25 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems produce Bill to properly tackle plastics crisis Today, Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Environment, will present his Plastic Pollution Bill to Parliament. The Bill will set targets to help fix our plastics crisis and require the Secretary of State to publish a strategy for the reduction of plastic pollution. The […]

Lib Dems produce Bill to properly tackle plastics crisis

Today, Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Environment, will present his Plastic Pollution Bill to Parliament.

The Bill will set targets to help fix our plastics crisis and require the Secretary of State to publish a strategy for the reduction of plastic pollution.

The Bill has been backed by a cross-party group of MPs as well as Friends of the Earth and the Women’s Institute.

Ahead of presenting his Bill, Mr Carmichael said:

Plastic pollution is the scourge of our oceans. The Government must start taking action to reduce our plastic to change our throwaway culture. The answer will need international cooperation but the UK can give a lead for other countries to follow.

The Government’s approach has been about grabbing headlines on easy parts of the agenda – banning cotton buds and plastic straws. That approach falls far short of the proper plan we need for banning single-use plastic.

To make a true difference in our oceans, we must do more than the Government’s current piecemeal approach. My Bill will allow the UK to lead the way in challenging consumer behaviour. We need to eliminate plastic pollution from our seas by aiming to end the use all non-essential single-use plastics within six years.

Lib Dems: Nearly 600 deaths on our streets is a ‘national disgrace’

Figures released this morning show that of the 597 homelessness deaths in 2017, Manchester (21) and Birmingham (18) were the cities worst affected, with Bristol, Lambeth and Liverpool (all 17), also registering more than one death a month.

Responding to these statistics, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who has introduced legislation to scrap the archaic Vagrancy Act, said:

The fact that nearly 600 people died on our streets in 2017 is not just a tragedy, it is a national disgrace of which we should be deeply ashamed.

These figures show that all over the country, our homelessness crisis is at epidemic levels and people are indefensibly losing their lives. We must do more to protect vulnerable people and support those at their lowest ebb.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We want the Government to be building up to 100,000 social homes a year, provide accommodation and support to those in need, and finally back my Bill to scrap the Vagrancy Act.

Moran: Use of Vagrancy Act should shame the Govt

A Freedom of Information request has shown that 6,518 ‘offenders’ were found guilty under the Vagrancy Act (1824) between the years 2014 to 2017 in England and Wales.

The Metropolitan Police were the most likely force to use the Act, which criminalises rough sleepers, averaging 459 convictions a year. West Midlands police force area averaged 161, and Merseyside averaged 148 per year.

Commenting on the findings, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who has brought forward legislation to scrap the Vagrancy Act, said:

The Government, and local authorities, should be ashamed that they have continued to allow the use of a law that makes rough sleeping a criminal offence, and for it to be used so prolifically with little regard for the people afflicted.

This law was controversial 200 years ago, and it has no place in a modern, compassionate society.

I call on the Government to back my cross-party campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act, a Bill which criminalises and degrades the most vulnerable, and should bring shame to those who allow its use.

Labour must back a People’s Vote with an option to stay

Responding to Labour’s Brexit policy announcement, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

We welcome this news, this could be a defining moment in the Liberal Democrat campaign for a People’s Vote.

My party will work with Labour and others to secure a People’s Vote with an option to remain.

We have long argued it is the right and logical thing to do for the people to have the final say on Brexit.

We welcome any MPs who share this crucial aim.

19 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised no-deal preparations in Wales as “woeful” following a report from the Wales […]

  • Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit
  • Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector
  • Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK

Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised no-deal preparations in Wales as “woeful” following a report from the Wales Audit Office, which critcised the lack of preparations made in case Britain leaves the European Union without a deal or transition period.

The Wales Audit Office report stated, ‘Wales needs to do more to prepare for possible no-deal Brexit.’ despite the Welsh Government having begun “intensifying” their no-deal preparations as far back as December 2018.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

Today’s report from the Welsh Auditor General highlights the lack of real preparations that have been undertaken in case we crash out of the EU with no deal. Whatever the UK and Welsh Governments say they’re doing to prepare for a no deal Brexit, it’s clearly not enough.

It is irresponsible of the UK Government to keep claiming that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ when that is clearly not the case. If we leave the EU with no deal it will be catastrophic for the Welsh economy, and for the UK. No-deal is simply too dangerous to be a valid option.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are clear. The best deal is the one we already have with the EU. We will continue to fight to ensure no-deal is taken off the table and to give the people the final say, with the option to choose an Exit from Brexit and put an end to this mess.

Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector

Responding to the speech by Jeremy Corbyn to the MAKE UK conference Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

In the last 48 hours, 7 of his MPs have left the party and 3500 more people look set to lose their jobs, at least in part down to Corbyn’s handling of Brexit.

If now is not the time for Corbyn to back his own party conference policy to back a People’s Vote on Brexit – then we should give up hope that he ever will.

Brexit is causing unbearable damage to our manufacturing sector and the communities that Jeremy Corbyn says he represents; it is time for him to stand with us and millions of others in calling for a People’s Vote with an option to stay in the EU.

Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain

Today in the House of Commons Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, questioned Greg Clark on the failure of his Industrial Strategy in relation to Honda’s decision to close its Swindon car plant.

In the chamber Mr Carmichael asked the Secretary of State:

This is not a one-off incident, it comes off the back of similar decisions from Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover.

This is the precisely the sort of thing the Secretary of State’s Industrial strategy was designed to address. Why is it he thinks that at the moment it isn’t working?

Following the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

Honda’s decision to leave the UK is just the latest in a long line of businesses which are abandoning the UK because of Brexit. The Prime Minister sought personal assurances that Honda would keep producing cars in the UK, making this incredibly humiliating for the Prime Minister.

Honda’s decision casts doubt on the long term future of the automobile industry in the UK, blowing a massive hole in the middle of the Government’s flagship Industrial Strategy.

Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK

Responding to the reports from Shamima Begum’s family lawyer that she will lose her UK citizenship, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Membership of a terrorist group is a serious crime, as is encouraging or supporting terrorism. But Shamima Begum should face justice for those crimes in the UK.

It is not only hard to see Ms Begum and her baby as constituting a serious threat to national security, but it also seems a huge wasted opportunity. We can learn lessons as to why a young girl went to Syria in the first place; lessons which could improve Britain’s security by helping us prevent this happening again.

18 February 2019 – today’s press

Amidst the conjecture caused by the launch of The Independent Group this morning, it might have been easy to forget that there’s plenty of other stuff going on… Lib Dems: Rail reform proposals signals change needed Govt consultations on plastic must be followed by action On short prison sentences, Tories say one thing and do […]

Amidst the conjecture caused by the launch of The Independent Group this morning, it might have been easy to forget that there’s plenty of other stuff going on…

  • Lib Dems: Rail reform proposals signals change needed
  • Govt consultations on plastic must be followed by action
  • On short prison sentences, Tories say one thing and do another
  • Cable: Honda decision another hammer blow to the UK economy
  • Lib Dems will work with like-minded MPs – Cable
  • Statement on the death of Paul Flynn

Lib Dems: Rail reform proposals signals change needed

Responding to the release of the report containing the Rail Delivery Group’s proposals to the Williams Rail Review, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

It has been long overdue for the Conservative Government to introduce the legislation needed to reform our outdated and unfair rail fares system. The proposals put forward by the industry which would modernise the way in which we pay for our train tickets are encouraging and it is now essential the Government sets the wheels in motion.

Simplifying the system and introducing smart ticketing would help transform what is an incredibly outdated system, invented before people bought their tickets online. Equally, with more and more people now working flexible hours it is vital the system offers fairer ticket prices to reflect the way modern businesses work.

With so many passengers wanting to overhaul the way they pay their rail fare, surely this should be something that Chris Grayling cannot delay.

Govt consultations on plastic must be followed by action

Responding to the Government’s launch of a number of consultations looking at overhauling the waste system, cutting plastic pollution, and moving towards a more circular economy, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael said:

Whilst the Government fail to get a grip of the crisis facing our environment, the detrimental effects to the UK’s wildlife continues. The Liberal Democrats have been clear about the need for a plastic bottle deposit scheme and the Conservative Government must follow through on these consultations with action.

The Liberal Democrats will also continue to fight for a ban on all single-use plastic within three years and the introduction of a levy on all producers and retailers that produce or use single-use plastics.

If the Conservative Government was as good at recycling plastic as they are at recycling consultations then our environment would be in better shape than it is. It is good that the Government is thinking of acting, but the problem is urgent and needs to be taken seriously.

On short prison sentences, Tories say one thing and do another

Responding to the Justice Secretary’s speech this morning where he advocated abolishing prison sentences of six months or less, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

I’m glad the Justice Secretary is finally accepting what the evidence – and the Liberal Democrats – have been saying for years: short prison sentences are destructive and just lead to more crime.

