Thursday, October 31, 2019

Labour’s spending plans can’t be squared with the cost of Brexit

Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Ed Davey has warned that Labour’s spending plans are totally undermined by Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to Brexit with its huge hit to growth and tax revenue. He said:

“Jeremy Corbyn wants to spend, spend, spend whilst still pursuing his own form of costly Brexit. Any form of Brexit will make Britain’s economy weaker and people poorer, meaning much less tax revenue for the Treasury.

“Corbyn simply can’t square these spending promises with his Brexit policy and the cost of Brexit.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit - so we can boost our economy, invest in our public services and build a brighter future for our whole country."

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Government must act to ensure a tragedy such as Grenfell never happens again

Responding to the official report into the Grenfell Tower fire, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kensington Sam Gyimah MP said:

"Grenfell was a tragedy that should never have happened but the Government have already failed to take action time and again.

"The actions of individual firefighters on the night were incredibly brave, but we cannot ignore the effect cuts to the fire service have had not only in their quality of service but their ability to make sure changes are made so that any failures will not be repeated.

"There is also a systemic lack of accountability and enforcement within current building regulations. This must be properly tackled if we are to see fundamental change in building safety. There must be a complete and comprehensive re-evaluation and we must also enforce strict sanctions on those who flout construction safety standards.

"The Conservative government must now move swiftly to ensure all high rise buildings are safe to live in. The Government must fully fund the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding by councils and housing associations, but also they cannot ignore those in private residential buildings. Grants should be provided so the cost isn’t passed onto tenants; the Government can be reimbursed later. The priority must be people’s safety.

"It is time the Conservative Government acted so that a tragedy such as Grenfell never happens again."

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Government meltdown over Brexit coins

Responding to news that the commemorative 50p coins minted to mark Brexit on 31 October will now be melted down, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Brexit said: 

"This meltdown is symbolic of the waste that is Brexit.

"These coins were commissioned simply to prop up Boris Johnson's ego. The Royal Mint should not have to foot the bill for the Tory Government's failure to meet its self-imposed Brexit deadline. 

"This comes on top of the millions of pounds that Boris Johnson has thrown away on his pointless 'Get Ready for Brexit' propaganda campaign. This is cash that could have been spent on our NHS, our schools and tackling the climate emergency. 

"Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain. We will keep fighting to stop Brexit and give people the final say."

Scrapped Brexit ads just more money down the drain

Commenting on the Government’s announcement that they have paused the ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign, Liberal Democrat shadow Secretary for Brexit, Tom Brake said:
"These adverts were the latest example of the Conservative government pouring money down the drain in reckless pursuit of Boris Johnson’s do-or-die 31st October Brexit deadline.
"The money spent on these adverts could have, and should have, gone into our NHS, our schools, and tackling the climate emergency. Instead it was wasted.
"Brexit is a national embarrassment. It has taken far longer and cost far more than anyone ever said it would. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to stop Brexit. We know that there is no deal as good as the one we have now: in the EU."

Monday, October 28, 2019

Swinson sets out plan for December 9th General Election

Yesterday the Liberal Democrats announced that they will propose a Bill to amend the Fixed Term Parliament Act to hold a General Election on Monday December 9th.

The plan, which is backed by the SNP, would amend the Fixed Term Parliaments Act to set the date of the next General Election, with Parliament being dissolved on Thursday following its passage this week.

As this is a simple Bill, it would require only a simple majority, as opposed to the two thirds majority required under the normal FTPA legislation.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

"Boris Johnson has missed his 'do-or-die' deadline and is now asking Parliament to give him a General Election and time for him to ram through his Brexit Bill through Parliament. That is a bad deal, and Liberal Democrats will not vote for it.

"We need to get Boris Johnson out of office, unlock the gridlock in Parliament and give people the chance to vote to stay in the EU. A general election on our proposed timetable would take no-deal off the table, and give the public the chance to elect a Liberal Democrat Government who will revoke Article 50 or increase the number of MPs who support a People's Vote.

"The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and have led the campaign to stay in the EU for the last three years."


