“Playing chicken with the country” – and the possibility of revoking Article 50

Lib Dem MPs have been out and about in the media this week. Christine Jardine took Labour to task for their abject failure to oppose the Government properly. Layla took to Twitter to give a Valentine’s Day message – and she mentioned the possibility of revoking article 50 if we get to March 29th and […]

Lib Dem MPs have been out and about in the media this week.

Christine Jardine took Labour to task for their abject failure to oppose the Government properly.

Layla took to Twitter to give a Valentine’s Day message – and she mentioned the possibility of revoking article 50 if we get to March 29th and there is still no deal. Like Christine before her she talked about May’s game of chicken with the country. Definitely a theme here. .

On Bloomberg, Jo Swinson took a coach and horses through Theresa May’s Brexit policy from the beginning, saying that public opinion had changed and the best way forward was a People’s Vote.

 

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

14 February 2019 – today’s press releases

No deal Brexit causing panic for people with diabetes (see here) Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say Cable: Govt defeat shows rejection of May’s time wasting Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say The Liberal Democrats have today tabled an amendment calling for a People’s Vote […]

  • No deal Brexit causing panic for people with diabetes (see here)
  • Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say
  • Cable: Govt defeat shows rejection of May’s time wasting

Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say

The Liberal Democrats have today tabled an amendment calling for a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.

The Liberal Democrats have ensured that there is a People’s Vote amendment for MPs to get behind on every single Brexit vote in the House of Commons.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

In an attempt to force through this unpopular deal, the Conservative Government have this week kicked the can another few weeks down the road and closer to the precipice.

That is why Liberal Democrats have tabled this amendment. Our party have campaigned for the people to have the final say on Brexit for over two years. We have ensured that there is always an amendment for MPs, from any party, to sign if they agree with us.

We cannot let the PM or Leader of the Opposition conspire to run down the clock. It is time for those who know the best thing for our country is a People’s Vote to stand with us.

Cable: Govt defeat shows rejection of May’s time wasting

Responding to the defeat of the Government’s motion this evening by 45 votes, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The vote this evening demonstrates a complete failure of Theresa May’s Tory Government and Parliament’s rejection of more reckless time wasting as they drag us closer and closer to the cliff edge.

Theresa May’s brinkmanship may seem to her as a clever tactic in trying to force MPs to support her deal, but tonight Parliament rejected this ploy. The reality is the Prime Minister’s political games in refusing to take no deal off the table is having a serious effect on people’s day-to-day lives.

The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for a people’s vote for over two years. Tonight’s defeat of the Government makes clear it is long overdue that the Prime Minister took no deal off the table, and offered the public a final say on Brexit with the option to remain in the EU.

12 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Digital exclusion shows Universal Credit not fit for purpose Responding to reports that almost half a million people needed help to apply for the government’s flagship Universal Credit benefit online, DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine said: The Liberal Democrats raised the issue of digital exclusion with Conservative ministers months ago, but these concerns clearly haven’t been […]

Digital exclusion shows Universal Credit not fit for purpose

Responding to reports that almost half a million people needed help to apply for the government’s flagship Universal Credit benefit online, DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Liberal Democrats raised the issue of digital exclusion with Conservative ministers months ago, but these concerns clearly haven’t been taken on board. This underlines the need to look again at Universal Credit, which is clearly not creating the simpler and more accessible benefits system that was intended.

It is failing the very people it was supposed to be designed to help. Now the Government has acknowledged that Universal Credit has created a greater need for food banks, it is time they accepted it needs more than just the tinkering we have seen.

Universal Credit just isn’t fit for purpose, and it’s time the Government accepted responsibility.

Conservatives pass one of worst pieces of legislation ever witnessed

Speaking after the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill was passed in the House of Commons tonight by just 58 votes, former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb MP said:

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people are at risk of unlawfully having their freedom restricted and receiving inappropriate care. That is the deeply flawed system this Bill should have fixed, but instead the Conservatives produced one of the worst pieces of legislation ever seen.

