Friday, May 29, 2020

PM reaches new low in attempt to keep Cummings

Following yesterday's daily coronavirus press conference, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"The press conference today saw the Prime Minister reach a new, sordid low in his defence of Dominic Cummings. By refusing to allow the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer to answer questions, and denying journalists a follow-up question, it became clear that there is little Boris Johnson will not do to try and keep Dominic Cummings in post.

"The fact that the police have confirmed what the public already knew - that Dominic Cummings should not have done what he did - emphasises how Ministers are willing to risk public health at a time when it is crucial, considering this press conference also announced further steps to relax lockdown.

"The measures announced will be a huge comfort to many, but meeting friends, family and loved ones again will be a risk if the Government doesn't ensure the test, trace and isolate strategy is comprehensively in place. The fact the tracing plan has been rushed forward to try and distract from the Cummings saga simply shows what little regard the Government is paying to public health.

"It is time the Government stopped playing politics when so much is at stake."

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The UK has a moral duty to act given Beijing's contempt for the Joint Declaration

Responding to reports that China's legislature has approved a new security law for Hong Kong, which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing's authority in the territory, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: 

“This vote demonstrates Beijing’s contempt for the Joint Declaration. It is an unforgivable move that threatens the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.

“The UK Government must take immediate action. We have a legal and moral duty.

“It is time to urgently reopen the BNO Passport offer and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK.” 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Scrap Vagrancy Act and end rough sleeping for good

Responding to news that £53m will be provided for support services to help rough sleepers in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

"COVID-19 forced the Government to take urgent action to end rough sleeping. I welcome these efforts, but that action should have been taken years ago, as the Liberal Democrats have long-called for. Now we must seize the opportunity to ensure that we never return to the status quo and end rough sleeping for good. 

"The Government must urgently pass legislation to scrap the Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which unfairly penalises people for sleeping rough. Instead we need to support people in finding secure accommodation. The additional funding announced will help, but we need to ensure it is sufficient for the long term.

"Ministers must also make sure local authorities can be confident that they will have access to the resources they need to provide safe, secure accommodation for all those at risk of sleeping rough into the long term, not just through the current crisis. This must include ongoing support for those in emergency accommodation."

Review into lockdown fines shows one rule for Cummings and one for everyone else

Responding to yesterday evening's press conference, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated the government will look into reviewing fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during lock-down, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"The British public have made huge sacrifices over the past two months, losing their freedom, their livelihoods, and in many tragic instances - someone they loved. Ministers' determination to keep defending the actions of Dominic Cummings are an insult to every single person following the lock-down measures in place.

"The commitment by the Health Secretary today to look into reviewing fines imposed on those travelling for childcare during lock-down shows that the Government are in an untenable position.

"If what Dominic Cummings did wasn't against the rules, then why have others been fined for the same actions? There is no answer other than that there is one rule for Dominic Cummings, and one rule for the rest of us.

"The trust between the government and the British public has been broken, at a time when it is absolutely crucial if we are to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives. The longer Dominic Cumming stays in post, the longer the Prime Minister and his government not only risk public health, but their ability to fight the virus altogether."

Covid-19: prisons have become crucible for virus

Responding to the figures showing that the number of prison staff with coronavirus has increased dramatically, with 873 staff having tested positive across England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperon Daisy Cooper said:

"The figures showing the dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases amongst prison staff demonstrate that the government is allowing prisons to become a crucible for the virus.

"Whilst our prisons remain overcrowded and the government refuse to release all low-risk prisoners, there is no chance of social distancing. This puts the health of both staff and prisoners, as well as our communities, at risk.

"The government must listen to prison governors and end overcrowding in prisons before the consequences become even more severe. Liberal Democrats are calling for Ministers to release all low-risk prisoners serving short sentences and suspend any new short sentences. With tough licence conditions and electronic tagging, the government can keep our communities safe from both crime and the spread of coronavirus."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Give Hong Kong citizens the right to live in the UK

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to reopen the British National Overseas Passport offer and extend it to give Hong Kong citizens the right to live in the UK following renewed police violence towards protesters in the Hong Kong.
Reports from Hong Kong say police fired tear gas and water cannon at several hundred demonstrators on Sunday who gathered to protest plans by China to implement a controversial national security law on the former British territory.
The Liberal Democrats, whose former leader Paddy Ashdown led the argument for securing the right of abode if China ever reneged on the Sino-British declaration, have joined Hong Kong Watch and others in condemning what they described as “a naked power-grab by Beijing.”
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, Alistair Carmichael, said:

“If there ever were a time for us to act in support of Hong Kong, it is now. This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration.