The full text of the Bill can be seen here

●    The Bill amends the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 to insert the next date for a Parliamentary General Election as December 9th 2019.

●    The Bill only comes into force if the EU offer an extension to at least 31st January 2020, and the timetable means that Boris Johnson cannot bring back his European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and try to force it through Parliament.

●    This mechanism also means Parliament controls the date of an election, whereas a vote of no confidence would allow Boris Johnson to pick the date if an emergency Government could not be formed.

Proposed timeline 
Tuesday (29th) – House of Commons considers all stages of the Bill
Wednesday (30th) – House of Lords considers all stages of the Bill
Thursday (31st) – Royal Assent, with dissolution of Parliament immediately after.
Monday (4th Nov) – Start of the regulated period/25 days
Monday (9th Dec) – Polling day

Friday, October 25, 2019

Swinson: PM trying to distract from government failure

Responding to the announcement that the Conservative Government will table a motion for a General Election on Monday, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“Boris Johnson is trying to distract from his government's failure. He has missed his do-or-die deadline and is now demanding that Parliament give him a General Election and the time to ram through his Bill without proper scrutiny.

“The Liberal Democrats will not support any election until it is clear that we can avoid crashing out with no deal, and that needs an extension from the EU.

“The Liberal Democrats have consistently campaigned for a People’s Vote as we believe that is the best way to end the Brexit impasse. The failure of Jeremy Corbyn to back us on a People’s Vote today means we have missed the chance to deliver it so far in this Parliament."

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

PM must come clean on legality of MP intelligence probes

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Prime Minister and demanded that he confirm if the Conservative Government has sanctioned any intelligence gathering or surveillance on MPs and, if so, on what legal basis.
The calls follow briefings from a Downing Street source that the government was working on "extensive investigations into Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Hilary Benn and their involvement with foreign powers and the funding of their activities".
Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna warned that Downing Street's behaviour was designed to "suppress dissent" and has written to Boris Johnson seeking clarity.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna said:
“In order to ensure Parliament can scrutinise HM Government’s foreign policy and hold Ministers to account for their actions, it is vital for MPs from opposition parties to have dialogue with other governments. It informs our work for the British public, free from interference by HM Government.
“If Boris Johnson’s Government has sanctioned an intelligence probe into these links, it would represent an attack on our constitution and our democracy. Not only is the legality questionable but the mere threat of this action amounts to the harassment and intimidation of MPs which one associates with authoritarian regimes, not mature democracies.”

Monday, October 21, 2019

Jo Swinson appoints new MPs to Shadow Cabinet

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson has today announced an expanded Shadow Cabinet.
New MPs Luciana Berger and Phillip Lee will take on Health, Wellbeing and Social Care and Justice respectively. Angela Smith has been appointed Shadow Secretary of State for International Development while Sam Gyimah will shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“As we enter a crucial few days for the future of our country, I am delighted to announce the new Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet.

“This team will take the fight to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, and offer a brighter future that neither of their old, tired parties can offer.

“The Liberal Democrats are the strongest Remain party and I look forward to working with this fantastic team to fight to keep the UK in the EU.”

The revised Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet is thus:

Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet
Jo SwinsonLeader
Ed DaveyChancellor of the Exchequer
Deputy Leader
Chuka UmunnaForeign and Commonwealth Affairs
International Trade + President of the Board of Trade
Christine JardineHome Department
Women and Equalities
Deputy Chief Whip
Tom BrakeDuchy of Lancaster (prep for No Deal)
Exiting the European Union
Phillip LeeJustice
Jamie StoneDefence
Luciana BergerHealth, Wellbeing and Social Care
Sam GyimahBusiness, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Layla MoranEducation
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Wera HobhouseClimate Emergency, Environment & Food
Tim FarronWork and Pensions
Housing, Communities and Local Government
North of England
Alistair CarmichaelChief Whip
Northern Ireland
Jane DoddsWales
Rural Affairs
Angela SmithInternational Development
Vince CableMinister for Cabinet Office
Catherine BearderEuropean Parliament
Siobhan BenitaLondon
Willie RennieScottish Parliament
Kirsty WilliamsNational Assembly for Wales
Caroline PidgeonLondon Assembly
Dick NewbyLeader of Lords
Sal BrintonPresident

