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

12-13 January 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

There haven’t been that many days of such high drama in Parliament to compare to the next few. How badly will Theresa May lose in the Commons? Will it be enough to force a change of policy? Can the Conservative Party cling together? We’ll see soon enough but, in the meantime, here are the weekend’s […]

There haven’t been that many days of such high drama in Parliament to compare to the next few. How badly will Theresa May lose in the Commons? Will it be enough to force a change of policy? Can the Conservative Party cling together?

We’ll see soon enough but, in the meantime, here are the weekend’s press releases…

  • Grayling has lost the plot
  • Short-term sentences of 12 months or less must be scrapped now
  • Corbyn has failed the test of leadership
  • Cable: No-deal is a choice and the Govt can stop it

Grayling has lost the plot

Responding to claims from Chris Grayling that blocking Brexit could lead to a rise in neo-Nazi extremist groups, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Chris Grayling has lost the plot. This kind of scaremongering is not only dangerous, but it is embarrassing.

Politicians should be focused on healing the divisions in our country, not shamefully stoking the fire in order to secure support for Theresa May’s botched deal.

This Conservative Government has lost all moral authority. It is time to take back control of this Brexit process and give the people a final say on the deal, including the option to remain in the EU.

Short-term sentences of 12 months or less must be scrapped now

Responding to the Prisons Minister’s comments that jail sentences of six months or less should be scrapped, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperon Ed Davey said:

Short-term sentences perpetuate the crisis in our overcrowded prisons, cost millions and don’t work to prevent crime. Robust community-based sentences are far more successful in reducing reoffending and the chance of more people becoming victims of crime.

Indications from the Prison Minister that he agrees is testament to the campaigners who have long made this case. However, the Prison Minister does not go far enough. Liberal Democrats demand better.

Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, to cut re-offending and make our communities safer. That means urgent action now to scrap prison sentences of 12 months or less, not just six months or less.

Corbyn has failed the test of leadership

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Jeremy Corbyn is still trying to be all things to all people by refusing to declare unambiguously whether he will back a People’s Vote and stop this inevitable Brexit mess. It is cheap and won’t work.

48 hours from the biggest crisis the UK has faced since WW2, the country required leadership from the Leader of the Opposition. Corbyn has sat on the fence and failed that test.

Liberal Democrats are instead listening to people’s concerns and leading the fight to give them the option to remain in the EU with a People’s Vote.

Cable: No-deal is a choice and the Govt can stop it

The Prime Minister is expected to say in a speech tomorrow that voting down her deal will undermine democracy and be catastrophic for the country. Responding, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The increasingly desperate language from the Prime Minister more than suggests a great deal of panic. But she cannot be allowed to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. A chaotic no-deal Brexit is a choice and it is in the gift of the Government to prevent it.

The Prime Minister must end the scaremongering and the uncertainty of a no-deal. If not, Liberal Democrats will use every tool at our disposal to ensure Parliament does.

No matter the Brexit, any Brexit will be bad for jobs, the NHS and reduce our standing in the world. The best way to avoid that national embarassment is with a People’s Vote, including the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems vs Brexit – Ed Davey on what Paddy would have thought

Sir Ed Davey, in his speech against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, looked at it through Paddy’s eyes. He also spoke about his experience of European co-operation when he was Climate Change Secretary when Putin was overstepping the mark in the Ukraine. My friend, Lord Ashdown—Paddy—is being buried today in Somerset, so I hope that the […]

Sir Ed Davey, in his speech against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, looked at it through Paddy’s eyes.

He also spoke about his experience of European co-operation when he was Climate Change Secretary when Putin was overstepping the mark in the Ukraine.