But even as he makes that admission, his Tory colleagues at the Home Office are busy introducing more short prison sentences in their Offensive Weapons Bill.

This Tory Government is saying one thing and doing another, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. Ministers must end short prison sentences and stop creating new ones.

Cable: Honda decision another hammer blow to the UK economy

Responding to the news that 3500 jobs will be lost at Honda, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

This is devastating news for the thousands of people employed at Honda’s plant in Swindon, and a further hammer blow to Britain’s reputation as a hub for global business.

Brexit may or may not be officially blamed, and we accept that other issues in the global economy are also a factor. Brexit uncertainty is weighing on the company, as is the inability of the UK Government to guarantee access to the recent EU-Japan trade deal.

We can still step back from the cliff edge and avoid economic disaster, by giving the public the final say on Brexit with the option to stay in the EU.

Lib Dems will work with like-minded MPs – Cable

Responding to the Labour party split, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

It is not unexpected, or unwelcome, that a group of Labour MPs have decided to break away from Corbyn’s Labour; in part motivated by his refusal to follow the party’s policy on Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats are open to working with like-minded groups and individuals in order to give the people the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU. We will be engaging in talks to progress both that campaign and a wider political agenda.

Statement on the death of Paul Flynn

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have paid tribute to Paul Flynn following his death yesterday.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

We were sorry to hear of the death of Paul Flynn. Paul had a tremendous career as an MP for over 30 years, serving Newport and Wales with commitment and distinction.

Paul was a fiercely independent thinker and was always willing to speak loudly about those issues he cared most about, whether that was poverty, Brexit, or medicinal marijuana.

Paul was a principled and hardworking public servant. Welsh and British politics could do with far more like him. He will be greatly missed.

15 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: Tories failing on air pollution New figures released today by the Department for the Environment show that emissions of air pollutants have not dropped significantly over the past three years, despite the Government promising to tackle air pollution as a priority. Responding to the figures, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, said: These […]

Lib Dems: Tories failing on air pollution

New figures released today by the Department for the Environment show that emissions of air pollutants have not dropped significantly over the past three years, despite the Government promising to tackle air pollution as a priority.

Responding to the figures, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, said:

These figures show that this Tory Government is failing to tackle air pollution, which they described themselves as ‘the biggest environmental threat to public health.’

Long-term exposure to these emissions can cause heart and lung problems as well as potentially contribute to cancers, with the young and the old being particularly vulnerable. People deserve better and Liberal Democrats demand better.

Liberal Democrats would pass a new Clean Air Act, giving people the legal right to unpolluted air wherever they live. New Clean Air Zones must also be brought forward in the most polluted towns and cities, and we would also restore subsidies to electric vehicles foolishly cut by the Tories.

Farron slams ‘Tory death tax’

Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron has taken a swipe at the Conservative Government ahead of the introduction of what he has dubbed a “Tory death tax”.

From 16th February, new regulations introduced by the Conservative Government mean the cost of death certificates, as well as birth and marriage certificates, is going up from £4 to £11.

Citizens Advice recommends people get “several copies of the [death] certificate, for which there will be a charge.” Upon losing a loved one, people now face a charge hike of £49, on the basis seven copies are purchased.

Mr Farron accused the Conservatives of introducing these measures “by the back door” as MPs have been denied a vote on them.

The former Leader of the Liberal Democrats added:

These regressive fees, charged to people just when they are grieving for loved ones, are nothing more than an insensitive death tax.

People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. Profiteering off the back of people losing loved ones should bring shame on those who call themselves ‘compassionate conservatives.

Rise in eating disorder hospital admissions shows desperate need for early intervention

Responding to the figures showing there has been a dramatic rise in hospital admissions for eating disorders in the last year, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said:

Eating disorders are life threatening illnesses, but the real tragedy is that this is preventable. By focusing on early intervention, the numbers of those suffering with eating disorders could be greatly reduced.

The Liberal Democrats demand better for those suffering with eating disorders. The Government must extend access to Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services up to the age of 25 as well as introducing waiting time targets for adults as well as children.

Equally, on average, medical students receive less than two hours of teaching on eating disorders throughout their undergraduate training. By improving training we will be able to greatly improve early intervention and give those suffering the help they so desperately need.

