Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Homes for Ukraine: Thousands left in limbo by slow and chaotic Conservative response

Responding to new statistics on the Homes for Ukraine scheme which show that less than 10% of applicants have had a visa granted, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“More than 150,000 families are offering to welcome refugees into their homes, but the Conservatives are offering only red tape and delays. Their response has been appallingly slow and chaotic, leaving thousands of Ukrainians in limbo trying to get a visa.

"Ministers need to work harder and faster to match the compassion shown by the British public.

"Ukrainian refugees should be allowed to come to the UK now, without first having to apply for a visa. And the Government should set up a fast, ambitious resettlement scheme, working with refugee agencies to bring Ukrainians directly to the UK.”

Raab partygate excuses an "insult to the British people"

Responding to Dominic Raab’s claim on BBC Breakfast this morning that Boris Johnson told the truth “to the best of his ability”, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

“This pathetic excuse is an insult to the British people who made huge sacrifices during lockdown while those in Downing Street partied.

“Boris Johnson broke the rules then repeatedly lied because he thought he could get away with it. Now he has been found out as a serial liar.

“Attempts by Conservative ministers to rewrite history simply won’t wash. Johnson has lost the trust of the British people and it’s time for him to go.”


Women Killed at the Hands of Men in 28% All Murder Cases

House of Commons Library Research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that 28% of all murder cases since 2016 are women murdered by men.

Since the brutal murder of Sarah Everard last year in March, the data show that 109 women have been murdered where men were the main suspect. This is out of 414 murder victims overall, equalling 26% of all murder cases. 

Liberal Democrat Women and Equalities Spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse MP has slammed the Government for turning a blind eye to anti-women hatred and refusing to take violence against women and girls seriously.  

Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of ‘turning a blind-eye’ to violence against women and girls, choosing to bury their head in the sand. 

Wera Hobhouse MP commented: 

“These figures are nothing short of a national scandal showing the epidemic of violence against women, perpetrated by men.

“It is shameful that the Conservatives have turned a blind eye to anti-women hatred and show a disgraceful lack of understanding of the issue. Make no mistake - these murders are a result of misogyny and sexist attitudes throughout the UK.

“We need a dramatic culture change with bold changes led by the Government. We must send a clear message by making misogyny a hate crime. If the Conservatives do not act fast to tackle the root cause of this violence, more women and girls will suffer at the hands of men."

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Johnson's peers block Lib Dem push to force developers to remove unsafe cladding

Conservatives in the House of Lords have voted down a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Building Safety Bill that would have penalised developers who do not remove unsafe cladding from their buildings.

In a series of votes this evening, the Government voted down Lib Dem proposals that would have forced developers to undertake vital fire remediation work, including removing unsafe cladding, within five years.

However, the Government was defeated on proposals to protect leaseholders from the cost of remediation work. As a result of tonight's votes, the proposed £100,000 cap on bills that leaseholders can face has been reduced to £0 - nullifying the cost entirely.

Commenting after the vote, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

“Tonight, Conservative peers had a chance to stand up for the thousands of leaseholders who, almost five years on from the tragedy at Grenfell, are still trapped in unsafe buildings.

“But they bottled it. Instead, they’ve chosen to let those responsible off the hook for not removing dangerous cladding and fixing dangerous fire safety defects. This is unacceptable and shows how little the Government cares. 

“We must end the building safety scandal for good by ensuring those responsible undertake this vital remediation work quickly and cannot shift these costs onto residents.”

Monday, March 28, 2022

Use bumper energy profits to scrap ‘grossly unfair’ energy bill postcode lottery

The Liberal Democrats have called for the scrapping of the regional differences in electricity and gas bills, which is seeing some households paying £124 more for their gas and electricity just because of where they live.

The UK is broken up into fourteen different pricing regions where it costs different amounts to get electricity and gas to people’s homes. This leads to people in the North of Scotland, Wales and South West England paying more for their gas and electricity bills than other parts of the country. 