My friend, Lord Ashdown—Paddy—is being buried today in Somerset, so I hope that the House will allow me to speak about this deal as I think Paddy would have done. The hon. Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) might not have known about the burial service, but my friend Paddy would have been able to apply his critical faculties to the deal and judge it on the basis of what was good for this country. That is what he would have done. I worked for him for nearly 30 years, beginning as his economics adviser, and when he talked about Europe, he talked about the way in which countries needed to co-operate and work together. Internationalism was in his liberalism. He talked about how, working with other countries, this country could regain sovereignty and regain control over global capitalism, and the multinationals that sought to undermine the interests of individual countries, people and corporations. His view was that we were stronger and had more control. That was his approach to the European Union.

However, things went much deeper than that. Paddy was a soldier and a diplomat, and he brought that experience and those beliefs to the European question. It was his commitment to peace and to patriotism—he loved his country—that made him such a strong pro-European. We see that in his books and his speeches when he talks about the dangers of rising nationalism and protectionism around the world. He worried about Trump, Bolsonaro and Brexit, and he thought that Britain being in the EU was one of the best ways of combatting those rises in nationalism and protectionism. In his work in Bosnia, he talked about how the EU’s institutions were bringing peace not just within that country, but within the Balkans. Indeed, if we look at what is happening, the EU is one of the magnets that is ending the hostility between those countries, and it can play a key role. It is an engine for peace, as it has been across Europe.

Of course, as man who was born in Northern Ireland, Paddy would look at the threat to the Good Friday agreement with serious concern. Nearly 3,600 of our countrymen and women died in the troubles, but few have died since the Good Friday peace agreement. People inside and outside this House should think carefully about anything that puts that at risk. Paddy certainly did, believing that the EU was a way of gluing people together and moving away from past hostilities.

I was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when Putin invaded Crimea and the Bolsheviks went into eastern Ukraine. There were crisis summits. The European Energy Council got together to work out how to deal with the matter, and one way of undermining Putin was to reduce Russia’s oil, coal and gas exports by ​ensuring that the EU became more secure by going green and by trading within itself, making it less dependent on Russia. That meant less money into Putin’s pockets and therefore fewer soldiers and rockets. That was how the UK could exercise soft power through the EU. Europe’s energy security strategy was written in my office in Whitehall, because we were able to use soft power to try to promote security and peace. That is what the EU is about, and that is why Paddy supported it.

If Paddy applied those same thoughts to this deal, he would say that it is hopeless. This deal would lock Britain into bad diplomacy—diplomacy based on transactions and deals, not relationships. In the modern world, a country should have deep relationships with its neighbouring states. When I was in the coalition Government, I talked about having joint Cabinet meetings in Berlin and in London with the German Government. That did not go down too well on the Tory Benches, but I was trying to ensure that relationships were built on understanding between Ministers, not on press releases. I am afraid that this deal locks us into transactions between now and whenever we find out what Brexit actually means, which will be when the political declaration is eventually negotiated. Beyond that, however, whenever we get to the end of those negotiations—the Secretary of State is dreaming if he thinks that that will happen at the end of the implementation period—we will still be in a much more transactional relationship with the EU, which will damage this country and its interests. Paddy would think that this deal is not in this great country’s interests.

I hope that the deal will go down next Tuesday—I will vote against it—but it is unclear what will replace it. There is a clear majority against no deal. Is there a majority for some other deal? I do not know. Perhaps Norway-plus will attract some people. I find it deeply unattractive, because we would have all the costs and rules of the EU, but no voice and no vote. That is why—I am happy to admit this—putting the decision back to the people is a good idea. I hope that they will change their minds. If the people vote on this deal based on what they have seen over the past two and a half years, they will have a lot more information than they had in 2016. Some say, “The people knew what they were voting for,” but I really do not think that that is the case. Over the past two and a half years, there has been the most immense opening of people’s minds to what actually happened. In addition, more than 1 million young people did not get a vote in 2016, and they would like a say in their future. I believe that the case for another vote is made.