“Under that Declaration, the UK has a duty to the protect the people of Hong Kong. I believe the UK also has a moral duty to stop this violation of rights and freedoms now.

“Liberal Democrats are therefore urging the Government to take decisive action and reopen the British National Overseas Passport offer and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK.”

PM’s own judgement now in question

Responding to the Prime Minister backing his scandal-hit aide, Dominic Cummings, at today’s press conference, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“Millions of people who’ve made huge sacrifices to keep to the rules will be astonished and angry at how the Prime Minister is now bending the rules for his closest aide. 

“By failing to act, the Prime Minister undermines his own authority to lead the country through this appalling crisis, bringing his own judgement into question.

“The Government’s efforts to defeat coronavirus on testing, on PPE for frontline workers and on stopping the tragedy in our care homes are still inadequate. The Prime Minister’s failure to act on this scandal won’t help turn that around.

“Conservative MPs must stop defending the indefensible and support our calls for Dominic Cummings to go.”

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Self-employed must not be left behind

Analysis by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on self-employed people found that “over the last month, 46% have had trouble paying for basic expenses such as rent, mortgage payments or essentials."

Responding, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“The coronavirus crisis is leaving thousands of families facing financial hardship. We must ensure no one is left behind. The Government must extend its support for self-employed people in line with the furlough scheme, and expand it to cover those who are currently left out, including the newly self-employed.

“The government rightly paid out grants this month but that was to cover lost earnings over the past three months. With the economy in a dire situation and the social distancing measures likely to continue for several months millions of self-employed people who are currently living on the edge.

"Taxi drivers, hairdressers, cleaners and childcare providers, amongst many other self-employed people in our communities, need the help and support that is being given to furloughed staff.”

Cummings must go

Responding to reports that senior government adviser Dominic Cummings broke the government's lock-down guidelines, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"Millions of people have made incredible sacrifices over the past three months to do their bit to stop the coronavirus. They have been forced to cancel their normal daily lives as well as important family gatherings like weddings. Many have had to witness the funerals of loved ones through video conference.

“They expect senior members of the Prime Minister’s office to stay home too.

"If Dominic Cummings has broken the guidelines he will have to resign, it is as simple as that."

Friday, May 22, 2020

Hong Kong power-grab by Beijing condemned

Condemning reports that Beijing is introducing a resolution that would bypass Hong Kong local law-making processes in order to impose a new ‘national security law’ on the territory, Alistair Carmichael the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong said:

“This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration.

“The UK has a moral and legal duty to act. It is clear that China no longer cares for the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

“We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms. Liberal Democrats are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action. As part of this, it is time to reopen the British National Overseas Passport offer and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK.”

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Johnson must not be allowed to forget unacceptable five week wait for Universal Credit

Responding to Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics out this week which reveal a rise in unemployment and a six fold increase in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable at risk. Thousands of families face financial hardship and people are rightly worried. 

“The furlough scheme has rightly helped protect jobs but there are still millions of people that need help. That’s why Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to prevent further redundancies by extending income support for self-employed workers.

“Ministers must also not be allowed to forget the unacceptable five week wait for universal credit support. The Government must end this wait by raising benefit rates, abolishing sanctions and turning day-one Universal Credit loans into grants.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Lib Dems call for permanent remote voting option for MPs

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the new online system enabling MPs to vote remotely to be made permanent, after the successful first vote under the system this week.

The system, using the online “MemberHub” portal, has been introduced in the House of Commons as a temporary measure to allow MPs to vote on legislation and other motions from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Liberal Democrat Political Reform Spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain says making it permanent would “put an end to MPs having to choose between going into Parliament when they’re ill or leaving their constituents unrepresented on key votes.”

The Party believes permanent remote voting would remove the reliance on pairing agreements, which have proved controversial such as when a Conservative MP voted in a knife-edge Brexit vote in 2018 despite being paired with former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, away on maternity leave.

The Liberal Democrats will submit their proposals for remote voting as an alternative to physical voting to the House of Commons Procedure Select Committee’s inquiry on procedure under coronavirus restrictions.

Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Political Reform, said:

“It is right that, like everyone else, MPs stay at home as much as possible to protect the NHS and save lives. But proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s actions is essential, and allowing MPs to vote remotely is therefore absolutely vital.

“I’m grateful to the parliamentary staff who have put in place a secure system of remote voting for all MPs, so that we can continue to do our jobs.

“Now that the system up and running, there is no good reason not to make it permanent. Allowing MPs to vote remotely will put an end to us having to choose between going into Parliament when they’re ill or leaving their constituents unrepresented on key votes.