*Please note that Norman Lamb and Sarah Wollaston will attend relevant Shadow Cabinet meetings but given their roles as Chairs of respective Select Committees they will not take a formal Shadow Cabinet role. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Car firm job losses show Johnson's disregard for British business

Responding to the reports that one in three car firms are cutting jobs, Liberal Democrat shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

"It is time Boris Johnson woke up to the fact that the manufacturing sector, and the automotive industries in particular, are suffering badly from Brexit-related uncertainty. Jobs are being lost, investment is down sharply, and confidence is low.

"Brexit will be disastrous for British business, but the Conservative Government know this. They simply don't care. We know Boris Johnson's disregard for business, but we must be clear that this will mean people right across the country losing their livelihoods. Liberal Democrats demand better.

"The only route out of this mess is to stop Brexit. The best deal possible is the one we already have as members of the European Union and the one Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for."

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Lib Dems table People's Vote amendment to Queen's speech

Today, the Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen's speech to put any deal that comes back from Brussels to a People's Vote.

If selected, this amendment would be voted on early next week.

Following tabling the amendment, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and have been the leading voice in the People’s Vote campaign. 

“Boris Johnson is determined to have a general election, but the best way to resolve the Brexit chaos is to have a People’s Vote and give the British people the final say about their future.

“The best deal we have is as members of the European Union and we want to give the people the chance to choose to stop Brexit.”

Swinson: Queen’s speech is a charade

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson has slammed yesterday's Queen’s speech as nothing more that a "charade." Jo Swinson said: 

"This Queen’s speech is a charade.
"‘Boris Johnson is pursuing a Brexit deal that will be hugely damaging for our economy, our NHS and our security.
"There is nothing in this Queen’s speech that will bring comfort to the factory worker set to lose their job, or the families struggling to put food on the table because of his Brexit policy.
"The Liberal Democrats want to stop Brexit, and keep the best deal we have as members of the European Union."

Moran: FIFA and UEFA must take action against racist abuse of players

Responding to reports of racist chants by fans at the Bulgaria vs England match, Liberal Democrat Shadow DCMS Secretary Layla Moran said:

"It is appalling to see players subjected to this kind of abuse and discrimination.

"There is a long way to go in some areas regarding equality and inclusivity, and it is entirely right that tonight our players and staff have stood up for the values we hold here in our society.

"Both Fifa and UEFA need to take serious action against anyone found to be abusing players, and if necessary, punish countries by playing their matches behind closed doors or banning teams. This behaviour can not be tolerated."

Monday, October 14, 2019

Labour's renationalisition plans set to cost billions

Responding to the analysis by the CBI that the cost of Labour's re-nationalisation plans is estimated to be £196 billion, Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna said:

"The Tories are pursuing an ideological hard Brexit, depriving the Exchequer of much needed revenue, whilst Labour plans to do the same with a Labour Brexit in addition to spending billions of pounds with no idea how they will pay for it.

"The only sensible alternative to these two broken parties is to stop Brexit and use the resulting Remain bonus to invest in people and public services - the Liberal Democrat choice."

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Compulsory voter ID is an attempt to rig our elections

Responding to the reports that the Government are set to announce it will be compulsory for voters to show identification at the next election, Liberal Democrat shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Tom Brake said:

“The move by the Government to make voter ID compulsory is a thinly-veiled attempt to rig the results of future elections. We know from the pilot back in 2018 that voter fraud was inconsequential, whilst what the pilot did do was turn away a disproportionate number of vulnerable voters.

"Boris Johnson is clearly taking a leaf out of Trump's playbook by using false claims about voter fraud to suppress turnout.

“The trial was deemed a waste of time and of the public’s money, and this roll-out will be no different. The Conservative Government have already showed disdain for our democracy and this move is simply further confirmation of that.

“Rather than electioneering by making it harder to vote, the Conservative Government should be focusing on ways to encourage democratic participation, such as through extending voting rights to 16 year olds.”