8 January 2019 – today’s press releases

It seems that, no matter how late I publish this feature, the Press Team are still up and working. Last night, the final press release came out at 11.58 p.m., so is included in today’s batch… Drone reforms are vague and lack resources Social housing neglect due to lack of political will Dover delay is […]

It seems that, no matter how late I publish this feature, the Press Team are still up and working. Last night, the final press release came out at 11.58 p.m., so is included in today’s batch…

  • Drone reforms are vague and lack resources
  • Social housing neglect due to lack of political will
  • Dover delay is a national embarrassment
  • Cable: Bumbling Govt taking ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Govt defeat shows no deal not an option
  • Lib Dems: Drone sighting shows urgent need for regulation
  • Lib Dems defeat Govt on loan charges

Drone reforms are vague and lack resources

Responding to the Government annoucement that the police will be given new powers to tackle the illegal use of drones, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

Action has been long overdue. Had the Conservatives introduced reforms when previously advocated by the Liberal Democrats and others, the nightmare before Christmas could have been avoided.

The Government has a lot of ground to make up. These reforms are still too vague and simply won’t come fast enough. Liberal Democrats demand better, including additional resources and training to ensure the police and army are better prepared.

Social housing neglect due to lack of political will

Responding to calls from housing charity Shelter for more social housing, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing Wera Hobhouse said:

Conservative Ministers have neglected social housing for far too long. The housing crisis is leaving people unable to afford a home of their own or, even worse, without a roof over their head.

Councils building social homes for rent is not only the quickest and most cost-effective way to produce the maximum amount of homes, but it is so important due to the secure tenancy they offer vulnerable tenants.

The Liberal Democrats welcome Shelter’s call for funding and more social housing. The current lack of social housing results in housing benefit going into the hands of private landlords, rather than councils. What is stopping this from changing is simply the lack of political will.

The Government must put forward an ambitious plan for building new social housing. The housing crisis is a human crisis; Ministers must take responsibility and start making a serious effort fix it.

Dover delay is a national embarrassment

Commenting on official research commissioned for the Department for Transport which reveals lorries could face a six-day wait at Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

A six day queue for lorries at Dover port beggars belief. Just imagine the chaos that would ensue because of delays to food, medicine and other deliveries. The wait would certainly provide plenty of time to think about where it all went wrong!

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Conservative Government could take no-deal off the table today, end this national embarrassment and offer the public a people’s vote with the option to remain in the EU.

Cable: Bumbling Govt taking ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to Brexit

Three times as many lorries using Portsmouth International Port as a result of a no-deal Brexit would result in gridlock and potential closure to parts of the motorway, Leader of the Liberal Democrats was told today.

The warning from Mike Sellars, Manager of Portsmouth International Port, came during Vince Cable’s visit to the port alongside the Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Following the visit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

This shows the bumbling incompetence of the Government taking a ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to no deal Brexit preparations.

Motorway closures are unacceptable; throwing the Portsmouth port into chaos shows the disregard Conservative Ministers have for the people of a city who voted for Brexit.

Now the people of Portsmouth must pay for the Conservative Government’s incompetence.

Lib Dems: Govt defeat shows no deal not an option

Responding to the Government’s defeat on Amendment 7 to the Finance Bill, which limits their ability to raise tax if there is a no deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Conservative Government’s defeat this evening shows Parliament’s rejection of a no deal. This amendment goes some way to taking no deal off the table, but it is crucial it is removed as an option entirely.

Theresa May must stop gambling with our future. It is entirely within her power to take no deal off the table, however she is recklessly keeping it there as a scare tactic due to the lack of support for her deal.

The only real alternative to get us out of this mess is to legislate for a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems: Drone sighting shows urgent need for regulation

Responding to reports that departures at Heathrow Airport were temporarily stopped after a drone was spotted, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

The reports that there has been another drone sighting, but this time at Heathrow Airport, is rightly concerning. This predictable copy-cat incident looks like more travellers will be delayed due to the Government’s incompetence.

Yesterday, the Government finally conceded on introducing some legislation to regulate the drone market. However, what was proposed was scant in detail and there was little sense of urgency. How many flights have to be cancelled before the Conservative Government take the regulation of drones seriously?

