Monday, August 31, 2020

Scrapping foreign aid shows Johnson and Cummings abandoning world stage


Responding to reports that the Chancellor is set to scrap Foreign Aid, Liberal Democrat International Development spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain said:

“For too many vulnerable people in need around the world, UK foreign aid has made the difference between life and death. 
“Despite previous assurances, the mask has now slipped and we can see the callous Tories for who they really are.

“By scrapping foreign aid, the Government is abandoning the world stage and turning a blind eye to the crippling poverty children face around the world.
“Now more than ever we need oversight and scrutiny by retaining the ICAI, the International Development Committee and a Development Minister in Cabinet."

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Boris Johnson put saving his advisor above the national interest


New survey data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the Dominic Cummings scandal eroded people’s belief that the UK would emerge more united from the corona virus crisis.

The proportion of people believing that Britain would emerge from the pandemic “very or somewhat united” fell from 49% the week before the Cummings scandal broke, to 43% the week after, and has fallen further since to 28%. Meanwhile, the proportion saying we will be “very or somewhat divided” jumped from 31% to 38% when the scandal broke, and now stands at 55%.

Responding to the figures, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“Despite the enormous toll that the corona virus crisis is taking, the British people have shown a powerful desire to pull together as a country. We have seen it in countless extraordinary acts of kindness and sacrifice to keep others safe.

“At times like this, the Government should be fostering that sense of unity, but Boris Johnson has sadly undermined it with his alarming lack of leadership, confusing messages and poor judgement.

“It is clear that, when Boris Johnson chose to put saving Dominic Cummings above the national interest, he did enormous damage not only to public trust in the Government but also people’s hopes of a more united country.

“The British people are amazingly resilient and optimistic, but we are being let down by the weakness and incompetence of our current Prime Minister.”

Ed Davey elected Lib Dem Leader


Ed Davey has today been elected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Ed Davey, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton, won the leadership election this morning, receiving 42,756 votes. 

In his acceptance speech he announced his plans to begin rebuilding the party to national relevance and launched a national listening project, stating that for the Party "it is time to start listening".

Speaking at the declaration today, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said: 

"I’m determined our Party backs a Britain that works with other countries across the world for peace and prosperity. But it is my love of our party that makes me recognise that we have to change.

"We have to wake up and smell the coffee. Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters.

"Yes, we are powerful advocates locally. Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results.

"But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.

"Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening.

"It is time for us to start listening. As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now."

The voting figures:

Ed Davey 42,756 votes
Layla Moran 24,564 votes

The number of abstentions has not been reported

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Brexit reality falls short of rhetoric again as "no deal" threat looms


Responding to news that the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU "seems unlikely", Liberal Democrat Brexit and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: 

“We were told that this would be the easiest negotiation ever but, yet again, the Brexit reality is very different from the rhetoric. 

"Millions of people are looking to the future with dread. With no end in sight to the COVID crisis and the worst economic forecasts for a century or more, the disruption of a no deal Brexit threatens to push the UK into total meltdown. 

"This is not about party politics. It's about making sure families can put food on the table and access life saving medicines. 

"The Prime Minister's childish refusal to extend negotiations in the face of the COVID-crisis shows he would rather flatter his ego than confront reality. If he can't face putting the national interest first then he is not fit to lead this country."

Cost of tackling food crime soars more than 1000%


The Liberal Democrats have revealed the cost of the National Food Crime Unit, vital in making sure food sold in the UK is safe, has seen costs soar by more than 1000% in the past five years as a direct result of Brexit.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron warned the cost of Brexit is "increasingly clear" and urged Ministers to uphold high food safety standards and prevent the UK being "flooded with cheap imports that put our health at risk."
Figures uncovered by a Liberal Democrat freedom of information request have revealed the NFCU budget has gone from a budget of just £420,739 since it's creation in 2015 to more than £5.7m in 2020/21.
The extra funding comes via the expanded Food Standards Agency budget, in order to facilitate NFCU readiness for “any risks or opportunities presented by the UK’s exit from the EU.”
Liberal Democrat Food and Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron:
"We all want to know what's in every product we consume, and have faith that it's correctly labelled.
"While it is right the Government provides essential funding to tackle food crime, we cannot ignore the fact that the costs have gone up more than 1000% as a result of Brexit.
"The true cost of falling out of the EU is increasingly clear. As Ministers struggle to cut trade deals, we are set to lose access to many protections that will cost millions to replicate here in the UK.
"To end the uncertainty and prevent soaring costs, the Government must commit to upholding our high food safety standards, supporting British producers and ensuring our markets are not flooded with cheap imports that put our health at risk in the future."

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Chancellor needs an ambitious plan to save the economy


Responding to reports that debt has increased to over 100% of GDP for the first time since 1961, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“This news must not be used as a reason for the Government to make cuts or return the country to austerity.

“We know that borrowing is historically incredibly cheap, so it is absolutely clear that borrowing money to boost the economy is the best way to get public finances back on track.