“It shouldn't have taken a pandemic to drag Parliament into the 21st century. But now that it has, we must not see Parliament go back again when this crisis is over.

“Liberal Democrats have been working for years to make Parliament more accessible and will continue to do so.”

We must not pursue an isolationist approach to vaccine

Responding to today's coronavirus press conference, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

"Any progress on a vaccine to fight coronavirus is welcome, but we must not solely base all our hopes on this one trial, nor should we turn our backs on international cooperation should we be successful.

"We have seen the importance of international cooperation, whether it has been sourcing ventilators, processing tests when our own laboratories could not process them all, or in working with others to fly back citizens stuck abroad. Whether we are the first to be successful, or another country is, it is vital we continue to fight the virus with other countries rather than pursuing an isolationist approach as we have seen from the President of the United States.

"In the mean time, the Government must not lose sight of ensuring we have a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system in place to keep people safe until a successful vaccine is readily available."

Lib Dems lead cross party push to keep pubs in business

The Liberal Democrats are at the forefront of a cross party call to protect pubs in the face of the “unique combination of challenges” created by the Covid-19 crisis. 

Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, alongside MPs from the Tory, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green parties, are calling for Ministers to ensure pubs  - a “cornerstone of British culture” - are in a position to reopen once social distancing measures are eased. 

The group have written to the Chancellor to demand bespoke support for the industry including calls to: 
  • Scrap the £51,000 Rateable Value cap for pubs, allowing pubs to access the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.
  • Stop pubco landlords from charging rent to their tenants through the crisis.
  • Extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the hospitality sector for the duration of social distancing measures and adopt a tailored approach to taper down the scheme in line with the ability of pubs to re-open on a viable basis.
Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans, said: 

“Pubs are an iconic part of our social and economic fabric. They are the hub of many communities and play a key role in the wider economy, employing nearly half a million people directly and supporting so many other jobs - not least in brewing and entertainment. 

“Right now, many pubs are saddled with enormous rents, payable despite the fact that their doors are closed. On top of this, many are unable to access Government grants because they’re based on the broken business rates system. They are on a financial precipice. 

“The Chancellor must take radical action to prevent beloved pubs from permanently closing their doors. He must scrap the unfair rates cap that prevents so many pubs from accessing vital funds, and prevent pubco landlords from charging exorbitant rates to their tenants whilst they are unable to open their premises. 

“Longer term, we are calling for wholesale reform of the broken business rates system, which has been exposed as completely unfit for purpose.  

“Ministers must act urgently to support UK pubs through the COVID crisis, or risk leaving a gaping hole in communities across the UK and the loss of a wonderful part of our heritage.”

Tom Stainer, Chief Executive at CAMRA said: 

“We welcome this letter, which highlights vital issues facing pubs during the Covid-19 lock-down. It has been estimated that up 19,000 pubs are now at risk of permanent closure as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, which also means that jobs are on the line, and consumers stand to lose out on the social and well-being benefits of pub going.

“Up to 20% of pubs may not be eligible for grant support due to their high rateable value – but that doesn’t mean they are better able than smaller pubs to weather this storm, so it’s imperative that the grant scheme is extended to offer them support.

“CAMRA has also called for pub companies to cancel rent for tenants and is seeking assurances that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be available to pubs and brewers until the end of social distancing measures. We’re delighted to see MPs doing the same and applaud their efforts – hopefully, the Government will listen."

Tories are putting ideology above people's lives in refusing to extend Brexit talks

Responding to reports that civil servants dealing with coronavirus have been redeployed to no-deal planning, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"The Government’s continuing rejection of calls for an extension to Brexit talks is reckless and flies in the face of the current efforts by everyone to tackle the coronavirus crisis. The reports that civil servants are being diverted from dealing with the virus to no-deal planning, as well as Michael Gove’s stubborn response this morning, shows the Government is determined to see the British public go from one crisis to the next.

"As we witness coronavirus continue to take lives across the UK, especially in our care homes and on the front line, it is outrageous that the Government are pulling resources away from tackling the spread of the disease. This Conservative Government are putting ideology above people’s lives, when far too many have already been tragically lost.

"To press ahead with Brexit on the previous timetable is dangerous. The Government must extend the transition period so they can focus on getting our front-line workers the protective equipment they need and the strategy to test, trace and isolate to keep people safe in place."