I set the Government two tests at the beginning of this process. Does the new system safeguard individuals’ human rights and does the new system result in very vulnerable people being better protected? Conservative Ministers have failed both of these tests.

It is incredibly worrying that the Conservative Government are still pursuing this change in legislation when there has been overwhelming and united opposition from parties and care organisations. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats will keep fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable.

Motorists to be driven round the bend by Brexit bureaucracy

The House of Lords has this evening formally approved a Brexit regulation allowing the Government to issue new international driving permits, which could be required to travel to several EU countries in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Responding, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

International Driving Permits are a relic of the 1960s with different countries requiring different formats, not forgetting, the only way to get one is through queuing up at the post office.

EU countries may require drivers to buy these permits if the UK crashes out without a deal, causing delays and hassle to all those who drive across the continent for holidays, not to mention severely hampering British business.

This is just another example to add to the list of transport and border issues that have been brought about by Brexit.

Previously, UK drivers could enjoy travelling across Europe by road pretty seamlessly, but now will risk prosecution if they do not adequately prepare. The only way out of this mess is for the Prime Minister to take no deal off the table and to give the public a final say, with the option to remain in the EU.

11 February 2019 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And here’s the rest… Lib Dems: Defence Secretary showboating with ‘hard power’ rhetoric Lib Dems: Tory Govt prepared to sacrifice people to the electric chair Govt Universal Credit admission is too late for tens of thousands Lib Dems: Govt must ensure dinosaur MPs can’t obstruct legislation Lib Dems: Defence Secretary showboating with ‘hard power’ rhetoric […]

And here’s the rest…

  • Lib Dems: Defence Secretary showboating with ‘hard power’ rhetoric
  • Lib Dems: Tory Govt prepared to sacrifice people to the electric chair
  • Govt Universal Credit admission is too late for tens of thousands
  • Lib Dems: Govt must ensure dinosaur MPs can’t obstruct legislation

Lib Dems: Defence Secretary showboating with ‘hard power’ rhetoric

In his speech “Transforming UK Defence to Meet the Global Threats of Tomorrow”, Gavin Williamson today confirmed that aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is to be deployed to the Pacific region.

Commenting on this move Liberal Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone said:

Gavin Williamson is heating up UK defence rhetoric, something which may well be seen as provocation by Beijing. This comes following years of hollowing-out of Britain’s military capabilities, with the British Army now at the smallest it has been in decades.

Do we really have the capacity at the moment to send this ship over to showboat? Rather than flaunting the HMS Queen Elizabeth in the pacific, the Conservatives should instead be focusing on the pressing issues facing the British armed forces at the moment, including the £15bn shortfall in the MoD’s equipment plan over the next decade.

Lib Dems: Tory Govt prepared to sacrifice people to the electric chair

A Liberal Democrat amendment which would have prohibited UK authorities sharing data with overseas agencies where the death penalty could be imposed was rejected by the Conservatives today.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson in the Lords Brian Paddick accused the Conservative Government of being “prepared to sacrifice people to the electric chair in America if that is what it takes to secure the kind of agreement this Bill covers.”

The amendment to the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill was defeated in the House of Lords by just 19 votes.

Speaking after the vote, Lord Paddick added:

The UK has long been committed to eradicating the death penalty wherever it exists in the world. An important part of that commitment is that we only help other countries to prosecute criminals if we have assurances that the death penalty will not be used.

It is disappointing to see less than half of Labour peers join us in opposing the Government on an issue which could see people being executed as a result of the UK sharing data. The Liberal Democrats are clear that we will continue to fight to keep the UK’s commitment to fundamental human rights.

Govt Universal Credit admission is too late for tens of thousands

Responding to comments from Amber Rudd about the link between the rise of food bank usage and the roll out of Universal Credit, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This belated admission of responsibility comes far too late for the tens of thousands of people forced to rely on food banks because of the Conservatives’ stubborn refusal to fix Universal Credit.

In 21st century Britain no one should be dependent on charitable handouts for their survival, yet that is precisely the situation that Government policy has created.