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats shows that households in North Wales and Merseyside pay the most for their bills, paying £126 more for the same amount of energy as households in the North East who pay the least. Households in the South West pay almost £109 more, with those in London paying an extra £97.59.

Party leader Ed Davey said Boris Johnson's failure to scrap the differences showed he isn’t serious about “levelling up the country” and called for the electricity and gas companies, who made £5 billion in profits last year, to divert a proportion of this windfall to ensure households pay the cheapest possible price for gas and electricity.

Liberal Democrats are also calling for a Windfall Tax on the super profits of gas and oil producers and traders to fund support for the most vulnerable households. Their calls come as households are facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis, with Ofgem announcing that average energy bills will rise to £1,971 in April.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

“It is grossly unfair that at a time millions are facing eye-watering increases to their energy bills, some people are paying more based simply on where they live.

“If the Conservatives were serious about levelling up, they’d work with energy companies to use some of the huge windfall profits they’ve seen to end this energy postcode lottery right now - which would help ease the squeeze on hard-pressed families.

“The deadly cocktail of rising inflation and soaring energy bills is pushing people to breaking point. Ministers must do more to address this growing crisis before it’s too late.”

Energy Strategy delay: Johnson refusing to take action

Responding to the Government's long-awaited energy strategy being delayed, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey MP said:

“Millions of families are facing sky-rocketing energy bills and eye-watering inflation but the government still refuses to take any action to help. 

“Last week Rishi Sunak’s statement failed to support families and now Boris Johnson clearly has no real strategy to deal with the cost of the energy emergency. People deserve a government that will rise to the occasion and take action needed to help.”


Friday, March 25, 2022

Ofcom appointment: process rigged from the start

Responding to the Government choosing Conservative peer Michael Grade as the chair of Ofcom, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for DCMS Jamie Stone MP said:

"This process has been rigged from the start. Michael Grade’s obvious dislike of his former workplaces BBC and Channel 4 should have ruled him out from the get go.

"In the midst of the Ukraine crisis and the past years of pandemic, the chair of Ofcom should be a strong independent voice defending the integrity of our iconic public broadcasters - not a card carrying Conservative critic hurling abuse from the sidelines.”

Lib Dems table amendment to reduce Sunak’s £2.1bn tax raid by increasing NI threshold rise now

The Conservatives’ manifesto-breaking rise to National Insurance will come into force on April 6th, hitting families with a tax rise of around £360 just as energy bills go up over 50%. Meanwhile, the Chancellor’s announcement he will be increasing the threshold people start paying National Insurance won’t take effect until July 6th.

It means that for three months, families will feel the full force of Rishi Sunak’s tax hike without any cushioning from the raising of the National Insurance threshold. According to analysis by the Liberal Democrats, this delay will mean families face an extra tax hit of £2.1 billion, compared to if the threshold was increased immediately.

The Liberal Democrat amendment would save the typical worker £80, helping to cushion the blow of Conservative tax rises.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP, who tabled the amendment, said:

“This Spring Statement has been shown up as one great scam. Rishi Sunak is hammering the British people with unfair tax rises, while dishonestly claiming it is a tax cut. 

“Even the small crumbs Sunak is offering are being delayed by another three months, meaning families face the full force of Sunak’s tax rises just as energy bills go through the roof.

“The Chancellor must offer people the help they need now, by raising the national insurance threshold immediately or simply scrapping his tax rise altogether. Every day of delay will cause more pain for families on the brink.”

P&O: Shapps must answer questions in Parliament over November meeting

Responding to news that the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps met with DP World in Dubai in November 2021 and that he was warned that P&O would be needing to make changes to their business, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business, Trade and Transport, Sarah Olney MP said:

"Grant Shapps has serious questions to answer about what he knew and when about P&O's plans to shamefully sack its workers. 

"The Transport Secretary must come before Parliament to provide the urgent answers that P&O workers and their families deserve.

"It's looks increasingly like Grant Shapps was asleep at the wheel, and missed vital opportunities to intervene and protect people's livelihoods. If that is the case, he would surely have no choice but to resign."