“The Chancellor must be far more ambitious in his plans to rescue the economy. The Liberal Democrats have called for a £150bn Green recovery plan to boost the economy and create thousands of new jobs.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Lib Dems call for a rail fare freeze

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a freeze on rail fares following the announcement that the Retail Price Index rose by 1.6% in July, which will be used to calculate the increase in fares at the end of the year.

The Liberal Democrats suggest that any increase in fares would be “a slap in the face” for consumers. Given the significant drop in passenger numbers due to COVID-19, the Party is calling for fare freezes to help restore confidence in the railways.

The Party want to see additional funding to increase capacity and build a network “fit for the future”, vital if the UK Government are serious about cutting emissions and reducing air pollution. 

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

“Any plans to go ahead with a fare increase this year will be a slap in the face for consumers. 

“Our railways are a key part of a sustainable transport network, vital in the fight to tackle the climate emergency and cut air pollution. Rather than putting off commuters with yet another price hike, the Government must help the industry recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This means freezing fares and investing to increase capacity to make sure we have a rail network that is fit for the future.
“Liberal Democrats want to see a freeze on fares until the next election. We also want to see the Conservative Government publish and implement the Rail Review, reform our broken ticket system and stop micromanaging the railways. These changes will help restore confidence in UK railways.” 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Millions of EU citizens living with uncertainty must be given right to stay


The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to grant EU citizens the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need, as new Home Office figures reveal thousands are being refused and millions are still awaiting a final decision.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics reveal 4,600 people have been refused Settled Status, while 1,475,500 have only been granted temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ and 212,400 are still waiting for a decision.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“For far too long, millions of EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty. Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to continue to break his promise to them. 

“With so many people being refused Settled Status, granted only temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ or still waiting for a decision, it's clear that this Conservative Government’s scheme is anything but automatic.

“And without physical proof of their rights, EU citizens will be at the mercy of the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal.

“That is why Liberal Democrats have called for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need.”

Rise in discrimination towards BAME people since lockdown must be tackled


Responding to a University College London study that found BAME groups were most likely to report facing discrimination since lockdown began, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“Everyone should be free to live their lives without fear of discrimination, abuse or violence. Reports that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have been most likely to experience discrimination since lockdown began is deeply alarming.

“All of us with a public platform must stand up to those whose language and actions spread hate – whether based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or anything else.

"The Home Secretary must step up and tackle this appalling trend head-on. That work must be part of a wider effort to tackle systemic racial inequality, which is why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to implement a Race Equality Strategy.”

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Record high of self harm in prisons

Responding to the statistics showing that self-harm incidents in custody have risen again, reaching a record high, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

"Our prisons are in crisis. The number of self-harm incidents, especially in women’s prisons, is shockingly high and rising.

"Because of overcrowding and under-staffing, prisoners spend far too much time locked in their cells, with a lack of support or purposeful activity. To make matters worse, the Conservative Government has introduced new laws that its own assessment says could well lead to more violence and self-harm in prisons.

"Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to end overcrowding, including by scrapping pointless short sentences that cause overcrowding and actually increase re-offending.

"Women should only be sent to prison where absolutely necessary: for the most serious crimes, or where they pose a threat to the public. Effective community-based sentences would be far better for preventing re-offending, and far less damaging for the people involved."

Government must legalise humanist marriages without further delay

The Liberal Democrats have called for the Government to introduce legal recognition of humanist marriages without further delay, after the High Court ruled yesterday that the current law causes discrimination.

Responding to the judgment, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

"Couples should have the right to get married the way they choose. Legalising humanist marriages is a simple but important change, and the Government must do it now, without further delay.

“It’s hard to understand why the Government has chosen to waste taxpayers’ money fighting in the courts to keep this discriminatory ban in place. The Conservatives have got their priorities badly wrong yet again.

"The Liberal Democrats are proud of our record championing equal rights for all people. That is why we have long called for legal recognition of humanist marriages, and now the Government must listen."

Johnson and Cummings acting like despots with plans to restrict judicial review

Responding to the Government’s announcement yesterday of an Independent Review of Administrative Law to consider restrictions to judicial review powers, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

"From failings in universal credit, disability rights and safeguarding, British citizens have used judicial review as a powerful tool to take the Government to court over its failings. 

"Threatening to weaken people’s ability to challenge the Government because the courts sometimes rule against you is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.

"With these plans, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are trying to enable the Government to ride roughshod over people’s rights and allow Ministers to break the law with impunity.

"Liberal Democrats will always defend individuals’ abilities to challenge the Government and uphold their rights. We will not stand by and allow Johnson and Cummings to undermine the rule of law, which is so fundamental to our society."

PM's decision to give his cronies peerages further bloats House of Lords

Responding to the announcement of the new peerages appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords Dick Newby said:

"Theresa May agreed to limit the number of new Conservative Peers she appointed, but Boris Johnson has ripped up this policy. By giving a large number of his cronies peerages, he has shown that the Tories have abandoned any pretence of reducing the size of the bloated House of Lords.

"The Liberal Democrats have long fought to try and get an accountable House of Lords - we must have a properly elected second chamber where individuals are paid a salary, removing any need for outside work to supplement their income.

"Even without such fundamental reform, we could reduce the House to a sensible size by implementing the Burns Review. These appointments show that we are still as far away from that as ever."