While some tinkering around the edges has happened, the Conservative Government must go all the way and give UC claimants full flexibility over when and how they are paid, while completely reversing the swingeing cuts made to the programme in 2015.

Lib Dems: Govt must ensure dinosaur MPs can’t obstruct legislation

The Liberal Democrats have today secured assurances that a Bill on female genital mutilation (FGM) will be introduced in Government time, but have called for the way in which Private Members Bills’ are debated to be reassessed.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse secured the assurance during her Urgent Question today. The Bath MP pressed the issue after a Private Member’s Bill on FGM was dismissed on Friday after Conservative MP Christopher Chope objected.

Following the Urgent Question, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said:

It is severely disappointing that I have had to ask the Minister to bring this issue back to the Chamber today. The Conservatives should be ashamed to have Members on their benches with such outdated views about women and who fail to recognise the urgent need to protect vulnerable girls.

We need far greater protection for children who are at risk of female genital mutilation, with clear evidence that it is on the rise. We cannot be in a situation where action is only ever taken after the crime has been committed, and after these girls have undergone unsafe, life-changing, and potentially life-threatening surgery.

It is a relief to to see that the Government have taken it upon themselves to introduce this legislation, after one of their own backbenches blocked it. It is time to reassess the way in which Private Members Bills’ are debated to ensure that one aged dinosaur MP cannot obstruct the progress of vital legislation out of spite in future.

Vince reshuffles Lib Dem spokespeople

Vince  has announced several changes to his top team of spokespeople. Tim Farron will be taking over the Communities and Local Government  brief, which really suits him with his longstanding interest in housing. Wera Hobhouse moves from there to cover Energy and Climate Change. Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine will now cover issues relating to Work and […]

Vince  has announced several changes to his top team of spokespeople.

Tim Farron will be taking over the Communities and Local Government  brief, which really suits him with his longstanding interest in housing. Wera Hobhouse moves from there to cover Energy and Climate Change.

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine will now cover issues relating to Work and Pensions, taking on the portfolio vacated by Stephen Lloyd when he resigned the Whip in December.  Jamie Stone becomes Scottish spokesperson. Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael will speak on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Vince said of his new team:

I am pleased to announce today our new spokespeople who will speak out on the most important issues we face in Britain today.

While Parliament is consumed by Brexit, we need to remember that people are also affected by a whole host of other challenges.

We will continue to speak up for them as we continue our fight for the public to have a say on the Brexit deal with a People’s Vote.

It’s disconcerting that Lynne Featherstone no longer seems to have a spokesperson role given that she is one of the party’s best performers. She used to do energy and climate change in the Lords but that role has now gone to Chris Fox.

We also see Dee Doocey, who is Vince’s new Chief of Staff,  as Spokesperson without Portfolio. She’s actually been doing the role for a while, along with the tourism brief, but she’ll have more scope to use it now that she’s heading up his office.

Archy Kirkwood takes on DWP matters in the Lords, working with Christine Jardine who will be doing the role in the Commons.

As far as diversity is concerned, there’s a majority of women – 21/39. There’s only I think 2 from BAME backgrounds, though, and 1 that I can see with a disability and 1 LGBT.

You can see the whole list here.

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

29 January 2019 – today’s press releases

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”. I’m afraid that we’re now well […]

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”.

I’m afraid that we’re now well into the Lewis Carroll phase of Brexit, but on the plus side, my beloved Luton Town went five points clear at the top of League One…

  • Lib Dems: Safe standing an important opportunity for football fans
  • Travel insurance not guaranteed with no-deal Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Govt continue to scaremonger with redeployment of defence staff
  • Moran: Time to scrap cruel Vagrancy Act
  • Davey: Tory cuts have made it easy for ‘county lines’ drug traffickers
  • Lib Dems: The only compromise that the PM should consider is a people’s vote
  • Cable: Contradictory amendments show only way forward is a people’s vote
  • Labour MPs who sided with the Tories have become handmaids to Brexit

Lib Dems: Safe standing an important opportunity for football fans

Responding to the announcement that Wolves are to become the first Premier League club to introduce safe standing, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Liberal Democrats have long called for safe standing at football matches and we welcome this first step.