Friday, May 15, 2020

EU Commission launches legal action against UK government's failings over citizens’ rights

Responding to the reports that the European Commission has launched legal action against the British government for its “failure to comply” with European Union rules on free movement, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"It is beyond frustrating that it has got to the point where the UK Government is facing legal action to protect the rights of people who contribute so much to this country. The fact that the Commission feels it has to take this action to protect rights after the transition period reflects terribly on the UK government and their actions.

"The current crisis has made it clear just how vital immigration is. For our NHS and social care systems, EU workers are key.

"Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the Government to scrap its damaging immigration plans and instead build a fair, effective immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect."

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Businesses were misled over post-Brexit customs checks

Responding to the Government's admission that there will be customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea after the Brexit transition period ends, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and Brexit spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: 

"Johnson’s Government has failed to give businesses much needed clarity on this issue. It now seems Johnson was deeply dishonest with businesses when he previously asserted there would be no checks and businesses could put paperwork “in the bin”.

"His Brexit deal will mean extra costs and bureaucracy for businesses in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, at a time when many are already struggling with the impact of coronavirus.

"Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the Conservative Government to do the right thing and protect UK businesses. As part of this, it is vital the Government extend the transition period to help prevent any additional economic damage."

Lib Dems oppose Government’s Immigration Bill

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment in the House of Commons that would prevent the Government’s Immigration Bill from progressing.
The party is opposing the Conservatives’ plans to end free movement at the end of the year, with Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine arguing that, during the coronavirus crisis, “we should be celebrating the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our NHS, social care and across our society.”
The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which would end EU free movement, will be debated in the House of Commons on Monday. The Liberal Democrat amendment would refuse to grant the Bill its Second Reading, stopping it from becoming law.
The “reasoned amendment” sets out the party’s opposition to the Bill – including its failure to fully guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK, something Boris Johnson repeatedly promised to do. It also criticises the Government for failing to set out “an immigration system to replace free movement that would allow businesses and public services to recruit the workers they need”.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine, who tabled the amendment, said:
“It is hard to believe that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservatives are still pressing ahead with their destructive plans.
“Now more than ever, we should be celebrating the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our NHS, social care and across our society. Priti Patel may consider care workers to be ‘low skilled’, but they are on the front lines protecting us and our loved ones every single day.
“If the Conservatives go ahead with these plans, they will deal a massive new blow to the NHS and British businesses, just as the economy is beginning to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
“Liberal Democrats are opposing this Bill and arguing instead for a fair, effective and compassionate immigration system that works for our economy and treats everyone with the dignity they deserve.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Government must not end virtual parliament


Responding to reports that Parliament will no longer remain virtual after recess at the end of May, Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said:

"Suggestions that MPs will not be able to do their job virtually from the beginning of June are deeply concerning. We are living through a national emergency. We have worked incredibly hard to get Parliament up and running in virtual form for exactly that reason.  The current advice is that people should work at home if the can - we have proven that MPs can. 

“As yet, the Government has published no guidance as to how MPs and staff are meant to keep a two metres distance from each other whilst working in Parliament. Perhaps most worryingly of all, MPs and staff would be further filling up public transport networks and presumably travelling back and forth to communities all over the country. 

“The Government must be absolutely clear why MPs need to be physically in Parliament and how Parliament can be a safe place to work so that MPs and staff do not become a factor In any future peak of the virus.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Davey raises concerns PM misled Parliament over change in slogan

Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has raised concerns that the Prime Minister has misled Parliament regarding his response to his question yesterday on the changing of the Government's slogan, calling on Boris Johnson to correct the record urgently.

Yesterday, Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister to confirm "reports that neither the chief medical officer nor the chief scientific adviser signed off yesterday’s shift in the public health message from “Stay at home” to “Stay alert”?" - which the Prime Minister denied.

However, at the press conference yesterday evening both Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, refused to confirm they directly signed off the new slogan.

Following this, Ed Davey has today written a letter (below) to the Prime Minister stating that "if you have misled Parliament, inadvertently or otherwise, that this is incredibly serious" and that he must "attend the House to correct the record at your earliest convenience".

Further to the letter, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"Millions of people across the UK have given up their freedom in following the Government's advice to slow the spread of coronavirus and keep each other safe, with many risking their livelihoods entirely. In the past 48 hours we have seen the Government make a total mess of their public health communications as they changed the advice and messaging, creating more confusion than clarity.
"Yesterday, I directly asked the Prime Minister to confirm whether the reports that neither the Chief Medical Office, Chris Whitty, nor the Chief Scientific Officer, Patrick Vallance, had signed off the change in slogan were true. He stated that those reports were "not right".
"However at the press conference just hours later, both the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Officer refused to confirm they directly signed off the slogan, with Boris Johnson dodging the question altogether. This is not acceptable. If the Prime Minister has misled Parliament, that is incredibly serious and at the very least he must come to the House of Commons and correct the record immediately."

