Liberal Democrat MPs will today vote against the Government’s attempts to reintroduce draconian laws cracking down on the right to protest.
Two key laws were removed from the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill through Liberal Democrat amendments in the House of Lords last month.
They would create new powers to impose restrictions on public assemblies and one-person protests. Liberal Democrats also supported cross-party amendments to remove the power to ban protests that are “too noisy”.
The Government has tabled motions to overturn those Lords amendments, which the House of Commons will debate today.
Ahead of the votes, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:
“Priti Patel’s Protest Crackdown Laws are dangerous and draconian. The fundamental right to peaceful assembly and protest has always been a crucial part of our democratic society.
“These new laws are part of the Conservative Government’s anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition to its policies. Liberal Democrats are fiercely resisting them.
“I am proud of the work Liberal Democrats and others have done in the House of Lords to take out the worst parts of this Bill. Today we will fight to prevent the Government adding them back in, and I hope MPs from all parties will join us.”
Monday, February 28, 2022
Lib Dems to vote against Patel’s Protest Crackdown Laws
Economic Crime Bill is long overdue
Responding to the confirmation that the Government will be bringing forward the long-awaited Economic Crime Bill on Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
"This announcement is long overdue. It shouldn't have taken a war in Ukraine for action to prevent dirty Russian money flooding into our country and corrupting our politics.
"These new measures must be fast tracked though parliament and used in full, to crack down on Putin's cronies by seizing and freezing their assets.
"The cash collected through this oligarchs tax should then be used to help people cope with their soaring energy bills.
"We also need the review of everyone who came here on Golden Visas published in full, with individuals linked to Putin's regime being shown the door."
Sunday, February 27, 2022
BP pull out: Other companies must follow suit
The Liberal Democrats have welcomed the decision of BP to offload their almost 20% stake in Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft in the wake of Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Reacting to the news Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey, who called for this to happen in Parliament on Thursday, said:
“I welcome BP’s decision to pull out of Rosneft because of Putin’s horrifying war in Ukraine. We now need all other British companies to follow suit, with immediate effect, and the Government to step up with stronger sanctions.
“The world must isolate Russia like the rogue state it is, and the UK must stand firm in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The only way sanctions work is if every organisations and all governments are willing to shoulder responsibility and take tough decisions.”
Kevin Foster Ukrainian visa comments "completely wrong"
Responding to Home Office Minister Kevin Foster tweeting that Ukrainians seeking to flee the ongoing conflict should apply for the seasonal worker visa, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:
“Ukrainians are queuing for miles to escape Putin’s war machine. For the Home Office to tell them to apply for visas as if they are looking for work or going on a gap year is completely wrong.
"We should stand with all Ukrainians, not only those prepared to pick kale and cabbage.
“The UK must help lead a coordinated humanitarian response, including a simple, fast scheme to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK.
“Our country has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution. We must not turn our backs on Ukrainians in their hour of need.”
Russian oil tanker in Orkney: Boris Johnson must intervene
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson and MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael has written to Boris Johnson urging him to sanction and deny Russian-owned vessels access to UK ports following Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
In his letter, Mr Carmichael highlighted his previous exchange with Mr Johnson in Parliament in which the Prime Minister indicated that new measures meant the government could sanction Russian-owned companies like Sovcomflot, one of the largest petroleum shipping companies in the world.
One Sovcomflot vessel (NS Challenger) has already departed from Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland with a second, the NS Champion, due to arrive at Flotta terminal in Orkney on Tuesday. Currently such vessels operate freely and cannot legally be denied access to ports by local authorities.
Mr Carmichael also highlighted that during the Second World War the Royal Navy flagship, the Royal Oak, was sunk in the Scapa Flow by a German U-boat with 835 crew members losing their lives. He warned that allowing open access to Sovcomflot would “dishonour the memory of the sacrifice that the crew of the Royal Oak made in their fight against fascism” and called for action immediately.
Commenting Alistair Carmichael MP said:
"With the conflict in Ukraine still raging, it's vital that all countries step up their sanctions against Putin and his cronies.
“Companies like Sovcomflot are owned by the Russian Government, so the money they make goes straight back to the Kremlin and helps fund Vladimir Putin’s war machine.
“It’s unthinkable that our sanctions do not extend to companies operating in our ports, allowing money to still make its way back to Moscow. Boris Johnson says he has the power to stop this, so now he has to use it.
"We must stand with the Ukrainian people, who are bravely resisting the invasion of their homeland, and ensure no Russian ships cannot use UK ports to fund Putin’s war.”