9-10 February 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

It may be that Parliament is at a bit of a loose end whilst the Government argue amongst themselves over Brexit, but that isn’t to say that there is much for Liberal Democrats to be stirred by… Government ferry plan hits the rocks UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal […]

It may be that Parliament is at a bit of a loose end whilst the Government argue amongst themselves over Brexit, but that isn’t to say that there is much for Liberal Democrats to be stirred by…

  • Government ferry plan hits the rocks
  • UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal Brexit
  • No specific funding for NHS in no deal scenario
  • Stone: Immigration rules for Commonwealth soldiers are outrageous
  • Cable: PM’s meaningful vote timeline irresponsible and insulting to parliament
  • UK must support Turkey’s stand on Uyghur crisis – Carmichael

Government ferry plan hits the rocks

Responding to news that the Government has scrapped its contract with Seaborne Freight Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Government did not need a siren’s call to get into chaos over a contract with a ferry company, all they needed was to put Chris Grayling in charge.

This Government has now had to fire their ferry company with no ferries, as we drift closer and closer to no deal.

The Conservatives have failed to plan for Brexit and are steering this country to disaster. They must take no deal off the table and then offer the country a people’s vote so we can get out of this mess once and for all.

UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal Brexit

The Liberal Democrats have pushed the Conservative Government to admit that Ministers have not secured any bilateral health agreements with EU member states in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In a response to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, Health Minister Stephen Hammond MP could not confirm any agreements have been made to ensure British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK would have the same access to medical cover.

Mr Hammond could only confirm that the UK and Irish Governments have “firm intentions to maintain the Common Travel Area and to protect the associated reciprocal rights”.

The revelation will add further woes to UK citizens intending to travel across the EU this summer after a a Liberal Democrat mystery shopper exercise recently uncovered several leading travel agents were unable to guarantee cover in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

In a no-deal scenario, it is now disturbingly likely that UK citizens will have no medical cover in most, if not all, of the EU countries.

With many people already having booked travel to the EU for after 29th March, we need urgent clarification from the Government of what action UK travellers need to take, including whether they should be taking out expensive travel insurance.

This is particularly worrying as most of the large travel insurance firms are not able to confirm whether their insurance will be valid in the case of no-deal.

Conservative Ministers do not need to hold British travellers at ransom. They can instead take no-deal off the table and give the public the final say with a People’s Vote so that we can get out of this mess once and for all.

No specific funding for NHS in no deal scenario

The Conservative Government has refused to reveal how much funding it is allocating to keep the National Health Service running in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Although the Department of Health and Social Care has been allocated £71 million by the Treasury to prepare for Brexit, in an answer to a written PQ it said it was “unable to provide a breakdown of the amount of funding allocated to ‘no deal’ preparations specifically”.

Of the 18 Government departments questioned on their no-deal spending in written PQs tabled by Vince Cable, just one – the Department for Transport – provided a specific figure.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Matt Hancock has been boasting about being the world’s biggest buyer of fridges, yet his department doesn’t even appear to know how much it is spending on preparing for a no-deal Brexit. The Government needs to come clear with taxpayers on which particular Brexit blackholes it is pouring their money down.

Shockingly, only one department is actually aware of what it is spending to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. This suggests the government is either trying to scare the public and MPs about the dangers of a no-deal it doesn’t expect to happen, or it is totally incompetent.

Stone: Immigration rules for Commonwealth soldiers are outrageous

Hundreds of troops who joined the British Army after a targeted Commonwealth recruitment drive in 2016 are having to work second jobs in order to meet the Home Office threshold necessary to relocate their families.

Commenting Jamie Stone, Lib Dem Defence Spokesperson said:

This is yet another example of the Tory’s botched immigration policies. These soldiers were asked specifically to come and defend our nation and the government repays them with a hostile environment. It has all the hallmarks of the policies which caused the Windrush crisis.

These people have responded to a call to serve the country and it is outrageous that immigration thresholds mean they must work second jobs just to bring their spouses and children with them.

The Liberal Democrats demand better, Commonwealth soldiers who have been asked to come and serve must be welcomed into UK society.

Cable: PM’s meaningful vote timeline irresponsible and insulting to parliament

Responding to the news that the PM will seek to wait until the end of the month for a second attempt at winning the meaningful vote, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

This is worse than irresponsible.

It is deeply insulting to the country and to Parliament. It goes against what she has been mandated to achieve. I would not be surprised if she faces a massive rebellion by Conservative MPs.