This is an important move in providing both safe and affordable space for fans watching the game. It is great to see clubs recognise that this is an opportunity to create a better atmosphere and cut ticket prices.

Travel insurance not guaranteed with no-deal Brexit

Five out of seven leading travel agents are unable to provide insurance cover guarantees in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a mystery shopper exercise has uncovered.

Following the Conservative Government’s own advice, the Liberal Democrats contacted seven of the UK’s largest insurers to ask whether or not they would provide cover for travel plans disrupted by a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

However, with only weeks to go until the UK could leave the European Union with a possible no-deal Brexit, only two of the seven companies could confirm insurance would be paid out as normal in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Another two insurers stated that travellers would not be covered at all while another three were simply unsure as to whether coverage would continue or not.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Just when people are booking their holidays, the Conservatives’ shambolic handling of the Brexit process could turn their trips into a nightmare.

It is a nonsense that the Tory Government appeals to people to contact their insurance companies yet they themselves have been left largely ill-informed and unable to address any uncertainties.

It is time the Prime Minister saw sense and ruled out a chaotic ‘no deal’ scenario. Better still, Liberal Democrats want to give people an opportunity to exit from Brexit with a final say on the deal and the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems: Govt continue to scaremonger with redeployment of defence staff

Responding to reports that up to 1,000 defence staff could be redeployed to help the UK Government cope with a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Once again this Tory Government are scaremongering about a no-deal Brexit when the Prime Minister could easily take the option off the table.

Theresa May is attempting to run down the clock, tinker with unviable solutions to the Irish border and frighten MPs, businesses and the public into supporting her already defeated deal.

The Liberal Democrats are clear the best way out of this deadlock is by giving the people the final say, with the option to remain in the EU.

Moran: Time to scrap cruel Vagrancy Act

This evening Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran will use the Adjournment Debate to bring a Bill to parliament that would see the 1824 Vagrancy Act repealed.

The Vagrancy Act currently criminalises those that sleep or beg on the streets.

Commenting ahead of the debate, Layla Moran said:

I’m delighted that I have the opportunity to debate this Bill and bring it back to parliament today and to hopefully move a step further to eradicating this cruel practice of criminalising rough sleepers.

Moving people on, issuing fines and putting vulnerable people in prison cells should be a source of shame to our authorities and our government. It is time that this archaic act from the nineteenth century was repealed.

I want to see a society that cares for those that have fallen on hard times and treats them with compassion, not cruelty and condemnation. I hope that parliament joins me in supporting the end of this legislation.

Davey: Tory cuts have made it easy for ‘county lines’ drug traffickers

Responding to the National Crime Agency’s report on the spread of ‘county lines’ drug traffickers, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

When children as young as 12 are being exploited by drug gangs, the Conservative Government’s approach clearly needs to change. We need to stop both the supply and demand of illegal hard drugs.

Unnecessary Tory cuts to the police have made it easier for organised criminal networks to spread; cuts to the Border Force have made it easier for them to traffic illegal drugs and weapons into the UK; and cuts to youth services have made it easier for them to prey on young people.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats demand more community police officers to prevent gangs from operating, more Border Force officers to stop drugs and weapons entering the country, and more youth services to keep children out of the grip of criminal gangs.

But we must also treat the addiction that fuels demand for these drugs. Rather than simply being locked up, drug users should be diverted into evidence-based treatment programmes and given the support they need to get off drugs.

Lib Dems: The only compromise that the PM should consider is a people’s vote

Responding to the Prime Minister’s agreement to engage with Conservative backbench MPs regarding the ‘Malthouse Compromise’, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is beyond ludicrous that the Prime Minister is willing to consider staking the country’s future on technology that does not even exist. This is not even the most irresponsible part. The idea of entering into a transition deal when the Government cannot even agree where we will end up is nothing short of dangerous.

