13 June 2019 – today’s press releases

For obvious reasons, I’m leaving out today’s big story, but otherwise… Failed Tory policies lead to nine-year knife crime high Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s latest knife and offensive weapon sentencing statistics, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said: The UK is facing an epidemic of knife crime, but the Conservative’s […]

For obvious reasons, I’m leaving out today’s big story, but otherwise…

Failed Tory policies lead to nine-year knife crime high

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s latest knife and offensive weapon sentencing statistics, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The UK is facing an epidemic of knife crime, but the Conservative’s cack-handed response is to repeat policies that have completely failed in the past.

Branding young people as criminals – whether by locking them up on destructive short prison sentences or giving them one of Sajid Javid’s gimmicky new knife ASBOs – traps them in a cycle of crime, creating more victims and making our streets less safe.

To make matters worse, we now have Boris Johnson running for Prime Minister boasting about the supposed success of his Stop & Search policies in London – even though his own Government’s analysis shows they didn’t cut knife crime and were a total waste of police time.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand a public health approach that understands why young people carry knives in the first place and addresses those causes. That means more community policing to make people feel safer and more youth services to provide a positive alternative to gangs.

Every child deserves to go to a great, local school

The Liberal Democrats have called for local councils to be given back control of the school admissions process following new data released today by the Department for Education which reveals that the proportion of pupils getting their first choice of secondary school has fallen for the sixth year in a row.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Rising pupil numbers and a fragmented schools system means that more and more children are missing out on their first choice of secondary school.

Local councils have a duty to ensure that every child has a school place, but are powerless to deliver it. Academies control their own admissions policies while Conservative Ministers have banned councils from sponsoring new schools.

The Tory party’s obsession with academies has created chaos in the education system yet has brought few educational benefits.

Liberal Democrats would hand back control of the admissions process and school places planning to elected local councils, so that every child can go to a great, local school.

Lib Dems: Time for Govt to back rights for cohabiting couples

Responding to the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill in Parliament today, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson in the Lords Jonathan Marks QC said:

The Liberal Democrats welcome these changes to divorce laws, for which we have been pressing the Government for some time. No-one should have to prove fault to get a divorce and no-one should be trapped in a marriage against their will after it has broken down.

Far too often the existing law turns what should be a collaborative process into a damaging blame game, which helps no-one and is frequently damaging for their children.

However, we also recognise that marriage and civil partnerships aren’t for everyone. The law needs to catch up with modern society, in which millions of couples choose to live together without making a formal commitment. They need rights too, to protect them if their relationship breaks down or if one partner dies.

That’s why I am trying to bring in my Cohabitation Rights Bill, which would give essential legal rights to couples who have lived together for at least three years. I hope the Government will stop dragging its feet on this issue and support my Bill, so that we can make another change that is long overdue.

12 June 2019 – today’s press releases

Leaked memo confirms no-deal Brexit medicine fears Farron calls for new deal to fix broken social care system at PMQs Lords pass Lib Dem law to raise age of criminal responsibility Lib Dems: We must ensure next PM cannot shutdown Parliament Leaked memo confirms no-deal Brexit medicine fears Responding to a leaked Cabinet note revealing […]

  • Leaked memo confirms no-deal Brexit medicine fears
  • Farron calls for new deal to fix broken social care system at PMQs
  • Lords pass Lib Dem law to raise age of criminal responsibility
  • Lib Dems: We must ensure next PM cannot shutdown Parliament

Leaked memo confirms no-deal Brexit medicine fears

Responding to a leaked Cabinet note revealing the UK will not be ready for a no-deal Brexit by October 31st because is will take “six to eight months” to build up supplies of medicines, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:

This Government document will be extremely concerning to people who rely on medicines like insulin to stay alive.

It is unacceptable that senior Tory figures running to be leader are suggesting that we could leave on the 31 October when documents are showing the exact opposite.

The candidates for Tory leadership must be honest. No deal is not a reality, it has never been a reality.

The only options are a people’s vote with an option to remain or Theresa May’s universally disliked deal. Only by stopping Brexit can we ensure a safe supply of medicines.

Farron calls for new deal to fix broken social care system at PMQs

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron used today’s Prime Minister’s Questions session to call for the establishment of a new cross-party group to bring forward a new deal to fix Britain’s social care system.

Speaking on the floor of the House of Commons, Tim said:

This logjammed and underworked Parliament could become one of the best if we chose to work across party to fix our broken social care system.

Through free votes, good will and hard work, we could design and then enact a new deal for social care that could give millions hope for the future.