UK must support Turkey’s stand on Uyghur crisis – Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has today called on the Foreign Secretary to support Turkey’s stance on the Chinese Human Rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Mr Carmichael responded to comments made by the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy, that it is for the international community “to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang region.”

Commenting, Mr. Carmichael said:

Turkey is right to stand up to the barbaric practices China is using to oppress the Uyghur people of Xinjiang. The Foreign Secretary must support them, and use our position as permanent members of the Security Council and prominent defenders of human rights to support Turkey’s calls, and deliver meaningful action.

Many nations have been scared into refusing to engage with this crisis because of Chinese economic pressure, so it is quite brave of Turkey to stand up and do the right thing. The UK must not silently acquiesce to these rampant human rights abuses either.

LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: A People’s Vote is the only way for our country to move forward

Alistair Carmichael emerges from the shadows of his Chief Whip’s role to make the case for a People’s Vote in the Herald in his own inimitable style. First he sets the scene. Instead of trotting out platitudes (“Brexit means Brexit” – remember that one?) and promising the undeliverable to the insatiable on her own right […]

Alistair Carmichael emerges from the shadows of his Chief Whip’s role to make the case for a People’s Vote in the Herald in his own inimitable style. First he sets the scene.

Instead of trotting out platitudes (“Brexit means Brexit” – remember that one?) and promising the undeliverable to the insatiable on her own right wing and the DUP (we shall leave the Customs Union AND have no hard border between the North and the South AND we shall have no border in the Irish Sea) she could have built a consensus in the House of Commons.

There are two obstacles to sorting this out – one is May’s intransigence. The other is Jeremy Corbyn:

Challenged in yesterday’s confidence debate the self-styled Leader of The Opposition was unable to say whether, in the event of winning his general election he would press ahead with Brexit or not. That apparently would be up to his party.

When I asked him then if he would follow the policy endorsed by his party members at their conference in September and back a people’s vote after the confidence motion had failed his answer was also less than unequivocal.

As they might have said aboard the Starship Enterprise, “It’s leadership, Jim, but not as we know it”.

The Lib Dems first came up with the idea of a People’s Vote two years ago and it didn’t exactly catch on:

It was not a popular idea at the time. A population weary from frequent and difficult visits to the polls did not much fancy the prospect of another one. I understand the sentiment, but it was then, and is still now, the only way ahead.

By bringing his MPs in behind the campaign for a People’s Vote Jeremy Corbyn could make it happen. Instead he continues to vacillate. It is a vacillation for which he may pay a heavy political price. Those who lent him their votes in 2017, believing him to be an opponent of Brexit are now increasingly seeing him as the Brexit-loving charlatan than many in Westminster (especially in his own party) have long since known him to be.

Let me be clear. I believe that a People’s Vote is the only way for our country now to go forward. In itself it is not an answer to all the problems that caused Brexit and which come with it. Would it heal the divide within our country? No but it would at least allow the healing to start.

You can read the whole article here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

Confidence trick

There were many times during this afternoon’s Vote of No Confidence debate when I wanted to throw something at the television. I didn’t, because the only things close by were expensive and belonged to my employer. This country is facing the biggest crisis since World War 2 and the Government and Opposition spend the afternoon […]

There were many times during this afternoon’s Vote of No Confidence debate when I wanted to throw something at the television. I didn’t, because the only things close by were expensive and belonged to my employer.

This country is facing the biggest crisis since World War 2 and the Government and Opposition spend the afternoon slinging insults at each other, pantomime style. When we face a no-deal fall off a cliff which will kill people. Fiddling and burning or what?

It was hardly the stuff of Gladstone, of Lloyd George, of Churchill as Jeremy Corbyn finally moved his motion of no confidence. The Government happily gave it five hours of debate. It was only obliged to give an hour and a half, but wasting time is all it’s got at the moment. The Conservative benches also got to be the most united they have been since last July.

I know that Vince signed Corbyn’s motion of no confidence. He kind of had to. I mean, if you’re asked if you have confidence in the government that brought you Windrush, the hostile environment, the rape clause, the benefit freeze, the disastrous implementation of Universal Credit and that’s before you even get to the Brexit clusterbourach, then the only possible answer is “no flipping way.”

However, I’d have amended it to say I have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition either. I can’t actually remember a time when the Government and the Opposition have been so simultaneously useless.