This so-called compromise is nothing other than kicking the can down the road in an attempt to paper over the cracks in the Conservative Party. If the Conservatives are convinced that the can of worms that the referendum opened within their party can somehow be solved by delaying decisions, they are deluded.

The only compromise that will get the UK out of this mess is to give the public a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Cable: Contradictory amendments show only way forward is a people’s vote

Responding to both Sir Graham Brady’s and Dame Caroline Spelman’s amendments being passed this evening, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The House of Commons has given contradictory instructions, both ruling out ‘no deal’ and setting the Government on a collision course with the EU, ramping up the chances of no deal.

Willing the ends but not the means for preventing no deal gets us nowhere.

Parliament remains effectively deadlocked. The only way forward is a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Labour MPs who sided with the Tories have become handmaids to Brexit

Responding to 14 Labour MPs voting with the Conservative Government against Yvette Cooper’s amendment this evening, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is clear from votes in the House of Commons that divisions in the Labour Party are as deep as they are with the Tories.

Labour MPs who sided with the Conservatives have become handmaids to a Tory Brexit. As a result, a no-deal Brexit is a step closer. People will be worried about what the future holds.

The best way out of this mess is to go back to the people and give them a final say on Brexit. That is what the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for with all our soul and heart.

WATCH: Lib Dem MPs challenge May on Brexit

Lib Dem MPs tackled the Prime Minister this afternoon as she made her Groundhog May “nothing has changed” statement. Christine Jardine, Jo Swinson, Vince Cable, Jamie Stone and Tom Brake challenged her on various aspects of her intransigence. Christine Jardine asked the Prime Minister to consider asking to extend the Article 50 period. The PM […]

Lib Dem MPs tackled the Prime Minister this afternoon as she made her Groundhog May “nothing has changed” statement. Christine Jardine, Jo Swinson, Vince Cable, Jamie Stone and Tom Brake challenged her on various aspects of her intransigence.

Christine Jardine asked the Prime Minister to consider asking to extend the Article 50 period.

The PM isn’t even willing to ask the EU the question – and we all know that if we don’t ask, we definitely don’t get.

Vince mentioned the troops put on standby over the Brexit period and asked how they would be carrying out their duties.

I, too, welcome the fee waiver and the Prime Minister’s willingness to engage in serious conversations, including about the merits and practicalities of a people’s vote. May I ask a specific question? At the end of last week, the Secretary of State for Defence put 3,500 troops on Brexit standby. Will she clarify what their rules of engagement would be in the event that they face angry and violent demonstrators, and would they be armed?

She wasn’t so clear in her response. Had she even thought about it?

Jo Swinson tackled her on the “massive game of chicken in the Tory Party” and expressed her incredulity at the prospect of the PM allowing a disastrous no deal Brexit:

I cannot believe in good conscience, knowing what the Prime Minister does about the devastating impact of no deal on our economy and on our security, that she is willing to let us leave the EU on that basis, yet she seems wedded to her red lines and still against a people’s vote, which would have majority support if she backed it. With 67 days to go, the country deserves better than a massive game of chicken in the Tory party. When will the Prime Minister recognise she needs to move?

Jamie asked what would replace the European Structural Funds which had benefitted the Highlands in recent years:

I am sure my views on this matter are well known to the House, so I choose my words with care. A week ago, I asked the Prime Minister what, in the event of the UK leaving the EU, Government fund would replace the European structural funds that have been such a benefit to the highlands for many years. In her answer, she said “the shared prosperity fund”. Will the Prime Minister give me an assurance today that the shared prosperity fund will find its way to the needy highlands and islands and not be—how shall I put it?—creamed off for cherished projects in the south of Scotland or near Edinburgh or Glasgow?

Tom Brake tackled her on why she wouldn’t go for a People’s Vote:

Why does the Prime Minister continue to claim that the only way to rule out no deal is either to vote for her deal or to revoke article 50? She know that that is not the case. A third way is to put her deal to the people in a people’s vote and let them choose between her deal and staying in the European Union. Why will she not admit that?