As one of her final acts as Prime Minister, will she commit to meet me and establish a cross party group so that we can bring this social care new deal to fruition?

In response, Theresa May said that it was important that Britain’s social care system has a sustainable future and that she hopes that the Government will bring forward a social care green paper to Parliament soon which MPs of all parties would be able to contribute towards.

Speaking afterwards, Tim Farron said:

My suggestion is that we use the Local Government Association’s green paper on social care which has already been put together by councillors from parties of all colours as a good place to start.

What I want is for MPs to work together for a couple of months to design and bring forward a bill so this Parliament, which at the moment is so rightly derided, might actually do one of the best things that’s ever been done by any Parliament.

Lords pass Lib Dem law to raise age of criminal responsibility

Today, the Liberal Democrat bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility has passed in the House of Lords.

The Bill, introduced by the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords Navnit Dholakia, will amend the age of criminal responsibility in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 from ten to twelve.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Law Society, the Children’s Commissioners, the Royal Society, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children have all called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised.

Commenting on the passing of his Bill, Navnit Dholakia said:

I am delighted to see my bill, which will raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12, pass in the House of Lords today. This draconian provision was last amended over 50 years ago and is completely out of touch with modern society.

The UK’s age of criminal responsibility is the lowest in Europe and the United Nations has repeatedly stated our current age of criminal responsibility is not compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Taking 10 or 11 years-olds out of the adult justice system does not mean failing to act when they offend, it simply means treating them as children when they do. This may be a simple reform, but it will change the shape of our criminal justice system going forward.

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

Our criminal justice system must have a child-centred approach when dealing with young offenders – we need reform urgently.

It is vital children are not given life-altering sentences at such a young age as well as being exposed to the detrimental impact of detention. The Liberal Democrats strongly believe in raising the age of criminal responsibility to bring the UK’s justice system in line with modern society and I look forward to supporting this Bill’s passage in the House of Commons.

Lib Dems: We must ensure next PM cannot shutdown Parliament

Today the government have stopped MPs from taking control of Parliamentary business on 25th June as part of the attempt to block a no-deal Brexit.

Following the vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

Crashing out of the EU without a deal would be catastrophic for our NHS, jobs, and the environment. That is undeniable and it is reckless and underhand to suggest otherwise.

Liberal Democrats will continue to do everything in our power to take no-deal off the table. Whoever the next Prime Minister is, we cannot allow them to damage our country as they attempt to shutdown Parliament and ride roughshod over our democracy.

12 June 2019 – the overnight press release

Missed waiting time targets put lives at risk Responding to a report conducted by the Public Accounts Committee which concludes that the failure to meet waiting time targets is putting lives at risk, PAC member and Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: This report provides a vital contribution at a time when the Government is […]

Missed waiting time targets put lives at risk

Responding to a report conducted by the Public Accounts Committee which concludes that the failure to meet waiting time targets is putting lives at risk, PAC member and Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

This report provides a vital contribution at a time when the Government is reviewing waiting time standards. The delays we are seeing not only put lives in danger, but extend the time patients and families are struggling with worry, stress and pain.

With waiting times being missed on this scale, the Conservative Government must not scrap waiting times, but ensure the NHS has the resources and staff to meet the targets. If waiting times are deprioritised, or abandoned, the result could mean worse care for patients. This is unacceptable and the Liberal Democrats demand better.

We would invest money in preventive services and early intervention to reduce pressure on hospitals. A penny on the pound on income tax would provide an immediate £6 billion to our NHS to start this process. Liberal Democrats would combine this with a national workforce strategy to ensure that there are enough hospital doctors and nurses to provide time and effective care for all patients.

11 June 2019 – today’s press releases

Regular readers may wonder where this feature disappeared to over the past week or so. The answer, North Macedonia and Georgia, and fascinating both countries were too. But there’s always a point where you have to come home… Davey: MI5 revelations “a shocking breach of civil liberties” Responding to today’s High Court hearing over MI5’s […]

Regular readers may wonder where this feature disappeared to over the past week or so. The answer, North Macedonia and Georgia, and fascinating both countries were too. But there’s always a point where you have to come home…

Davey: MI5 revelations “a shocking breach of civil liberties”

Responding to today’s High Court hearing over MI5’s collection and storage of bulk data, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

These revelations represent a shocking breach of civil liberties by one of the agencies tasked with safeguarding them.

The Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed giving MI5 powers to collect bulk communications data, and the serious issues raised by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner show that we were right to do so.