Apparently, Corbyn is going to keep laying down motions of no confidence as a distraction from having to take a position on the People’s Vote and May thinks she can get away with putting tweaked versions of her deal to the Commons. Does anyone get the irony here? They are happy to keep asking the same questions while stubbornly denying the people the chance to mark the Government’s homework.

Alistair Carmichael confronted Corbyn beautifully on the issue during his speech:

What should we do if Corbyn keeps putting down vexatious motions of no confidence? Well, to be honest, we have to vote for them. If we don’t, that’ll be the one time Corbyn will have got the DUP on side. After that disaster in the Summer we simply daren’t give Labour the chance to say that we backed the Tories.

We probably don’t need to take part in the debate and go for a distracting People’s Vote related stunt every time he tries it.

If people are looking at a party with a track record of consistency and of generally being right on the issues of the day – the economy (Vince predicting the credit crunch), Iraq, Brexit, then we are it and we need to get out there in the coming weeks and do everything we can to argue our case.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

31 December 2018 – 6 January 2019 – the week’s press releases

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed… Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’ Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit All Gove is offering […]

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed…

  • Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal
  • Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’
  • Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit
  • All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty
  • Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering
  • Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland
  • Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal

Liberal Democrats today condemned reports that the Government is charging victims of illegal forced marriages to bring them home.

The Times has today reported that women who are sent abroad by their families for forced marriages are charged by the Foreign Office for the cost of rescuing them.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Government cannot surely think it’s acceptable to ask victims of illegal forced marriages to pay to be rescued.

These young women who have been through traumatic circumstances are being asked to repay their repatriation costs and then punished if they can’t by having their passports confiscated until they pay the Government back.

The Conservative Government needs to explain exactly why they think this is acceptable.

Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’

Responding to the Home Secretary’s comments regarding asylum seekers, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Home Secretary’s comments about refugees crossing the Channel show that the Tories’ nasty, hostile environment is alive and well.

Many of these people have fled war in Syria or persecution in Iran. For the Home Secretary to suggest – on the basis of no evidence whatsoever – that they are not ‘genuine’ asylum seekers is completely unacceptable. For the Government to summarily deny their claims would be unlawful and inhumane.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand an effective and compassionate response: investing in a stronger Border Force to stop the smugglers and traffickers, while ensuring safe, legal routes to sanctuary for those forced out of their homes.

Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has today accused Jeremy Corbyn of cosying up to the Conservative Government after the Labour Leader said May should return to Brussels to find a deal Labour could support.

Following the remarks Tom Brake said:

Whilst many Labour supporters join Liberal Democrats marching and campaigning for a people’s vote, Jeremy Corbyn sidles up to the Conservatives and works with them to deliver Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn can claim Labour’s policy on Brexit is ‘sequential’, but unless the Labour Party actually start opposing the Tory Government a better word for their policy is nonsensical.

Corbyn offers no alternative. The Liberal Democrats have led the campaign for a final say on the deal, but it is time for Corbyn and the Labour frontbench to stop playing games and back a people’s vote.

All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty

Responding to Michael Gove’s speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

Mr Gove is still not listening to any experts while it is clear he has forgotten the assurances he and his cronies gave the farming community during the referendum. Farmers have certainly not forgotten.

To plan for their business properly, famers need to know how much money they’ll get, what standards they need to meet and what tariffs they need to pay. All Gove and co are offering is yet further uncertainty.

This is a national embarrassment, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. The people must have the final say on Brexit, with the option to restore certainty and security for farmers by remaining in the EU.

Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering

Responding to the launch of a publicity drive to prepare the public for the possibility of a “no-deal” by the Government, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The no deal publicity campaign is simply further scaremongering by Theresa May. The PM and her cabinet are attempting to frighten MPs, businesses and the public into supporting her deal.

This publicity campaign is not only a waste of the public’s money, but the PM is clearly trying to run down the clock so her deal is the only option left. This, on top of the millions spent on a ferry contract with no ferries, further demonstrates the Government’s disregard for the earnings of hardworking families across the country.

It is time the Tories stopped playing political games with our future and removed no deal from the table. The only real way out of this deadlock is to hold a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland

Responding to the reports that nearly 1,000 police officers are to begin training for deployment in Northern Ireland in case of disorder from a no-deal Brexit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Brexiters’ claims that the security of Northern Ireland is not at risk as a result of Brexit have been further dismantled by these reports. In the interest of public safety the Government must take no deal off the table.