Saturday, May 09, 2020

On Europe Day, give frontline workers right to stay

To mark Europe Day, the Liberal Democrats are renewing calls on the Government to honour the contribution of foreign nationals working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis by granting them and their families indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The proposals represent a significant step beyond the Government’s current offer. The campaign has secured support from across the political spectrum, including Labour, Conservative, SNP, Green, Alliance and the Liberal Democrats.

Europe Day is held on 9 May every year to celebrate peace and unity across Europe. The EU is marking the day this year by paying tribute to the many Europeans who are helping to defeat the coronavirus crisis.

Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:
"Europe Day is a reminder of the value of international cooperation. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our European neighbours has never been more important.
"Only by working internationally can we effectively combat international challenges - whether it's Covid-19 or climate change.
"Today is also an opportunity to recognise the contributions EU citizens living in the UK make to our society. And to thank these friends, colleagues, neighbours, and family members who enrich our lives every day.
"During this coronavirus crisis the contribution of migrants, including those from the EU, has been immense and crucial. On Europe Day 2020, we therefore give our heartfelt thanks to those in our NHS and care sector, those working to ensure we all have access to food, and those filling other essential roles.
“We cannot thank the people on the frontline enough for going above and beyond to look after us all. None of these people should face being kicked out of the UK by the Home Office after the service they have provided. Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the government to grant these heroes automatic indefinite leave to remain."

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Keep the furlough scheme, and do not lift the lockdown until a proper test, track and treat scheme is in place

Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey called on the Prime Minister to ensure communities do not face the hardship of mass redundancies as a result of the government stopping the furlough scheme.

Ed also told the PM that the Liberal Democrats continue to support the lockdown measures and that a proper system of testing, tracing and isolating must be in place before the lockdown is lifted.

Speaking after his call with the PM, Ed Davey said: 

“The Prime Minister emphasised the need for caution before lockdown can be lifted. Liberal Democrats certainly support an approach to lifting the lockdown that's based on the science, the evidence and the health of the nation, so we hope the Government's messaging will now be less confused.  

"I pushed the need for an extension to the furlough scheme and much greater flexibility, which seems an issue on which all Opposition Parties are beginning to agree. The Prime Minister seemed sympathetic, especially to the Liberal Democrat notion of a tapered approach.

“The number one economic priority must be avoiding mass redundancies by extending the furlough scheme. Businesses must have the time and space to recover. Jobs and business support schemes cannot be removed at the end of June.
“I also urged the Prime Minister not to be so reliant on technology in the tracing aspect of the urgently needed test, trace and isolation strategy. Not only does the UK still lag behind on testing, but we do not have anywhere near enough people trained to do tracing at a community level.
“The government must make every effort to hold the consensus together on the ending of lockdown, that means working much more closely with the opposition parties and devolved administrations."

The government must publish evidence used for PM's announcement on Sunday

Following today’s daily press conference and having spoken earlier today to the Prime Minister in his call with Opposition Party Leaders, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"As Sunday approaches, many will be anxious about what the Prime Minister will announce.

"With the number of cases remaining alarmingly high in care homes and the fact that the Government still doesn’t have a comprehensive plan to test, trace and isolate to keep people safe, there will be serious questions about the consequences of any significant relaxation of lockdown measures.

"For the public to have confidence in the Government's plan for relaxing lockdown, they must be open and transparent. The evidence used to make these decisions must be published and available to all for proper scrutiny.

"The announcement on Sunday must include a strategy to hugely increase the UK’s testing capacity, as well as increasing our ability to trace the virus and to provide protective equipment to frontline workers. 

"Without a strategy to test, trace and isolate the Government will not be able to keep the British public safe from coronavirus."

Monday, May 04, 2020

Put the national interest ahead of Brexit ideology

Responding to reports that the Government is seeking to join the EU pandemic early warning system, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: 

“This is a positive step from the Government. The UK should always cooperate with our partners in the EU when it is in the national interest. 

“It was extremely disappointing that the Government failed to take up the opportunity to work with the EU to provide front-line workers with PPE. It is also deeply concerning that the Conservatives appear hellbent on sticking to their own arbitrary deadline to have a Brexit deal negotiated by the end of this year, ignoring the damage that failure to secure a deal could do to our fragile post-coronavirus economy.

“Seeking to join the EU pandemic warning system is a welcome step in the right direction, but Government policy is still being driven by Brexit ideology, rather than the national interest.”