Parliament needs to look again at the surveillance powers we give MI5 and other agencies, and roll back laws that unnecessarily erode privacy and liberty.

May’s hostile environment undermines fight against modern slavery

Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech on modern slavery at the International Labour Organization, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable said:

Critical to tackling modern slavery is scrapping the hostile environment policies the Prime Minister has pursued, which make it far too hard for victims to come forward.

A central register of businesses’ modern slavery statements is a welcome but too-limited development. The Government must require those statements to include actual measures to deal with slavery – something the law currently doesn’t do.

And until enforcement agencies are given the resources they need to conduct proactive inspections, far too many people will continue to be exploited.

Net zero target made harder to achieve with Brexit

Responding to Theresa May’s announcement that the UK will today table legislation to set a target for net zero carbon emission by 2050, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Climate change is a threat that doesn’t start and stop at international borders. It is therefore disappointing that in her last days in Downing Street Theresa May still doesn’t have the real ambition our country needs; to push the UK towards being net zero by 2045 with interim and transparent targets. We must demand better.

By stopping Brexit we can ensure the UK continues to be a leader on climate change in the European Union. Through working with our European allies we can set higher EU standards, increase investment in energy efficiency as well as introducing an EU wide ban on fracking and a binding international treaty to end plastic waste.

30 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems urge ‘No to No-Deal’ coalition The Liberal Democrats have today reached out to MPs from across the political spectrum in a bid to form a ‘No to No-Deal’ coalition ahead of the Conservative Party leadership contest. The move comes as a host of Conservative Party leadership hopefuls, including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, […]

Lib Dems urge ‘No to No-Deal’ coalition

The Liberal Democrats have today reached out to MPs from across the political spectrum in a bid to form a ‘No to No-Deal’ coalition ahead of the Conservative Party leadership contest.

The move comes as a host of Conservative Party leadership hopefuls, including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, have said they would be willing to leave the EU without a deal if they become Prime Minister.

Tom Brake MP, the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson, has written to MPs representing the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Change UK, Plaid Cymru and the Greens in order to form a cross-party group to improve coordination between the parties fighting a No-Deal Brexit, both inside and outside Parliament.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

With the Tory leadership contenders outbidding each other to claim they are eager to inflict the hardest No Deal imaginable on the UK, opponents of No Deal must get organised.

The stakes could not be higher. A Prime Minister committed to No-Deal would spell chaos for British families, businesses, consumers and travellers. Parliament must therefore reassert its will.

The best chance we have of stopping a no-deal is if all like-minded colleagues work together and present a united front. The Liberal Democrats are ready to do so and ultimately ensure the people have the final say on Brexit, with the option to stay in the EU.

Corbyn’s comments show nothing has changed

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on a people’s vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Leader of the Labour Party’s fudged fence-sitting position on Brexit continues. Despite Labour’s dire performance at the EU elections, we still see Corbyn peddling the same caveated promises on a people’s vote. Yet this is the only real way out of the chaos of Brexit.

Actions speak louder than words. As Corbyn expels individuals, for the apparently extreme action of voting Liberal Democrat, it’s clear nothing changes at the top of the Labour Party.

The Liberal Democrats are honest and unequivocal about our opposition to Brexit and have been leading the fight for a final say on Brexit, as the strongest Remain party.

30 May 2019 – the overnight press releases

Davey: Stopping Brexit only solution on citizens’ rights Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on the EU Settled Status scheme, published today [Thurs 30th May], Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: The Liberal Democrats have long been warning that Brexit will create a new Windrush Scandal. No one really believes that […]

Davey: Stopping Brexit only solution on citizens’ rights

Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on the EU Settled Status scheme, published today [Thurs 30th May], Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Liberal Democrats have long been warning that Brexit will create a new Windrush Scandal.

No one really believes that the Home Office will successfully grant Settled Status to all 3.6 million EU citizens before the arbitrary 2021 deadline. And no one should be reliant on a Home Office IT system to prove their right to live and work in the UK.

We support any efforts to improve the scheme, but the only way to properly guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU is to stop Brexit altogether through a People’s Vote.

Moran: Augar Review will con students into thinking they are paying less for a degree

Responding to the Augar Review, published today [Thurs 30th May], Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

The Conservatives have conjured up a con trick that makes 7 in 10 new graduates pay more for having attended university.

For most students, cutting tuition fees will not reduce how much they pay by a single penny. In fact, these recommendations make low- and middle-income graduates pay back their loans for longer.

Theresa May’s swansong will leave universities with a budget black hole. Her successor must confirm that they will provide grant funding to cover the costs of cutting tuition fees, as Augar has suggested. If not, many universities will cut widening participation budgets and drop subjects that are too expensive to teach.