Breadgate: Sunak’s shown just how out of touch he is

Responding to Rishi Sunak's interview on BBC Breakfast in which he said 'we all have different breads in my house', Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:

“Rishi Sunak has shown just how out of touch he is with the British people.“This is his “let them eat cake” moment. While he talks about all his dough on morning television, millions of families watching are struggling with the worst fall in living standards in decades.“Sunak should stop swindling the British people and scrap his unfair tax hikes that are hitting people at the worst possible time.” 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Sunak’s small print reveals £44 billion tax bombshell by 2024

Rishi Sunak’s tax hikes will lead to a £44 billion bombshell by 2024, equivalent to almost £1,600 per UK household.

The stark figures were buried in the small print of today’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) report accompanying the Spring Statement. It finds that the net impact of the tax policies announced by Rishi Sunak since March 2020, including today’s tax changes, will mean tax receipts are £43.8 billion higher in 2024-25.

The OBR also reveals the impact of Rishi Sunak’s stealth tax and freezing of income tax thresholds, which will cost taxpayers £17.5 billion a year. By 2025-26, 2.8 million low earners will be dragged into paying income tax and two million middle-earners will be dragged into the higher rate because of the freeze.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“This tax bombshell will send a shiver down the spine of families who are drowning in spiralling bills. 

“Rishi Sunak is trying to swindle the British public by burying the true cost of his disgraceful tax hikes. He has insulted millions of squeezed families across the country by thinking he can hide this in the small print. Rishi Sunak is following Boris Johnson’s lead by not being up front and honest with the country. 

Families need help, not tax rises. So what on earth is the Chancellor playing at?

“People are on the brink and need a lifeline today. That is why the Government must slash VAT today and finally scrap the shameful tax rise now just days away.” 

Spring Statement: Chancellor adding to pain of families

Responding to the Chancellor's Spring Statement, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:

“Families were looking to the Chancellor to offer them hope, instead he is adding to their pain by refusing to scrap his unfair tax rises. 

“People seeing the biggest plunge in living standards in fifty years will see through the Chancellor’s spin.
“Rishi Sunak has failed to introduce a windfall tax on the super profits of oil and gas producers, which could have raised billions to help people with their energy bills. And he has refused to bring in an emergency cut to VAT, as Liberal Democrats have called for, which would put £600 back into the pockets of the average family.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Oligarch ditches UK mansions after government sanctions delay

Responding to reports that Russian* oligarch Alisher Usmanov was able to offload his UK properties before UK sanctions came into effect, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

“The Conservative Government’s dither and delay on sanctions has meant that Putin’s cronies have once again gotten away with it. It took Ministers weeks to put the proper sanctions into place - meanwhile, it looks like oligarchs were fire-selling their assets all that time. 

“Where oligarchs have transferred their holdings to their families, those relatives must be immediately sanctioned. Putin’s cronies’ properties and assets in the UK should now be seized - funding an oligarch tax to help people with spiralling energy bills.”

*Usmanov is an Uzbek by birth and upbringing, but his interests and those of his wife are closely bound up with Putin's Kremlin

Nationality and Borders Bill: A traffickers’ charter that will cause deaths in the Channel

Following votes in the House of Commons on the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, where Conservative MPs voted to overturn cross-party amendments passed in the Lords, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

“Priti Patel’s Anti-Refugee Bill is a traffickers’ charter. By voting for it, Conservative MPs have voted for deaths in the Channel.

“Taking away any safe and legal route for refugees to reach the UK will only force them to take dangerous ones.

“The real problem is entirely a structural one of incompetence in the Home Office, and this Bill will do nothing to fix it. It will only make it worse.

“The UK has a glorious, centuries-old reputation as a place of sanctuary. We will not let that be sullied by this puny little Government.”

Patel must stop her assault on British rights and freedoms

Following votes in the House of Lords to restore amendments protecting the right to protest, that were overturned by the Government in the Commons last month, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“Today the Liberal Democrats have struck another blow against the Conservatives’ anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition and trample people’s fundamental rights.