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We have been raising the dangers that the wild west drone market has posed for years but to no avail. The Government must move swiftly to pass this drone legislation with sufficient resources behind it to avoid future disruption.

Lib Dems defeat Govt on loan charges

Tonight, an amendment on the Finance Bill put forward by Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey has been passed unopposed in the House of Commons.

This amendment will force the Government to undertake a review into their proposed loan charge and its retrospective nature.

Responding to the victory, Ed Davey said:

The Conservative Government’s concession this evening demonstrates how little support they had across the House on this issue. The loan charge is causing misery to thousands of struggling individuals across the country who were wrongly advised.

To backdate these charges was grossly unfair and represented a disregard for the rule of law. Tonight, MPs have rightly come together to condemn this injustice.

Hard working families across this country have been unfairly punished by these loan charges. I hope that these impact assessments will force the Government to rethink this cruel policy.

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.

21-30 December 2018 – press release catch-up

You’d been wondering where I’d gotten to, hadn’t you? Well, following some consideration of how this regular feature works, I’ve decided to change it a bit. From now on, I’ll publish on Monday to Thursday inclusive, and on Sunday evening. My thinking is that politics goes a bit quiet when Parliament isn’t sitting, and one […]

You’d been wondering where I’d gotten to, hadn’t you? Well, following some consideration of how this regular feature works, I’ve decided to change it a bit. From now on, I’ll publish on Monday to Thursday inclusive, and on Sunday evening. My thinking is that politics goes a bit quiet when Parliament isn’t sitting, and one can develop a false expectation as to the flow of press releases from that.

And now, a catch up of press releases you’ve probably missed…

  • Lib Dem call to scrap Vagrancy Act gets Labour backing
  • Cable: Corbyn offers no real alternative
  • Govt must take no deal off the table to protect the public
  • Cable: HMV collapse shows urgent need for business rates reform
  • Hiring ferry companies with no ferries latest Government Brexit farce

Lib Dem call to scrap Vagrancy Act gets Labour backing

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran’s campaign to scrap the 1824 Vagrancy Act has received Labour party support.

Responding to the announcement, Ms Moran said:

The 1824 Vagrancy Act is a heartless, Dickensian law that is shamefully still being used thousands of times a year by police forces – including to try and remove homeless people from the streets of Windsor ahead of the Royal Wedding earlier this year.

Despite support from charities like Crisis and St Mungos, sadly the Government have – so far – failed to back my campaign and accept my Vagrancy (Repeal) Bill to axe this legislation. I hope that this growing support from the Labour party will help to convince the Government to do the right thing.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have already repealed the law. England must follow and axe this cruel, outdated legislation which allows the Police to arrest those sleeping rough or begging even if they aren’t doing any harm.

Cable: Corbyn offers no real alternative

​Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has declared the Liberal Democrats offer “a real alternative” following Jeremy Corbyn’s confirmation to The Guardian that if he was Prime Minister Labour would still go ahead with Brexit.

Vince Cable said:

There you have it, Jeremy Corbyn refuses once again to take the blinkers off. He is ignoring the concerns of his own supporters and the economic damage experts warn Brexit will do to the UK economy.

On Brexit, you simply cannot put a cigarette paper between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Working with others, including many in the Labour party, the Liberal Democrats offer a real alternative.

People deserve to be heard, not ignored. That is why the Liberal Democrats are campaigning tooth and nail to give the people a final say on Brexit, including the option to remain in the EU.

Govt must take no deal off the table to protect the public

Responding to Cressida Dick’s concern that no deal Brexit would make protecting the public more difficult, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The primary responsibility of any government is to keep the public safe. Clearly the Conservative government will be unable to do this if we crash out of the EU.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Prime Minister to take no deal Brexit off the table and then give the final say on Brexit to the public with a people’s vote.

Cable: HMV collapse shows urgent need for business rates reform

Responding to the reports that HMV is on the brink of collapsing into administration, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Although there is nothing to stop the march of technological progress, the issues HMV and other high street stores are facing have been compounded by the out of date business rates system.