At least the review recommends bringing back maintenance grants, but it fails to tackle the sky-high interest rates on student loans after graduation.

By contrast, Augar’s recommendations on further, adult and vocational education are promising. But he could learn from the more flexible approach taken by the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for a Personal Education and Skills Account, which would give every adult the opportunity to learn for free wherever they want, whenever they want, with careers guidance in place to support them along the way.

But these proposals for universities cannot simply be rubber-stamped. The Conservatives cannot be allowed to put headlines above rational policymaking.

28 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Winning is, it has to be admitted, so much better than losing, but the ramifications of the European Parliamentary elections keep coming. A block of sixteen MEPs are a significant factor in choosing who leads Europe for the next five years, and Liberal Democrats have an opportunity to be heard at the top table, with […]

Winning is, it has to be admitted, so much better than losing, but the ramifications of the European Parliamentary elections keep coming. A block of sixteen MEPs are a significant factor in choosing who leads Europe for the next five years, and Liberal Democrats have an opportunity to be heard at the top table, with seven Liberal members of the European Council.

And today’s press releases give you a flavour of the possibilities…

  • Corbyn remains a block to Labour support for a People’s Vote
  • Catherine Bearder elected to lead Lib Dem MEPs
  • Prime Ministers meet to discuss election result

Corbyn remains a block to Labour support for a People’s Vote

Responding to Diane Abbott’s comments that Labour should support a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Labour suffered their worst-ever performance in a UK-wide election this week. Voters rightly punished the Labour leadership for ignoring their concerns and aiding and abetting this Tory Brexit mess.

It is galling that it has taken the Labour Party to get a drubbing at the polls for people like Diane Abbott to think again. It just shows that for Labour it has always been party interest before the country’s interest.

Jeremy Corbyn remains a block in the road. If he refuses to budge, Labour MPs must be ready to remove him. Meantime, Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign full-throttle to give people the final say, with the option to stay in the EU.

Catherine Bearder elected to lead Lib Dem MEPs

The Liberal Democrat MEPs have today elected Catherine Bearder MEP as the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament following the first meeting of the MEP group today.

Following the best ever European Election result in the party’s history, Catherine Bearder MEP will lead a group of 16 Liberal Democrat MEPs as the party continues to campaign to stop Brexit.

Speaking after the announcement, Catherine Bearder MEP said:

I am delighted to be elected as the leader for the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament.

Our main priority will be to stop Brexit and with 16 MEPs we will ensure our message is heard loud and clear in Brussels.

We will also fight for those EU and UK citizens who were denied a vote on this election.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable MP added:

Catherine led the charge for British liberalism in Brussels during a difficult five years for the party.

She has consistently kept the Remain flame alight, as well as being a leading voice on environmental protection and the fight against wildlife trafficking.

With a firm grasp of how the EU institutions work, and how to get things done, I know she will lead our new team of 16 with distinction. She has a group with an impressive body of experience in the European Parliament to complement the talent of our many new MEPs.

We are now the second largest liberal delegation in the European Parliament, and I look forward to our MEPs making a real mark as the Union sets its agenda and chooses a new Commission for the coming five years.

Prime Ministers meet to discuss election result

At the invitation of ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen and ALDE Group leader Guy Verhofstadt, liberal Prime Ministers and European Commissioners met at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Tuesday 28 May, ahead of the informal dinner of heads of state or government of the same day.

The leaders of Ciudadanos (Spain), Albert Rivera; Liberal Democrats (UK), Sir Vince Cable; and the Free Democratic Party (Germany) Christian Lindner also joined the meeting.

The key topic under discussion was the result of the 2019 European elections, which was a victory for liberal and pro-European forces across Europe.

European Elections 2019: results from across the sea… (part 2)

For earlier results, check out part 1… First, an update. The BBC have got the Latvian result wrong, and our sister Party, Attistibai, have retained their seat. Unexpected that, the BBC getting it wrong… Time to look at some of the bigger stories, and we start with Romania, where the USR have gained eight seats […]

For earlier results, check out part 1…

First, an update. The BBC have got the Latvian result wrong, and our sister Party, Attistibai, have retained their seat. Unexpected that, the BBC getting it wrong…

Time to look at some of the bigger stories, and we start with Romania, where the USR have gained eight seats as the main element of the Coalition Alliance 2020. The collapse of the ruling Social Democrats has been followed almost immediately by the news that the Prime Minister, Liviu Dragnea, has lost his appeal against a prison sentence for corruption. He’s already been transferred into captivity…

In France, President Macron’s Renaissance Coalition was narrowly beaten by Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National. The right wing are pretty excited about this, but their vote was no higher than in the 2017 Presidential election, whilst the pro-Macron vote fell by nearly 4%. Nothing really to see here, I’m afraid. But Renaissance have elected 21 MEPs, and will form the largest national group in the new ALDE coalition in the European Parliament.