“Now that Peers from all parties have defeated Priti Patel’s draconian proposals for a second time, surely Conservative MPs must now think again. The Government should listen to police officers and the public, and stop their assault on British rights and freedoms.

“The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a crucial part of the UK’s democratic society. Liberal Democrats will always fiercely defend it.”

Monday, March 21, 2022

Ukraine crisis should force Patel to ditch Anti-Refugee Bill

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Priti Patel to withdraw the Nationality and Borders Bill in light of the war in Ukraine and ensuing refugee crisis.

MPs are set to debate some of the Bill’s most controversial aspects in the House of Commons tomorrow, including Government plans to:

  • Criminalise refugees simply for coming to the UK to seek asylum.

  • “Offshore” asylum seekers by sending them to another country while their claims are processed.

  • Create a second class of refugees with fewer rights and only temporary protection.

The Liberal Democrats worked with others in the House of Lords to pass amendments that would remove these laws from the Bill, highlighting that they would criminalise people fleeing Ukraine who come to the UK seeking asylum.

So far, 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin unleashed his war, according to the UNHCR. More than 150,000 people across the UK have offered to host Ukrainian refugees through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ programme, but so far the Government has only issued 10,200 visas under the Ukraine Family Scheme. 

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on the Government to begin airlifts to bring refugees from Poland directly to the UK.

Ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“The Conservatives’ Anti-Refugee Bill is dangerous and cruel. It flies in the face of the enormous compassion and generosity that people across the UK have shown in response to people fleeing Putin’s war in Ukraine.

“It beggars belief that Priti Patel is still trying to push this Bill through at a time when protecting refugees has never been so important. She should listen to the British people and ditch it now.

“The UK has a great history of providing sanctuary to desperate people fleeing war and persecution. This Anti-Refugee Bill undermines that proud British tradition and Liberal Democrats will continue to fiercely oppose it.”

Partygate investigation: Johnson must come clean if being interviewed by police

Responding to the Metropolitan Police update on their investigation into lockdown parties in Number 10, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“At a time of war in Europe and a cost-of-living crisis, Conservative MPs are keeping a criminal in Number 10. They can try and call it ‘fluff’, but everyone is seeing through Boris Johnson’s lies.

“Johnson must come clean: is he being interviewed by the police and will he resign if found to have broken the law? No more fluff, just the facts for all those who suffered during lockdown while he partied.”

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Research reveals 125,000 more workers to pay National Insurance in Sunak "stealth tax"

  • Nearly 125,000 more workers to be dragged into paying National Insurance next year, new research reveals.
  • Failure to increase the minimum threshold in line with inflation means workers and employees face an eye-watering £2.4 billion tax bombshell.

  • Small firms to be hit hard as businesses set to begin paying National Insurance on 200,000 more employees.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been accused of clobbering the country with yet another stealth tax, as new figures reveal 125,000 workers will be dragged into paying National Insurance next year.

The analysis from the House of Commons Library, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, looks at the impact of the government’s failure to increase the minimum earnings threshold at which people start paying National Insurance in line with inflation. 

The current minimum threshold is set to rise to £9,880 in April, an increase of just 3.1%. This is based on September’s inflation figure before energy bills began to rocket. 

The research shows that 135,000 more lower earners will pay National Insurance compared to if the earnings threshold was increased by 7.25%, the current rate of inflation for April as forecast by the Bank of England. This figure is made up of 95,000 employees and 30,000 self-employed workers.

In addition, millions more families will pay more tax on their earnings as a result of the move. Employees face a total hit of £1.1 billion because of the Chancellor’s refusal to increase the earnings threshold in line with inflation. The average worker on earnings of almost £32,000 will pay an extra £48 more in taxes a year, or almost £100 for a family with two middle-income earners, coming on top of the massive tax rises already announced by the government.