While separate action is needed to ensure online retailers pay their fair share of corporation tax, Liberal Democrat proposals to replace the business rates system would offer a lifeline to struggling high streets.

As we witness yet another company about to go into administration, the need for reform is clearly urgent.

Hiring ferry companies with no ferries latest Government Brexit farce

Responding to reports that a company the government have handed a contract to to provide ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit has no ships, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

That the government has reportedly signed a contract with a ferry company with no ferries pretty much sums up their farcical approach to the entire Brexit fiasco. The government could, and should, take the threat of a no-deal Brexit off the table. It is being used only to try and scaremonger people into backing their deal. It is now costing the country millions – it is inexcusable and people won’t be fooled.

People must be given the final say on the Brexit deal with a people’s vote where they have the right to choose to remain.

19 December 2018 – today’s press releases

As displacement activity, as opposed to actually doing something practical as the country careers towards a cliff-edge Brexit, arguing about whether or not Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May “stupid woman”, or said “stupid Tories” or “stupid people” seems to hit the spot. * deep sigh * It’s so much more courteous down the corridor in […]

As displacement activity, as opposed to actually doing something practical as the country careers towards a cliff-edge Brexit, arguing about whether or not Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May “stupid woman”, or said “stupid Tories” or “stupid people” seems to hit the spot.

* deep sigh *

It’s so much more courteous down the corridor in the House of Lords…

And the Press Team are still hard at work…

  • Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control
  • Corbyn must apologise for PMQs remarks
  • Cable: EU planning reinforces PM must rule out no-deal

Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control

Responding to the Government’s immigration white paper, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

These Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control. Does anyone really believe that the Home Office can cope with a massive new temporary worker scheme? It already can’t cope with managing non-EU migration.

Every year, tens of thousands of employers would for the first time have to apply for visas – with all the costs, bureaucracy and delay the Home Office specialises in.

Britain’s immigration system isn’t broken because of the EU, it’s broken because Home Secretaries like Theresa May pandered to populism and failed to do their day job.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We recognise the huge benefits of immigration and would fix the system so it works for everyone, not least by scrapping the Conservatives’ shameful hostile environment.

Corbyn must apologise for PMQs remarks

Responding to reports that in Prime Minister’s Questions the Leader of the Labour Party called the Prime Minister a “stupid woman”, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said:

If the allegations are true, it is frankly disgraceful behaviour by Jeremy Corbyn. This is unacceptable from anyone, let alone the leader of a political party.

Parliament must be held to the highest standards. Sexism in any work place is not acceptable and it is time Jeremy Corbyn left the 1980s behind.

Young women from up and down the country will have watched this exchange today and it is no surprise so many of them are put off participating in politics. If the allegations are true, Jeremy Corbyn must apologise.

Cable: EU planning reinforces PM must rule out no-deal

Responding to the European Commission’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The European Commission should not be playing the same game of chicken as the UK Government.

We cannot allow British citizens in Europe to lose their right to live and work in the EU. Nor can we allow the damage that a no-deal Brexit would inflict on the UK economy and the EU alike.

It doesn’t need to be this way. I disagree greatly with the Prime Minister on a range of issues, but surely she would not allow the country to fall off the cliff with a no-deal Brexit? It is in the power of the Government to stop it happening.

The people deserve the option to say no to this mess and no to Theresa May’s discredited deal. That is why the Liberal Democrats are fighting for a People’s Vote, including the option to remain in the EU.