Next, to Spain, where Ciudadanos have won seven seats. I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan, in that they’re centrists rather than liberals, and really more centre-right than centre. They have also appeared at anti-government rallies with Vox, the new reactionary right-wing grouping, and oppose Catalan separatism – their perceived influence on ALDE’s decision to expel its Catalan member party was not wholly appreciated.

Setting aside the resurgent Liberal Democrats, the other significant group in the new Parliament is ANO, from the Czech Republic, with six MEPs, up two from last time. The senior member of the Czech government, they have defied the usual effect of being in power and reaped the rewards.

The latest estimate for the size of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament is 109, from twenty-two Member States, broken down as follows;

  • France – 21
  • United Kingdom – 17
  • Germany – 8
  • Romania – 8
  • Spain – 8
  • Czech Republic – 6
  • Netherlands – 6
  • Denmark – 5
  • Belgium – 4
  • Bulgaria – 3
  • Estonia – 3
  • Finland – 3
  • Sweden – 3
  • Hungary – 2
  • Lithuania – 2
  • Luxembourg – 2
  • Slovakia – 2
  • Slovenia – 2
  • Austria – 1
  • Croatia – 1
  • Ireland – 1
  • Latvia – 1

The next few weeks are going to be interesting, as the main political groupings jostle for position, and for jobs in the new administration.

European Elections 2019: results from across the sea… (part 1)

Overnight, we’ve had some of the results come in, and we’ll start with the bad news first, with none of our ALDE sister parties gaining seats in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta or Portugal. We had only held seats in Portugal (two), but the combined vote of the three liberal parties totalled just 2.41%. Little […]

Overnight, we’ve had some of the results come in, and we’ll start with the bad news first, with none of our ALDE sister parties gaining seats in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta or Portugal. We had only held seats in Portugal (two), but the combined vote of the three liberal parties totalled just 2.41%.

Little change in the Baltics thus far, although in Estonia, the opposition Reform Party gained voting share and won overall, retaining their two seats, whilst the Centre Party lost significant voting share having gone into coalition with the far-right and nationalists. They retained their solitary seat in the European Parliament.

Across the Gulf of Finland next, where Keskusta have lost a seat, whilst the Swedish People’s Party are confirmed as having held their one seat.

Next, to Denmark, and good news for ALDE member parties Venstre and Radikale Venstre, who’ve both gained a seat…

The Free Democrats have made minor gains in Germany, having improved their position from 2014, when they only just scraped back into the Parliament, wining five seats (up 2). They’ll be joined by the Free Voters, who have won two seats.

In Benelux, good news for the Democratic Party in Luxembourg, who’ve gained a second of the nations’s six seats on the Parliament, and for the VVD in the Netherlands, who have gone from three seats to four. Unfortunately, that’s balanced by two losses for our particularly close sister party, D’66.

European Elections 2019: Scotland and Northern Ireland declare, and the inquests begin…

12.28 Good afternoon, one and all, as we return to our coverage of the United Kingdom voting in the European Parliament elections. And it’s (admittedly expected) good news from Scotland, where Sheila Ritchie is confirmed as our sixteenth member of the Parliament. RESULT: UK regional MEPs elected for Scotland See full results for the UK: […]

12.28 Good afternoon, one and all, as we return to our coverage of the United Kingdom voting in the European Parliament elections. And it’s (admittedly expected) good news from Scotland, where Sheila Ritchie is confirmed as our sixteenth member of the Parliament.

It’s not going terribly well at Conservative Home, I’m afraid, where the shattered faithful have drawn the obvious (at least to them) conclusion that Brexit must be delivered harder and faster. Good luck with that in places like Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead and Tandridge.

It’s not time to gloat though, for we know only too well what it’s like to suffer gruesome defeat.

Labour List are a bit more reflective, and the argument about whether or not to support a People’s Vote rages on. One interesting suggestion is that their current stance is designed for a General Election scenario, but I am personally sceptical about the viability of that argument. For, whatever stance you take on Brexit, there is little doubt that people are taking sides, and not that keen on compromise. And where is the space in which some compromise might exist, anyway?