This move has been slammed by the Liberal Democrats as “yet another stealth tax”, clobbering families who are already facing the biggest squeeze on living standards in decades. The changes will also place a huge burden on employers, who will have to cough up an additional £1.2 billion, as they’ll be required to pay National Insurance on 200,000 extra workers’ salaries. Employers will face an extra hit of £850 per year as a result of the stealth tax.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding the Chancellor scrap this tax bombshell on low earners and employers by raising thresholds in line with inflation, while scrapping the unfair hike on National Insurance. The party is also calling for a boost to families and businesses through an emergency cut to VAT from 20% to 17.5%, saving households an average of £600 next year.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“Families are facing the worst squeeze in living standards in 50 years, but the Conservatives are clobbering people with yet more stealth taxes.

“This unfair move will drag thousands more people into paying tax, while millions more will see their tax bills rise yet again next year. Meanwhile small businesses struggling to stay afloat face a hidden tax on their employees' salaries.

“It is rubbing salt in the wound of the government’s broken promise not to raise National Insurance. Rishi Sunak must spike the hike, and offer families and businesses a lifeline by slashing VAT instead.”

Sunak shows he is "out of touch" on fuel poverty figures

Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s failure to answer how many people are being pushed into fuel poverty on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said: 

“Rishi Sunak doesn't even care enough to find out how many people he is condemning to fuel poverty. It shows he is completely out of touch with families worried sick about how to cope with soaring energy bills.

“People are desperate for help but the Conservatives’ response is to clobber them with an unfair tax rise.

“The Chancellor should use this week’s Spring Statement to put money back into people’s pockets, by finally scrapping this hated tax hike and slashing VAT.”

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Davey calls for emergency airlifts for Ukrainian refugees on Polish border

  • Ed Davey calls for emergency airlift to provide a safe and fast system to get Ukrainian refugees to security in the UK

  • He describes visit to Poland and Ukraine border and the lack of UK Government personnel on the ground in contrast to 19 other nations
  • He praises the UK volunteers on the Polish border and the generosity of the British public who are offering their homes

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called for an emergency airlift for Ukrainian refugees on the Polish border who want to reach the UK.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary, Ed Davey has suggested the UK Government must now provide free flights to the UK, with coaches to the nearest Polish airports from key border crossing points and welcoming reception centres for the refugees on arrival at the UK. 

It comes following the Liberal Democrat Leader's visit to the Polish border this week to meet with Ukrainian refugees and the charities supporting them. In contrast to the swift action of the British public to offer shelter and countless volunteers from the UK to help with the humanitarian crisis, Ed Davey was appalled by the absence of any UK Government personnel to provide swift and safe passage to those fleeing to the UK.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

“Boris Johnson’s reckless dismissal of security warnings about one wealthy Russian contrasts with his heartlessly inadequate response to countless Ukrainian women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs. This shames him and his Government.

“Emergency airlifts are now the best guarantee for these refugees to get to the UK safely and swiftly, to the kindness and compassion of the British public waiting for them.

“It was shocking to see so many other nations united and already helping refugees at a humanitarian aid centre near the Ukrainian-Polish border, whilst the UK Government had no-one.

“The queues of refugees are exhausted and traumatised. Surely these families have been through enough. It’s urgent that people are now airlifted to safety and help so they can start rebuilding their lives.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

New sanctions list: Shutting the door after the private jet has bolted

Responding to the government's new expanded sanctions list of Russian individuals, coming almost three weeks since Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

“This is shutting the door after the private jet has bolted. The Government has finally got their act together - but we should have been in this position weeks ago. This delay has given Putin’s cronies a priceless window to firesale their assets. 

“Now we need to go further. There are still too many associates of Putin getting away with it as we speak. 

“The fix to sanctions legislation is good news - but it means we can merely copy what our allies do. Liz Truss should bring proposals to Parliament to strengthen the legislation even further, so we can truly lead the way in clamping down on Kremlin-linked oligarchs.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Davey: Johnson must explain himself to Ukrainian refugees at Polish border

Speaking following his visit today to the border between Ukraine and Poland, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“Over 100,000 people have signed up and said that they will offer sanctuary to Ukrainian people in the UK. That is something we should all be proud of.