18 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Brexit is coming, the hedge fund’s growing fat, who will put a billion in Phil Hammond’s hat? If you haven’t got a billion, 3,000 troops will do, if you haven’t got 3,000 troops, then God bless you… But at least we’re giving some opposition to this wastrel administration… Lib Dem peers defeat Government to force […]

Brexit is coming, the hedge fund’s growing fat, who will put a billion in Phil Hammond’s hat? If you haven’t got a billion, 3,000 troops will do, if you haven’t got 3,000 troops, then God bless you…

But at least we’re giving some opposition to this wastrel administration…

  • Lib Dem peers defeat Government to force Prevent review (this one arrived late last night)
  • Cable: Decision to ramp up no-deal is psychological warfare
  • Dropping migration target an admission Brexit won’t control immigration
  • Lib Dems: Putting troops on standby is simply scaremongering
  • Lib Dems table no confidence motion in Government

We’ve also received a press release from Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats and, whilst I wouldn’t want to commit to publishing local press releases too, this one caught my eye…

  • Lib Dems launch Friends of Bangladesh at Victory Day event in Tower Hamlets

Lib Dem peers defeat Government to force Prevent review

Liberal Democrat peers have defeated the Government for a second time on its Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

Amendment 32, tabled by a cross-party group of peers including Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunell, requires the Government to carry out an independent review of its Prevent strategy and publish a report within 18 months.

The Amendment was passed on Monday evening by 214 votes to 196.

Following the vote, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs Brian Paddick said:

Liberal Democrats have been calling for an independent review of Prevent for years because many in the communities most affected believe Prevent unfairly singles them out.

We have always argued that a completely independent review could reassure everyone that Prevent is effective, and properly targeted on those who could potentially be a danger to society. It is essential that everyone has confidence in Prevent and that we all work together to keep us safe.

We’re pleased Labour have now accepted our arguments and together we have voted to insist such a review takes place.

The Liberal Democrats have also secured further concessions from the Government on new powers to stop, detain and question people at ports and the border.

Originally, the Bill would have granted these powers in connection with acts that “threaten the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”, but in response to arguments made by Liberal Democrat peer Brian Paddick, Ministers tabled amendments to limit these powers to cases involving national security.

This follows a previous defeat for the Government on Amendment 15, which sets out exemptions to the new offence of “entering or remaining in a designated area”.

Cable: Decision to ramp up no-deal is psychological warfare

Responding to the Cabinet decision to increase preparations for a no-deal, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said;

The decision to ramp up the no deal pressure is psychological warfare. The Conservative Government are attempting to scare MPs, businesses and the public with the threat of a no-deal.

Theresa May is irresponsibly trying to run down the clock so that the only option is to support her discredited deal.

It is time to stop playing political games with our future and take the issues at hand seriously. The only real way out of this deadlock is to hold a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Dropping migration target an admission Brexit won’t control immigration

Responding to reports the Government’s migration target has been left out of draft proposals for a new immigration system, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

If the Conservatives really are dropping their manifesto commitment of a net migration target, that is good news.

It’s an admission that Brexit won’t control immigration as Mrs May promised – otherwise the target would surely be kept.

This was yet another deception of the people by the right-wing nationalist Brexiteers. The truth is that it’s the needs of our economy and the NHS that drive recruitment from overseas, not membership of the EU.

But dropping the target isn’t enough to repair our broken immigration system. The Liberal Democrats demand an end to the hostile environment and investment in an accountable Border Force to secure our borders and rebuild public confidence.

Lib Dems: Putting troops on standby is simply scaremongering

Responding to the reports that there are preparations for up to 3,500 soldiers to step in if Brexit causes disruption, Liberal Democrat Armed Forces Spokesperson Jamie Stone said:

The Tory Government wholeheartedly accept that a no-deal Brexit will create chaos and mayhem. This announcement is simply an attempt to scaremonger MPs, businesses, and the British public into supporting the Prime Minister’s deal.

The Government must stop playing games with our future and diverting public resources to solve an outcome they are able to prevent.

The Prime Minister’s deal does not have support in Parliament and this talk of no deal preparations to scare people is a tactic which has severe consequences. The only real way out of this deadlock is to hold a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems table no confidence motion in Government

The Liberal Democrats, alongside the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green party, have tabled a motion of no confidence in the Conservative Government.

Commenting on this, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Government has challenged the Labour Party to table a real ‘no confidence’ motion. We have now done that for them.