WATCH: Lib Dem MPs talk about today’s vote

Our people have been out and about today, talking about the run-up to the vote and its aftermath. No deal should no longer be an option. Go back to the people https://t.co/ANbKGNC8BH — Vince Cable (@vincecable) January 15, 2019 Layla on the beginning of the end of Brexit Tonight’s historic defeat shows that this is […]

Our people have been out and about today, talking about the run-up to the vote and its aftermath.

Layla on the beginning of the end of Brexit

Ed on having no confidence in Labour, but backing a People’s Vote

Earlier, Wera had made the case against Brexit in her speech in the Debate

You can soak up a wee bit of the atmosphere from this view of Christine Jardine’s:

Earlier, she had told Sky News why she was fighting for a People’s Vote:

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

Lib Dems vs Brexit: Christine Jardine We all deserve better than this deal

It was almost midnight when Christine Jardine finally got to her feet to make her speech. She talked about how her constituents are even firmer in their view that we should remain in the EU and, crucially, she highlighted how the deal fails Leave as well as Remain voters. She called on MPs to rise […]

It was almost midnight when Christine Jardine finally got to her feet to make her speech. She talked about how her constituents are even firmer in their view that we should remain in the EU and, crucially, she highlighted how the deal fails Leave as well as Remain voters. She called on MPs to rise to the enormity of the occasion and do what’s best for the country.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami). I rise to oppose the Government’s motion and to give largely the speech that I was due to make a month ago, when the vote was pulled. My stance has developed over the past two and a half years, during which my party has campaigned consistently in Parliament and in communities across the country for the people, not the politicians, to have the final say.

As we approach the denouement of this Brexit drama—or perhaps it is a tragedy—my thoughts drift back to 24 June 2016. What prompted the country to vote for Brexit? I agree with the hon. Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns). An entire generation faced the prospect that their children and grandchildren would not be as well off as they were, having been left behind and failed by globalisation. More than two years ​later, I do not believe that this Government have provided either any solutions to those issues or a coherent way ahead.

We have heard a lot this evening, mostly from Conservative Members, about delivering on Brexit. May I plead with them that actually we have something more important in this House to deliver, and that is the wellbeing of the country? When the electors go to the ballot box and send us here, it is not simply to follow an instruction; it is to have the courage to do what we believe is right for us, for them and for the entire country. That is where we are just now.

While I remain implacably opposed to any EU departure, I believe that on this decision—possibly the most important decision any of us will face politically—it was important to take the time to seek the advice and listen to the views of my constituents in Edinburgh West. My constituents voted remain, and their minds have not changed. If anything, they are firmer in their resolve that this chaotic, uncertain shambles of a Brexit is not what they wanted or deserved.

This deal, the best deal the Government could negotiate, will, even according to the Government, leave us less well off than staying in the European Union. Our constituents deserve better. All of those people who voted leave deserve better. They voted leave believing what they were told—that it would benefit the NHS—and now they discover that the NHS will lose vital staff. In Edinburgh, we have Scotland’s highest concentration of non-UK EU citizens: 39,000 people who are vital to staffing our universities and our tourist industry. Some 50% of those who work in hospitality in Edinburgh come from elsewhere in the European Union.

We have talked before about stockpiling medicines and food and about lorry jams. When I ask this Government for reassurances, I am worried not just about my health or the health of all my friends who are worried about the medicines they need, but about the health of the country. That is why, when the Prime Minister called on us earlier this evening not to block Brexit because that would be a “subversion of democracy” and not say to the people whom we were elected to serve that we were unwilling to do what they had instructed and would go against it, I say to the Prime Minister that that is not why they sent us here. They sent us here to have the courage and the wisdom to stand up for what we believe is best for the country—and that is not this deal.

11 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Time to take a deep breath, and work out who the Government is. Is it the centre-right modernists, led by Amber Rudd? Is it the opportunistic wannabes, led by Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt? Or, is Theresa May in office but not in power? Hard to tell from the outside. But there are still other […]

Time to take a deep breath, and work out who the Government is. Is it the centre-right modernists, led by Amber Rudd? Is it the opportunistic wannabes, led by Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt? Or, is Theresa May in office but not in power? Hard to tell from the outside.