The Conservative Government’s policy has been driven by the DUP who do not represent the majority in Northern Ireland who voted to remain.

The people of Northern Ireland demand much better than this. The Prime Minister must act responsibly, end this brinkmanship, and give the people the chance to get out of this mess once and for all with a people’s vote.

Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Responding to reports that both Heathrow and Gatwick airport have spent millions of pounds in anti-drone technology, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

It appears that, rather belatedly, airports are now investing in the technology needed so that in the future they can manage any misuse of drones much more effectively. The Conservative Government must follow suit immediately to ensure that both police and armed forces are also better prepared to deal with any future disruption caused.

The chaos over Christmas could have been avoided. Chris Grayling must stop sitting on his hands and reverse his decision to abandon legislation which would regulate the drone market.

This whole fiasco has not only demonstrated how much of a distraction Brexit is becoming in stalling vital legislation in Parliament, but that the extent of this Government’s ineptitude knows no bounds.

14 November 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a long day today, with the last press release issued after 10 p.m…. Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages Number Ten bows to pressure on FOBT stakes Failures on women’s health becoming the norm DUP “punishment beating” comments unacceptable and dangerous ‘No Brexit’ still a very real possibility Country still […]

It’s been a long day today, with the last press release issued after 10 p.m….

  • Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages
  • Number Ten bows to pressure on FOBT stakes
  • Failures on women’s health becoming the norm
  • DUP “punishment beating” comments unacceptable and dangerous
  • ‘No Brexit’ still a very real possibility
  • Country still none the wiser on PM’s blindfold Brexit
  • Brexit will rob UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools

Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has warned the Tories are being “unacceptably risky” as a House of Commons committee finds that failures in preparing for Brexit mean food shortages are a real possibility.

The Public Accounts Committee has today [14th November] published its report into the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ preparations for Brexit.

The committee concluded that:

  • The Department is too complacent about potential disruption or interruption to trade
  • Fundamental issues for food, chemical and animal importers and exporters remain
  • Inadequate engagement with businesses means small businesses in particular are ill-prepared

The Public Accounts Committee is now calling on the Conservative Government to be clear about the impact of not being able to make the necessary legal changes in time.

Liberal Democrat MP and Public Accounts Committee member, Layla Moran said:

Following extensive evidence, there can be no confidence that food imports, food standards and food safety can be guaranteed if Brexit happens.

Muddling through in the hope of goodwill is unacceptably risky. We cannot have unsafe food, or worse no food at all, on the shelves after Brexit. This is not a price worth paying.

Liberal Democrats demand better. This mess can be avoided by giving the people a final say on Brexit, including the option to remain in the EU.

Number Ten bows to pressure on FOBT stakes

Responding to the news that the minimum stake for Fixed-Odds-Betting-Terminals will be reduced to £2 in April of next year, Liberal Democrat Culture spokesperson in the Commons, Christine Jardine said:

Tracey Crouch’s resignation sent shock waves through Number Ten and I am glad that the stake change will take effect from April.

There was no justifiable reason for the delay and it just showed how in the pocket of the gambling industry the Tories have been.

This is a victory for those like the Liberal Democrats who have been campaigning for this crackdown for a decade, and putting the interests of vulnerable people ahead of profits.

Failures on women’s health becoming the norm

Responding to the reports that more than 40,000 women in England have not received information regarding cervical cancer screening after a failure to send out letters by the NHS, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said:

It is outrageous that women’s health has again been compromised with the failure to send out cervical cancer screening letters.

Only six months ago, the former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stood up in the Commons to apologise to women for failures to send invitations for breast cancer screening.

It is unacceptable that these failures seem to be becoming the norm. The Liberal Democrats demand better for women’s health, much better.

DUP “punishment beating” comments unacceptable and dangerous

Responding to comments from the DUP’s Brexit Spokesperson, Sammy Wilson, in which he compared the EU’s Brexit deal to a “punishment beating for the UK because they dared to vote to leave the EU”, Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Over the past few months there has been cross party agreement that the use of violent imagery and language has no place in our politics.

Sammy Wilson’s analogy is completely unacceptable and potentially dangerous. Many will read his words as being a clear reference to paramilitary violence and intimidation used during the Troubles in Northern Ireland by terrorist groups.

Politicians set the tone. In this time of division and rancour we must debate with respect and care.

