Each business closed represents jobs, investment and opportunities lost to our country.

“Now Boris Johnson's Conservatives want to plunge small businesses into even more uncertainty by pursuing a Brexit plan that risks yet another No Deal cliff edge in December 2020. They have lost any right to call themselves the party of business.

“Liberal Democrats are proud to be a party that supports businesses. We will stop Brexit, get back to the dealing with the issues that really matter to small businesses and build a brighter future.”

Friday, December 06, 2019

Tom Brake: Alexandra Hall Hall's resignation proves the Tories are peddling fantasy on Brexit

Commenting on the news that Alexandra Hall Hall, the Brexit counsellor at the British embassy in Washington, has resigned, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said: 

“Alexandra Hall Hall’s resignation proves what we already knew. The Tories are simply peddling fantasy when it comes to Brexit. 

“They are failing to come clean on the fact that it is going to be nigh-on impossible to negotiate a new trade relationship by December 2020 meaning that the threat of a no-deal Brexit remains very much on the table. 

“Only the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and make sure dedicated public servants such as Ms Hall Hall do not have to quit their jobs in protest at their own government. Our country deserves better.”

Time to move the goalposts on safe standing

The Liberal Democrats have today announced that "it's time to shift the goalposts on safe standing", by introducing safe-standing in top-flight football, offering more choice, a better atmosphere, and cheaper tickets for fans.
Under the party’s proposals, all Premier League and Championship sides could install rail seating in parts of their ground and permit spectators to stand for the entirety of the match in those areas.
Safe standing operates successfully across Europe. Unlike traditional football terraces, each row is separated by a rail to prevent crowd surges and spectators are given a specific place to stand. The Sports Grounds Safety Authority would develop new licensing conditions for grounds and create new guidance on how standing could be introduced safely.
Top-flight clubs such as Watford are already introducing rail seating to make it safer in areas of the ground where fans persistently stand up.
Blackburn Rovers fan and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, Tim Farron said:
“Safe standing provides a hat-trick of benefits to fans – more choice, a better atmosphere, and cheaper tickets.
“It’s time to shift the goalposts on safe standing and give spectators something to cheer about.
“Deadline day is getting closer in this campaign – and only the Liberal Democrats can send Boris Johnson’s Premiership to VAR and stop him from making any last-minute signings.”

Tories refuse to give EU citizens voice on their future

Responding to Conservative claims that it would be "unfair" to allow EU citizens to vote in a People's Vote, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary, Tom Brake said: 

"The Conservatives want to deny EU citizens yet another right: the right to decide their future in the UK. They have been perfectly happy to use EU citizens’ rights as a political football for years yet refuse to give them a say in a potential People's Vote. It's hardly surprising from the party responsible for the Windrush scandal.

"Meanwhile, Labour are hypocritically pandering to EU citizens, telling them they would support their right to vote in a future referendum, while at the same time supporting Brexit. They have shown once again they can't be trusted.

"A Liberal Democrat government will stop Brexit. We will make sure EU citizens continue to feel welcome in their home: the UK. We will continue to protect their rights and give them their voice in any future People's Vote."

Lib Dems to strip out 25% of “toxic” Home Office to prevent another Windrush


The Liberal Democrats have announced today that they will move more than 9,000 members of staff out of the Home Office, under the party’s plans to strip the discredited department of responsibility for immigration and asylum.
Highlighting the Windrush Scandal, the Hostile Environment and the large number of rulings against the Home Office in courts and tribunals, the Liberal Democrats argue that the department is “not fit for purpose” and warned "the Conservatives' chaotic approach to Brexit risks a repeat of the Windrush scandal for EU citizens."

The party’s manifesto commits to stripping the Home Office of responsibility for policy making in relation to work visas, international students and asylum – and handing it to the Departments for Business, Education and International Development respectively.
The Liberal Democrats said that their plans for a “fair, effective immigration system” also include establishing a new arms-length, non-political agency to take over processing visa and asylum applications.

This new agency would be given the staff, training and resources to process applications quickly and fairly, with a focus on getting decisions right first-time and therefore saving time and expense on appeals.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:
“Scandal after scandal has proved that the Home Office is not fit for purpose.
“Decades of hostile policies from Labour and Conservative Home Secretaries have created an immigration system that no one trusts, and that fails to respect people’s dignity. Thousands of people are wrongly refused visas or asylum, causing huge amounts of misery and wasting taxpayers’ money.

"Now the Conservatives' chaotic approach to Brexit risks a repeat of the Windrush scandal for EU citizens. That's why Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit so we can build a brighter future, with a fair, effective immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect.
“We will hand policy-making over to Departments that aren’t infected by the Home Office’s toxic culture, and that far better understand the needs of our economy, our universities, and seekers of sanctuary. And we’ll set up a new agency to decide cases fairly and get them right first time, free from interference by populist politicians.”

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Javid in fantasy land on trade deal negotiations

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

"Who does Sajid Javid think he's kidding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brexit: Leak shows that Boris Johnson is misleading voters

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

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

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

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

Lib Dems to create binding Student Mental Health Charter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tory and Labour migration plans would deepen NHS staffing crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tuesday, December 03, 2019

    Labour's old fashioned approach would destroy jobs

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

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

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

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

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

    Raab admits no-deal Brexit is still on the table

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

    Responding, Shadow Liberal Democrat Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Monday, December 02, 2019

    Disability pay gap just another inequality ignored by Tories


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tory border plans would mean more red tape and bureaucracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran said:

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

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

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

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