“It stands in direct contrast to the Conservative Government who have left people shivering at the border rather than helping find a way to safety.
“I’d like Boris Johnson to come here and meet some of these people, look them in the eye, and tell them why his government has spent three weeks telling them they are not welcome in our country.”

Homes for Ukraine: Refugees still trapped in bureaucratic limbo

Responding to the Government launching the “Homes for Ukraine” website for people to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

“Families and communities across the UK have been crying out for the chance to sponsor refugees for years. It shouldn’t have taken weeks of appalling humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine for the Government to finally listen.

“Even after the Government’s welcome U-turn and side-lining of Priti Patel from this scheme, the vast majority of Ukrainian refugees trying to get to the UK are still trapped in bureaucratic limbo, unable to come here. Michael Gove couldn’t even say when people will start to arrive under his new scheme.

“Ministers should do what the British people are urging them to do now: allow Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK today, without first having to apply.”

Economic Crime Bill: Lib Dems close ‘Oligarch Loophole’

The Liberal Democrats have closed a major "oligarch loophole" in the Economic Crime Bill after the Government accepted their crucial amendment.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Chris Fox both tabled an amendment to the legislation which sought to close a backdoor route for oligarchs to avoid meeting crucial anti-money laundering requirements contained within the Bill. 

The Bill establishes a register of beneficial ownership for overseas entities. However, as originally drafted, it gives the Government the power to grant individuals - which could include Kremlin-linked oligarchs - an exemption from its registration requirements on the broad basis of “the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom”. 

The Liberal Democrats warned that this loophole could give ‘carte blanche’ to oligarchs and their enablers to aggressively lobby the Government for exemptions - with the risk that Kremlin-linked individuals continue to operate in the shadows, with no transparency around the ownership of their assets and no disruption to their operations in this country.

Last evening, as the bill was fast-tracked through the House of Lords, the Government confirmed they will accept the Liberal Democrat amendment and drop the loophole from the bill altogether.

Commenting on the news Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, said:

“This is a good day for all those who have argued that we should be clamping down on Putin’s cronies.

"I am pleased that the Government has seen sense on this vital measure and backed Liberal Democrat proposals. It simply would have been unsustainable to pass this crucial legislation without closing this oligarch loophole.

“We must be in no doubt, Putin’s cronies and their enablers will be poring over this new legislation looking for ways to get around it. We might have shut this backdoor route - but we should be in no illusions about what they will do next.

“So there is still much more to do - starting with using these new powers to catch-up with our allies. We are lagging behind in terms of sanctions when we should be leading the way. It’s time to end the era of Russian interference in the UK, once and for all.”

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Lib Dems warm of Blue Wall Farmers revolt - “We are now the party that Backs British Farmers”

The Liberal Democrats have put the Conservatives' former rural heartlands on notice at their conference this weekend. It comes as the party has passed sweeping reform aimed at targeting the farming community that is “fed up with being taken for granted by the Government”.

The push to win the farming community comes after the North Shropshire by-election which caused a political earthquake in true blue Shropshire. 

Now the party is gearing up to win over farmers in the May elections where eyes are on the blue walls of rural heartlands in places like Somerset, Herefordshire and Westmorland - key Lib Dem, Conservative battlegrounds in May. 

Alongside the “Back British Farmers” party policy reform the Liberal Democrats have also launched specialised farmers campaigning packs for local Lib Dems to gain support from farmers and paint true blue rural heartlands in orange diamonds. 

The new focus on farmers comes as they become more furious at the Government for their handling of trade deals that undercut British business. The Government is also phasing out existing farm payments. In December farmers faced a 5% reduction in support payments, with some facing even larger cuts. This is despite the new system of support payments not being fully rolled out until 2028.

It comes as the National Farmers Union has also launched a scathing attack on the Government calling the Conservatives policies on Farming “contradictory”. 

Liberal Democrat Farming Spokesperson and former Leader Tim Farron MP said:

“The Conservatives don’t understand farmers or what they do for our country. Because of this they will see a revolt from farmers up and down the country as they have done nothing but take them for granted and ignore their concerns. 