Friday, February 25, 2022
UK must step up with humanitarian response to stop Putin destabilising Europe
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the UK to lead a coordinated humanitarian response to Putin’s war in Ukraine, with safe passage and support for Ukrainian refugees fleeing violence and persecution at the hands of Russian forces.
The party’s MPs have written to the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary, urging them to work with humanitarian agencies and Ukraine’s neighbours to provide accommodation and support to the people now fleeing Russian troops, who are now advancing on the capital of Kyiv.
It comes in the wake of the news that visa applications from those Ukrainian nationals without close British relatives and who are stuck in the country are suspended, meaning no legal route exists for them to enter the UK and claim asylum.
The letter calls for “an ambitious commitment to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK”, and urges the Government to withdraw its Nationality and Borders Bill – currently going through Parliament – because it would criminalise Ukrainians and other refugees who come to the UK seeking asylum. This is a sentiment shared by a number of leading charities such as Amnesty International and Save The Children in a letter to The Times today.
The Liberal Democrats are warning Ministers not to repeat the mistakes of the Government’s scheme for Afghan refugees, which still sees many families trapped in small hotel rooms, waiting to be properly resettled and without the settled immigration status the Government promised. The letter calls for “a full five-year funding package for each and every person a council resettles”.
Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, said:
“A terrible human tragedy is unfolding before our eyes, as a result of Putin’s maniacal aggression.
“We are already seeing queues of people desperate to get out before it is too late, especially LGBT+ people, journalists and activists who fear persecution at the hands of Russian forces.
“As well as the strongest possible sanctions on Putin and his cronies, this crisis demands a coordinated humanitarian response. Anything less would play right into Putin’s hands by destabilising our continent even further.
“The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those forced to flee war and persecution. We must not turn our backs on the people of Ukraine in their hour of need.”
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Absence of Gazprom and Rosneft from sanctions list is "elephant in the room"
Responding to the additional sanctions on Russian companies and individuals announced today by Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Energy Secretary Ed Davey said:
"The absence of Gazprom and Rosneft, part-owned by BP, in today’s sanctions list is the elephant in the room. The UK must do everything we can to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
"Russia’s state-owned oil and gas giants stand to profit from this war and soaring prices. We must start treating Putin’s Russia like the rogue state it is and immediately cut off UK investment in these firms."
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Government announcement on settlement fees ‘leaves out too many Armed Forces personnel’
Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone MP has welcomed the Government’s announcement that settlement fees will be waived for foreign nationals who have served in the UK Armed Forces for at least six years, but says it will still leave many service personnel facing “excessive fees”.
The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for several years for these fees to be waived for members of the Armed Forces and their families. In 2019, Jamie Stone and party leader Ed Davey MP tabled a Private Members’ Bill to force the government to do so, as well as a parliamentary motion that secured wide cross-party support.
Jamie Stone MP, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson said:
“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude and respect to all those who serve our country and keep us safe. The fact that so many brave veterans are forced to take out huge debts or denied their right to live in the UK because of excessive Home Office fees is a scandal, and I am glad we have finally forced the Government to act.
“However, limiting the waiver only to those who have served six years or more will leave many veterans still facing thousands of pounds in fees. I urge Ministers to go further, and
waive them for all those with the right to settle in the UK.
“Anyone who has put their lives at risk to defend our country should be free to live in it.”
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
NFU criticism: Conservatives don't understand our farmers
Responding to the President of the National Farmers' Union Minette Batters criticising the UK Government’s farming policy as "completely contradictory" at their national conference, Liberal Democrat Food & Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:
"The comments from the NFU today prove what we already know - the Conservatives don't understand our farmers' needs and they're failing the farming industry.
"On one hand they're signing trade deals that are deeply damaging, undermining British food standards and undercutting British farmers, while on the other hand they're cutting the vital support they need by phasing out Basic Payments before the new payments scheme is ready.
"Farmers are key allies in the fight against climate change, but the Conservatives risk losing hundreds of farmers who will simply go bust if they continue along this path. Liberal Democrats back British farmers and would provide much needed support to the sector."
Vagrancy Act to be repealed: Archaic and cruel law consigned to history
In reaction to the news that the Vagrancy Act will be repealed, long time campaigner against the Act, Layla Moran MP said:
“After years of campaigning I am elated that we consigned this archaic and cruel law to history. No one should be criminalised for sleeping rough, especially by a piece of legislation passed in the Georgian era.
“This is testament to the hard work of so many people: the students who first brought the issue to my attention, and to our campaign partners Crisis.