But there are still other things ticking over, and there are issues way beyond Brexit, as today’s press releases show…

  • Causes of mental ill-health in schools must be tackled
  • Lib Dems: Penny has dropped with Hunt
  • Lib Dems: UC needs investment, not just reform
  • Lib Dems: Pigs more likely to fly than Brexit legislation to be completed by March 29th

Causes of mental ill-health in schools must be tackled

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has demanded the causes of mental ill-health in schools be tackled after a House of Commons committee inquiry found that children and young people “face unacceptably long waits” for mental health treatment.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (11th January) published its report into mental health services for children and young people.

The committee concludes that:

  • Most young people with a mental health condition do not get the treatment they need
  • Government should step up action to increase staff numbers and develop required skills
  • Cross-departmental planning must improve, with focus on prevention and early intervention

The committee is demanding new ways of supporting young people’s mental health through prevention and early intervention, particularly in schools.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, and member of the Public Accounts Committee, Layla Moran MP said:

Our report finds that, shamefully, children and young people with mental health conditions are undoubtedly being failed. Mental health staff do a fantastic job but services are under-funded, over stretched and don’t have enough staff to provide a decent service.

Earlier this week the Government published its long-term plan for the NHS, but it is clear that Ministers have not committed enough funding and cross-Departmental planning to really get on top of the mental health crisis.

Liberal Democrats demand better. I want some of the systematic causes of mental ill-health removed from our education system. That means an end to the toxic high-stakes testing culture, abolishing Ofsted, reforming league tables and focusing on decent community, council and youth services to support our young people.

Lib Dems: Penny has dropped with Hunt

Responding to Jeremy Hunt’s admission this morning that Parliament could block a no-deal Brexit while voting down the deal could mean the UK remaining in the EU, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It would seem the penny has finally dropped within the Government, at least with Jeremy Hunt. Be in no doubt, a chaotic no-deal Brexit is a choice and it is in the gift of the Government to prevent it.

In the interests of people’s livelihoods, the Prime Minister must end the uncertainty and rule out a no-deal now. If not, Liberal Democrats will take every step possible within Parliament to force her.

With concern palpable among Tory ranks that Brexit can be stopped, it is clear Liberal Democrats are closer than ever to securing a People’s Vote. It is time MPs, particularly the Labour leadership, explored their conscience and supported that growing campaign.

Lib Dems: UC needs investment, not just reform

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has warned the Conservatives must commit to “major investment” to remedy the problems with Universal Credit. Ms Jardine said:

The Conservative’s botched roll-out of Universal Credit continues to cause real pain and misery that must be stopped. Liberal Democrats demand better than the Conservatives’ cruel policy of balancing the books on the backs of the poor.

Instead of putting the most vulnerable in society through another 12 months of misery, Rudd should end the benefits freeze immediately and fully restore the billions the Tories’ cut from Universal Credit’s Work Allowance. That is the major investment we need. Failure to do so will see this crisis go on and on.

Meantime, Liberal Democrats know child benefit can make the difference between families with young children making ends meet or not. Rudd simply has not gone far enough. Nothing short of fully reversing the two-child cap on child benefit will be acceptable.

Lib Dems: Pigs more likely to fly than Brexit legislation to be completed by March 29th

Responding to comments from a Number 10 Spokesperson that Brexit legislation will be completed by 29th March 2019, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

It is laughable that Number 10 are even attempting to make people believe that the Brexit legislation will be complete by 29th March.

Due to the Conservative Government’s insistence on pushing everything into the long grass, Parliament still has huge amounts to get through, including much of the Immigration, Environment, and Health Brexit Bills. Let alone the Withdrawal Agreement.

There is more of a chance of pigs flying than there is of the Brexit legislation being completed by 29th March. The Tories have made a mess of Brexit and are wasting everybody’s time peddling this rhetoric. That is why the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.