“Farmers have been at the bottom of the pile with this Government constantly overlooked and ignored. This May they have a chance to send a message and shake the Blue Walls rural routes to its core. 

“The Liberal Democrats are now the natural party of farmers, we want a fair deal for them. That’s why our conference will see us give a direct pitch to them as people that keep our country going.” 

Liberal Democrat North Shropshire by-election winner Helen Morgan MP said: 

“Here in Shropshire, farmers are the bedrock of our community. During the by-election they told me that they had been desperately let down by the Conservatives and wanted to send them a message they couldn't ignore. They sent that message and now this Government is on notice - take farmers for granted at your peril.” 

Oligarch mansions: At this rate there won't be any left to seize

Responding to Michael Gove saying the Government is considering the seizure of oligarch's mansions to house Ukrainian refugees, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“This is the right move but once again the Government is moving so slowly that they risk letting Kremlin-linked oligarchs off the hook.“The Tories have managed to take money off Russian oligarchs for years and never found it as difficult as they seem to now.“So far the Government has sanctioned just 18 oligarchs, fewer than one a day since the invasion. At this rate there won’t be any oligarchs’ mansions left to seize - they’ll all have sold up and fled the country.”

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Lib Dems call for action to improve air quality

The Liberal Democrats have blasted the Government for its slowness in taking action on air pollution, the cause of thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK. 

The Party passed a motion at its Spring Conference yesterday which called for a greater empowering of local authorities and the introduction of stricter, legally-binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants.

In 2019, fine particulate matter was responsible for more than 33,000 deaths while nitrogen dioxide was responsible for a further 5,750. In spite of this, UK limits for both are set at four times the level of the World Health Organisation guidelines.

Under the proposals, local authorities would receive greater funding to tackle air pollution in their area. This would allow them to install more pollution sensors near major roads and at every urban school, as well as publicising local air quality issues such as live data from those sensors.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for funding to be introduced to support a shift to clean fuels for public transport.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse MP, said:

“Air pollution is a killer. Thousands of people lose their lives each year, with many others suffering from ill health because of it. This is no legacy to leave to our children, who are in particular danger. It is heartbreaking and a damning indictment on the Conservatives, who have looked the other way.

“It is high time we put the power into the hands of local people and those who have directly suffered from the Government’s failure to act more quickly and urgently,

“The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone has the right to clean air. It is incumbent on this Conservative Government to do all they can to uphold that right, by tackling the air pollution crisis head on and cleaning up their act.”

Friday, March 11, 2022

Lib Dems demand tougher powers to sack ministers who breach ministerial code


The Liberal Democrats have called for tougher sanctions for ministers who break the ministerial code, including being fined or forced to resign.

The Liberal Democrats said that "partygate" showed that Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers can’t be trusted to mark their own homework and that urgent reforms are needed to restore faith in Parliament and the democratic process.

The party’s package of reforms include:

  • Putting the Ministerial Code into law and making sure it is fully independent of the prime minister.

  • Appointing an Independent Adviser to oversee the Code and  launch their own investigations 

  • Introducing a range of sanctions for those found to have broken the Ministerial Code. This could include apologies, fines, and demanding a minister’s resignation.

The proposals were voted on by party members at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference earlier today.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP, a former police officer who led an emergency debate on sleaze in November, commented:

“Time and again, Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers have dodged public scrutiny and behaved as though the rules don’t apply to them. 

“The current ministerial code is overseen by a toothless watchdog, allowing ministers to break the rules with impunity. That needs to change.

“We need to strengthen the ministerial code so that those who break the rules face proper consequences, including being fined or losing their job.

“This would ensure ministers are no longer allowed to mark their own homework, to prevent the rule-breaking and sleaze we’ve seen in recent years.”

Priti Patel still isn't making it easy for Ukrainian refugees

In response to Priti Patel's announcement that Ukrainians will be able to apply for their visas online and then complete their biometric documents upon arrival in the UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“It is shameful that the Home Secretary has to be dragged inch by inch towards a compassionate response to Ukrainian refugees fleeing Putin’s bombs.