‘No Brexit’ still a very real possibility

Responding to this evenings statement by the Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The crucial change is that the Prime Minister and the Government have admitted for the first time that the choice for the country is not just between this bad deal or ‘no deal’. Instead, ‘No Brexit’ is a very real possibility.

It is time to return this issue to the country, and give people the option to Remain.

Country still none the wiser on PM’s blindfold Brexit

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement on the draft Brexit deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

After five hours in a safe room, the PM and the Cabinet emerged to provide little detail on the divorce and nothing on our future relationship. She leaves the country none the wiser.

But at least she has accepted Parliament and the people have another choice: the option the Liberal Democrats have been pushing for two years, a People’s Vote.

The PM claims she owes it to the country to take decisions in the national interest. This deal, which leaves the UK a rule taker not a rule maker, is bad for Britain, bad for the NHS and bad for British jobs. It is a deal nobody voted for and nobody wants.

Brexit will rob UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has warned that Theresa May’s Brexit deal “will rob the UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools that help to keep us safe”.

Article 8 of the withdrawal agreement, published by the Government this evening, states that the UK “shall cease to be entitled to access any network, any information system and any database established on the basis of Union law”.

Article 63 states that we will only be able to access the Schengen Information System for a maximum of 3 months after the end of the transition period, and Europol’s SIENA platform for a maximum of 1 year.

Meanwhile, Article 62 makes clear that the European Arrest Warrant will only apply to people arrested before the end of the transition period.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Theresa May’s deal finally spells out in black and white what the Liberal Democrats have been warning about for the last two years: Brexit will rob the UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools that help to keep us safe.

After the transition period, we’ll lose the European Arrest Warrant and access to vital data-sharing systems, making it harder for the police to put serious criminals behind bars and keep us all safe.

The Government says it hopes to strike a ‘comprehensive’ deal on security co-operation, but euphemistically admits negotiations have been ‘particularly challenging’. Essentially, Theresa May is asking us to trust her to sort all this out within the next two years, while admitting that she’s failed to make any progress over the last two years.

Britain’s not buying it, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we are fighting to give the British people a say on Theresa May’s deal, including the option of an Exit from Brexit.

7 November 2018 – (the rest of) today’s press releases

Tonight’s press releases are brought to you from Madrid, where hundreds of liberals from across Europe are gathering for the ALDE Party Congress. This feature might be rather more erratically timed than usual until Sunday… Brexit legal advice must be published Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has called on the Government to end their […]

Tonight’s press releases are brought to you from Madrid, where hundreds of liberals from across Europe are gathering for the ALDE Party Congress. This feature might be rather more erratically timed than usual until Sunday…

Brexit legal advice must be published

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has called on the Government to end their “murky games” and publish all legal advice on Brexit plans for the Irish border.

Mr Brake said:

Refusing to publish legal advice on Brexit makes a mockery of the discredited mantra ‘Take Back Control’. Choosing to withhold this information from the public raises serious questions about what Tory ministers are trying to hide.

Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must stop these murky games and publish their legal advice in full. The people deserve access to this information, and the opportunity to reject the Brexit mess with a ‘People’s Vote’.

Tory gagging clauses damage democracy

Responding to reports that the Government has used gagging clauses on 40 charities and more than 300 companies, including experts hired by the Government to test cladding 12 days after the Grenfell Tower fire, Liberal Democrat Housing spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Grenfell was a tragedy that should never have happened. Rather than gagging experts and prioritising reputational damage, this Conservative Government should be doing everything in its power to ensure that it never happens again.

It beggars belief that Theresa May and her ministers have squandered £25 billion on gagging clauses. Taxpayers money should never be used to deter people from speaking out.

Transparency and freedom of speech are vital for a healthy democracy, something this Conservative Government have no regard for.

Scottish Parliament votes in favour of a ‘People’s Vote’

The Scottish Parliament has today voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat amendment committing the Parliament to “providing unequivocal support for a public vote on the final terms of the Brexit deal”.

Former Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Tavish Scott, the MSP who moved the successful amendment, warned the vote exposed “the weakness” of Labour’s opposition to Brexit.

Following the vote, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

The Scottish Parliament giving its unequivocal support to a People’s Vote is an important step in the UK-wide campaign for a vote on the deal.

The Liberal Democrats have been leading the way on this campaign since 2016. More and more people are beginning to agree with us that we need a people’s vote on the final deal.

The Labour leadership must now follow their London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other leading Labour figures in giving people the final deal, including the option of an exit from Brexit.