Jeremy Corbyn need only add his name, and the debate and vote would happen before Christmas.

If he fails, it will be yet more evidence that his recalcitrance is really a rouse to avoid supporting a People’s Vote.

The British people now want the final say on Brexit – and millions of Labour supporters will be frustrated that it is Corbyn and his acolytes who are standing in the way.

Lib Dems launch Friends of Bangladesh at Victory Day event in Tower Hamlets

Liberal Democrat London Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita has hailed the launch of Liberal Democrat Friends of Bangladesh at an event to commemorate Bangladeshi Victory Day on Sunday 16th December in Tower Hamlets. The new organisation, launched at the event, will foster understanding and support between the Liberal Democrats and Britain’s Bangladeshi communities, many of whom live in the borough.

Guests at the event were introduced by Chair of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Bangladesh, Abdul Asad (also Vice Chair, Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats and a former councillor). As well as Siobhan Benita (Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London) they included Councillor Rabina Khan (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Shadwell) and Elaine Bagshaw (Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse), plus Bengali academic and educationalist Dr Hasnat Hussain who gave a keynote speech reflecting on the Bangladesh British diaspora and the history of the liberation war.

Abdul Asad reminded attendees of the origins of Victory Day in the ending of the Bangladesh Liberation War and the 1971 Bangladeshi Genocide. As Tower Hamlets is home to one of the largest Bangladeshi communities in the world it was fitting that the area celebrated the birth of one of the youngest countries in the world. The loss of life of so many people created a great passion for democracy, a fundamental belief of the Liberal Democrats.

Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, said:

We remember the many people who lost their lives in this brutal conflict, and the impact this has on communities and on a nation’s identity. It is important to build policies that nurture wellbeing, so we can lead free and prosperous lives. London is the greatest city in the world, because it is so diverse.

Councillor Rabina Khan said:

It is important to remember the systematic murder and abuses by Operation Searchlight, and the liberation war each year. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis lived together in harmony and this was ripped apart by the war. Now we are looking to a brighter future. The door was opened by those who lost their lives in the war, and we must remember them. Today is a very poignant moment for us as a Bangladeshi community to remember our past but also look to a greater, prosperous future.

Elaine Bagshaw, Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Spokesperson said:

2018 has been amazing for the Liberal Democrats in Tower Hamlets, with Rabina and so many people joining to help ensure that the party truly represents the local community. I am very proud to have the opportunity to launch the Liberal Democrat Friends of Bangladesh. The Lib Dems are forward facing, we are open, we are tolerant, and we are very welcoming of diverse communities.

17 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Another week begins, and the Press Team are back on the frontline. I am reminded that press releases are not all that our Press Team do, thus what you see here is not a full reflection of their work. There are specialist press releases not necessarily appropriate for a wider audience, and the team work […]

Another week begins, and the Press Team are back on the frontline.

I am reminded that press releases are not all that our Press Team do, thus what you see here is not a full reflection of their work. There are specialist press releases not necessarily appropriate for a wider audience, and the team work with editors and journalists to gain better coverage, or to bring issues to their attention, and support our Parliamentarians when they interact with broadcast or print media too.

Anyway, on with today’s selection for you to enjoy…

  • Lib Dems: Case for a People’s Vote has spread to very top of Government
  • Home Office hostility denying asylum seekers the right to live with dignity
  • Home Office’s £6 million Windrush bill revealed
  • Cable: Corbyn bottling a real confidence motion
  • Lib Dems table amendment to Corbyn’s fudged no confidence vote

Lib Dems: Case for a People’s Vote has spread to very top of Government

Responding to the news that the Prime Minister will use her statement in the House of Commons this afternoon to address reports that the Government are considering a People’s Vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The political narrative has shifted massively and the People’s Vote campaign is now firmly knocking at the door of Number Ten.

Theresa May has a history of flip-flopping on big political decisions so we should read little into her denials. But the case for another vote has spread through Government to the very top.