“Even after all the appalling images we have seen, Priti Patel is still limiting the scheme to those with close family in the UK, and forcing them to apply for a visa before they come here. That has to change.

“The Government must listen to what people across the UK are saying: let Ukrainian refugees come here without having to apply for a visa beforehand, and welcome them with compassion when they arrive.”

Abramovich sanctioned: We need to go further and faster

Responding to the news that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said: 

“The sanctioning of more individuals including Abramovich is well overdue. The Government must now confirm that these individuals’ mansions will be used to house Ukrainian refugees.

“The Foreign Secretary must also urgently assess whether these oligarchs have been able to sell off any of their assets due to the Government’s delay in acting.

“But we also need to go further and faster. There are hundreds of Kremlin-linked oligarchs and following this announcement, we have sanctioned just 18. It’s not good enough. With every day that goes by, Putin’s cronies will be fire-selling their assets and fleeing our jurisdiction."

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Davey: Send in armed forces personnel to help get Ukrainian refugees to the UK

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Boris Johnson to send in armed forces personnel to speed up safe routes for Ukrainian refugees to reach the UK.

It comes as the Home Office has been strongly criticised for failing to get to grips with the crisis, leaving Ukrainian families fleeing war struggling to get appointments and facing long delays to have their visa applications processed.

Speaking at PMQs yesterday, Ed Davey challenged the Prime Minister to help resolve the issue by deploying armed forces personnel to supplement Home Office and Border Force staff in Calais and at visa centres across Europe. This would help ensure refugees from Ukraine seeking to reach the UK are able to enter the country quickly and safely.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“The UK has a long and proud history of providing sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution.

“But the Home Office has failed to live up to that tradition, by turning away hundreds of Ukrainian refugees just because they don’t have the right paperwork.

“It is heartbreaking to see Ukrainian families fleeing this terrible war being stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare because of the government’s stubbornness and incompetence.

“The Home Office has shown it is clearly not up to the task. Boris Johnson must urgently sort out this mess and send armed forces personnel in, to speed up the process and help Ukrainian refugees arrive here quickly and safely.”

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Ukrainian visa centre in Lille is "yet more chaos and incompetence" from Home Office

Responding to the news that the Home Office's visa centre for Ukrainian refugees in Calais will be in Lille, 70 miles away, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

"This is yet more chaos and incompetence from the dysfunctional Home Office.

“Ukrainian families fleeing Putin's terror shouldn't be forced to wait for an appointment at a Home Office visa centre that doesn't even exist yet.

“People across the UK want to welcome Ukrainian refugees with compassion, but instead Priti Patel is trapping them in limbo. 

"Our country has a proud history of providing sanctuary for people fleeing war and persecution. The Government must live up to that now, with a simple, fast and safe route for refugees to come to the UK."

Russian oil ban: New Marshall plan needed to end addiction to fossil fuels

Responding to the news that the Government is to phase out Russian oil by the end of 2022, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

“The Conservatives are once again moving far too slowly to punish Putin for his illegal invasion of Ukraine. It’s not good enough to only ban Russian oil, there must be a ban on Russian gas too.
"The war in Ukraine has shown that Europe is simply too dependent on Russian oil and gas. People from Poland to the UK are inadvertently funding Putin's war when they fill up their cars or pay their bills.
"We need energy security and that means investment in renewables across Europe, from the UK's offshore wind to Norway's hydropower. A new Marshall Plan to end Europe's addiction to Russian fossil fuels.”

Ukrainians deserve better than being stuck in Home Office visa appointment queue


Responding to Home Office figures which show that just 300 visas have been issued to Ukrainian refugees under the Family Scheme, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“Ukrainians fleeing for their lives deserve far better than being stuck in a queue for a Home Office visa appointment.

“People across the UK want to welcome Ukrainian refugees with compassion, but instead Priti Patel is keeping them out with pointless extra bureaucracy. No amount of spin can disguise the inadequacy of her response. 
“Our country has a proud tradition of offering sanctuary to those in need. The Government should remember that and open a simple, fast and safe route for refugees to come to the UK.”