UK government must ban arms sales to Turkey

Today, the Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservative Government to ban all arm sales to Turkey.

Following the human rights violations in Syria, Chuka Umunna, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, said:

“It is clear that there have been human rights violations against the Kurdish people in Syria. It is only right that the UK now bans any export of arms that could be used by Turkey in Syria.

“It has long been Liberal Democrat policy to oppose arm sales to those who commit human rights violations and the situation in Syria is no different. The Conservative government must join our European allies in suspending sales immediately. The UK cannot be complicit in Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurdish people.

“The Tory government must also do all they can to help stabilise the region and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. Boris Johnson must urge President Trump to rethink his withdrawal from the region. The UK government has a responsibility to do all it can to stop any further atrocities.”

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Threats to deport EU citizens are appalling


Responding to comments by Brandon Lewis that EU citizens living in the UK could face deportation, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

“I am absolutely appalled. I have just been at a school where a Hungarian-born pupil told me she was scared about Brexit, and now I learn that the Conservative Government is threatening to deport people like her.
“Brandon Lewis has finally confirmed what we’ve known all along: Boris Johnson has no intention of keeping his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
“No one seriously believes the Home Office will have granted Settled Status to all 3.6 million EU citizens by the Conservatives’ arbitrary December 2020 deadline. Thousands will inevitably be left effectively undocumented – and now the Government is saying it will deport them.
“That is totally unacceptable. EU citizens are our friends and neighbours, our carers and families, and Liberal Democrats demand better for them. That’s why we’re fighting to stop Brexit and prevent another Windrush-style scandal.”


Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Tories cannot call themselves the law and order party

Responding to the speech by Priti Patel at Conservative party conference, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

“It takes some gall for Priti Patel to describe the Conservatives as the party of law and order.
“This Conservative Government has just been found to have acted unlawfully by the Supreme Court. Now Boris Johnson is now threatening to break the law again by refusing to extend Article 50.
“If the Tories want to talk about law and order, they should start by following the law and ruling out a disastrous no-deal Brexit that their own analysis shows will lead to a rise in public disorder.”

'Out of touch' Tories plough money into roads despite people and planet crying out for public transport investment


Following Sajid Javid's announcement of £25bn investment in roads, Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, said:
“Just as people are starting to become aware of the damage we’re doing to our planet, the Conservatives have committed to spending £25 billion on roads. Given the government claim to be serious about tackling our clean air crisis and the climate emergency, this announcement is a slap in the face for the planet.

"Instead we should focus our energy on improving alternative modes of transport – spending the money on better and safer cycling networks, footpaths, and green public transport. 

“The Tories have also pledged just £220 million for buses – that’s less than 1% of the money promised. A drop in the ocean for what is really needed to transform bus services. Clearly for the Tories that the car is king. 

“Liberal Democrats demand better. Liberal Democrats would significantly increase spending on public transport, reversing damaging Tory cuts to rail upgrades and give local authorities more powers to improve local transport solutions for a carbon zero future. We are the only the party who have a clear plan  to tackle air pollution and ending the climate crisis.”

Rise in homeless deaths demands end of Vagrancy Act

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has renewed her call for the Vagrancy Act to be scrapped following the publication of new ONS statistics revealing a rise in the deaths of homeless people in 2018.

The ONS data show that there were an estimated 726 deaths in 2018, an increase of over 20% on the previous year. The highest numbers of deaths were recorded in the North West (77) and in London (110).

Layla Moran said:

“These figures are simply shocking. Clearly it takes more than a rough sleeping strategy document and the creation of a Minister for Homelessness to fix this epidemic. We should all be deeply ashamed that this is getting even worse.

“This out of sight, out of mind mentality needs to stop now. People are dying, and we need to take a more compassionate approach to ending this homelessness crisis. We must protect the most vulnerable people in our society, but instead the Tories are sitting on their hands.

“We first need to scrap the cruel, Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which criminalises rough sleeping. The Conservatives are more than welcome to bring back my Bill that would repeal it in a heartbeat.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We would also build up to 100,000 social homes a year to provide the accommodation and support people need.”