“This can transform the way we talk about rough sleeping and homelessness in this country, from criminalisation to compassion.
“While we can celebrate today, tomorrow we return to the hard work of holding the government to account on their manifesto commitment to ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament."
Ed Davey on Ukraine: Freeze and seize assets of all Putin’s cronies in UK
Ed Davey has also backed a boycott of international sporting and cultural events hosted in Russia, starting with moving this year’s Champions League final from St Petersburg. The Liberal Democrats have written to the government asking them to prepare Wembley in the event of the final being moved.
Friday, February 18, 2022
Revoking golden visas: Priti Patel must stop London being used as “Putin’s playground"
The Liberal Democrats have written to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging her to set out a clear action plan and timetable to revoke golden visas and stop London being treated as “Putin’s playground.”
It comes after Security Minister Damian Hinds told Times Radio this morning that "there are routes to revoke” existing visas if circumstances called for it.
2,581 investor visas have been granted to Russian citizens through the controversial golden visas scheme since it was introduced in 2008. It’s previously been reported that almost half of the visas granted through the scheme have been reviewed for potential risks to national security.
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran, who wrote the letter to the Home Secretary, said:
“Priti Patel must set out a clear action plan and timetable to revoke golden visas handed out to Russian nationals who pose a potential security risk. Now is the time to send a strong signal that London can no longer be treated as Putin’s playground.
“We need to hit Putin’s regime where it hurts, and that means stopping his oligarch friends using our country as a place to launder their cash and buy up luxury property.
“For years, ministers have dragged their heels and failed to act. Putin’s aggression against Ukraine should be a wake-up call to finally end the pervasive influence of dirty Russian money on our country."
Thursday, February 17, 2022
COBRA Storm meeting: Government never learns from mistakes
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to bring forward a package of support for communities affected by storms in the UK.
It comes as both Storm Dudley and Eunice are barraging places with strong winds and harsh weather. Like Storm Arwen that ravaged homes in November 2021, thousands are set to be left without power, with railways and transport links also taking serious damage.
The Lib Dems are calling for ministers to step in and provide food, emergency accommodation and other essential supplies to vulnerable people on the ground impacted by the storms.
The party is also urging support to be brought in to provide emergency electricity generators to communities until power is restored, and for the government to provide additional support to engineers working hard to bring back power as soon as possible.
In response to the news that a COBRA meeting was called this morning, Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:
“Whenever a storm hits, the Government is disgracefully unprepared to support the thousands of people affected. They never learn from their mistakes. This time, as people up and down the country are barraged by stormy weather, the Government must be on hand to provide support.
“The COBRA meeting must agree on an emergency support plan including providing food, emergency accommodation and electricity generators for those affected by any power cuts.
“People across the United Kingdom are fed up with being taken for granted and left without proper support when things go wrong. With extreme weather more frequent, the Conservatives cannot ignore the crisis sweeping the nation.”
Prison expansions: Cost of Conservatives' failure on crime
Responding to the Government's announcement of plans to create 4,000 more prison spaces, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:
“This is the cost of the Conservatives’ failure on crime. The UK already has more people in prison than any other country in Western Europe, and now the Government is spending an extra £4 billion because crime is rising.
“These new places won’t even do anything to reduce the huge overcrowding in prisons, because of the rising prison population. Only by ending overcrowding can we rehabilitate prisoners properly and break the cycle of reoffending.
“Just building more prison cells won’t do anything to make our communities safer. Instead of trying to sound tough, Ministers should focus on restoring effective community policing where officers are visible, trusted and focused on cutting crime.”
Kick out Putin’s golden visa cronies, say Lib Dems
The Liberal Democrats have said Putin’s cronies who have previously been granted golden visas should have them revoked and be kicked out of the country.
It comes after the Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed today the golden visas scheme will be scrapped and that a Home Office review on the issue that ministers have been sitting on since 2018 will be published “in due course.”
The review examines those golden visas which were issued between 2008 and April 2015, and is reportedly reviewing more than 6,000 golden visas for national security risks - over half of all those issued during this period.
The Liberal Democrats have said the review must be published immediately and that all visas held by individuals flagged as a national security risk should be cancelled with immediate effect, with a wider review into those who came here on these visas but now have claimed UK citizenship.
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
“Shutting the door to Putin’s cronies is not enough - too many of them have already walked through it with virtually no questions asked.
“The Government must immediately publish the long overdue report into those who currently hold and came here on these visas. It’s time to kick out associates of the Kremlin who have used golden visas to launder their dirty money, and reputations, in our country.
“Over the last six months, the Government has repeatedly said that this review is being ‘finalised’ but even now won’t give a clear timeline for when it will be published.
“It makes a mockery of their promises to stand up to Putin’s aggression, when they are doing nothing to stop his cronies who are right now stashing their dirty money on our shores and claiming UK citizenship.”
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Businesses loud and clear on failed EU trade deal
Responding to research by the British Chambers of Commerce which shows that firms are unhappy with the EU trade deal and the difficulties it has imposed upon trade, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:
“Businesses are saying loud and clear that Boris Johnson’s trade deal with the EU is simply not good enough, but the Government isn’t even listening.
“Claims from the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg about Brexit opportunities ring hollow for businesses being drowned in paperwork and delays at our borders.
“This failed trade deal is even making the cost of living crisis worse, as many businesses have no choice but to raise their prices.
“The Government needs to listen to businesses and urgently relaunch the SME Brexit support fund to help struggling firms cope.”
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
New stats show pay squeezed as cost of living crisis worsens
Responding to new Office for National Statistics figures that show real term (adjusted for inflation) pay has fallen, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:
“People up and down the country are facing one of the biggest squeezes on their incomes in a generation.
“This will only get worse as the Conservatives plough on with their unfair National Insurance tax hike that will clobber families.
“If Boris Johnson had any compassion he’d scrap the tax hike and support those set to be hit hard as the cost of living crisis worsens.”
Sunday, February 13, 2022
Whiff of something else from this Conservative Government
Responding to Brandon Lewis' comments this morning, in which he defended the remarks made by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that there is a "whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West", Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
“There’s a whiff of something else coming from this Conservative Government, who have time and again turned a blind eye to Russian interference in this country.
"With UK nationals having to leave Ukraine, it's time to flush out Putin's associates within our borders. Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs have pumped their dirty cash into Britain for far too long, many of them fast-tracked for residency by the 'golden visa' scheme. It's high time those visas used by Putin's cronies are cancelled."
No resignation gongs for Johnson
The Liberal Democrats have said Boris Johnson should be barred from handing out knighthoods, peerages and other honours when he steps down as Prime Minister.
The party’s Chief Whip, Wendy Chamberlain, has written to the chairs of the House of Lords Appointments Commission and the Cabinet Office Honours Committee urging them to reject Johnson’s resignation honours list if he puts one forward.
It comes after recent reports Boris Johnson has promised knighthoods and peerages to Conservative MPs to persuade them not to hand in their letters of no confidence to the 1922 committee.
Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:
“Boris Johnson should have already left Number 10. Instead he’s promising people knighthoods and honours in a desperate attempt to cling on to power.
“A Prime Minister forced from office by his own lies and law-breaking shouldn’t be allowed to hand out honours to his friends on the way out. Allowing him to get away with this would make a mockery of Parliament and continue to sow distrust in our political system.
“There should be no resignation honours list for Johnson and he should be barred from ever getting a seat in the House of Lords. Anything less is an insult to all those who followed the rules whilst Number 10 partied.”
Conservatives plunging couples into a Cost of Loving Crisis
The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of leading Britain into a ‘cost of loving’ crisis ahead of Valentine’s Day, with loved-up couples set to fork out more for their night of romance this year.
With inflation at its highest level in nearly three decades, an analysis by the party has found that the average couple having a romantic night in will pay out £89.08 for the full works this Valentine’s Day, representing an extra £6.02 (7.25%) compared to last year to wine and dine each other and leaving partners with less bang for their buck.
A Parliamentary Question tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney has also unearthed that the Treasury has made no assessment as to what impact inflation has had on the price of Valentine’s Day staples, such as flowers, chocolates and bottles of bubbly.
It comes as families are bearing the brunt of the wider cost of living crisis, with energy prices set to soar alongside other bills in April while the Conservatives’ stealth tax raid and national insurance hike - a broken manifesto promise - hits them in the pocket.
Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP, said:
“It’s not just butterflies leaving couples with a fluttering feeling in the stomach this Valentine’s Day, with the soaring price of their romantic dinner all together hard to swallow.
“The Conservatives have been asleep at the wheel, sending us headfirst into a cost of loving crisis through their inaction and broken promises. It shouldn’t take a candlelit dinner for some respite from skyrocketing energy bills.
“Love might be in the air this weekend, but so is the financial security of so many couples. It’s high time the Conservatives throw them a ‘lover’s lifeline’ by reversing their unfair tax hikes - there would be no better gift this Valentine’s Day”.