The Tories may now see it as a way of clinging onto power, but we will campaign for the option to remain, giving power back to the people.

Home Office hostility denying asylum seekers the right to live with dignity

Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on asylum accommodation, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Government is failing some of the most vulnerable people in our country by bungling the new contracts for asylum accommodation and leaving pregnant women and torture victims in rooms infested by rats and mould.

Despite repeated concerns being raised, the Home Office simply isn’t taking the action needed to make these homes fit for purpose. And now its bungling threatens to reduce the number of places available for asylum seekers, because local authorities may just stop participating.

It’s yet another example of Home Office hostility and incompetence denying people the right to live with dignity.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. Asylum seekers should have their cases handled more quickly and fairly by a new, non-political unit, instead of the discredited Home Office. And asylum seekers should be given the right to work while their claims are decided, so that they are not trapped in sub-standard accommodation.

Home Office’s £6 million Windrush bill revealed

Responding to new details of the Windrush scandal, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called for the Home Office to be stripped of responsibility for immigration altogether.

In a letter to Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, the Home Secretary has revealed that, of the 164 people who were wrongly detained or deported, 16 are deceased. This is up from the 11 people who had been identified as deceased last month.

The letter also reveals that the Home Office has now spent £6.05 million in response to the Windrush scandal, including £165,455.75 on independent advisers and consultants and £56,623.85 on external legal advice.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Each month, the scale of the damage done by the Windrush scandal becomes clearer.

We now know that at least 16 people who were wrongfully detained or deported have since passed away and will never receive any apology or compensation for the appalling wrongs done to them.

And we’ve also learned that the Home Office has now spent more than £6 million responding to the scandal – money that could’ve been far better spent fixing our immigration system and investing in public services.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will prevent a repeat of the Windrush scandal by dismantling the Tories’ hostile environment and taking responsibility for immigration away from the Home Office and its toxic culture.

Cable: Corbyn bottling a real confidence motion

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s motion on the Prime Minister’s future, Liberal Democrat Leader, Vince Cable said:

Corbyn knows that for a no confidence motion to matter it should relate to the Conservative Government as a whole. That is the way to precipitate the General Election he says he wants.

Instead he turns his fire not on the Tories or Brexit but Theresa May personally, ducking the real issue and bottling the real vote the Commons needs.

Jeremy Corbyn should support a proper, effective confidence motion straight away, test whether MPs will vote to remove them from office and, if not, honour Labour’s promise to get behind a People’s Vote.

A choice between the deal and remaining in the European Union is the only way to get the country out of the present logjam.

Lib Dems table amendment to Corbyn’s fudged no confidence vote

Tonight the Liberal Democrats have tabled a cross-party amendment to Jeremy Corbyn’s no confidence vote, which if passed, would trigger the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and lead to a general election.

Commenting on the amendment, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

It’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn is using every subterfuge possible to avoid the responsibility of pushing a real motion of no confidence in the government.

He seems more interested in installing a new Tory Prime Minister in Downing Street than in the General Election he keeps talking about.

By contrast, our joint amendment shows what a real opposition would do. It will test MPs’ views on the real question and would remove every Labour excuse not to back a People’s Vote on the deal, with an option to remain in the European Union.

11 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Amidst the chaos that is Westminster at the moment, at least somebody was trying to do something liberal. Admittedly, it wasn’t successful, but as another step towards a more liberal drugs policy, it was certainly worth the effort. Otherwise, another day of national humiliation for our country, as Theresa May found herself child-locked into a […]

Amidst the chaos that is Westminster at the moment, at least somebody was trying to do something liberal. Admittedly, it wasn’t successful, but as another step towards a more liberal drugs policy, it was certainly worth the effort. Otherwise, another day of national humiliation for our country, as Theresa May found herself child-locked into a limousine. It’s a metaphor for something, isn’t it?…

So, what has gone out in the name of the Party today…

  • Lamb: Prohibition of cannabis is causing harm across the country
  • Cable: Govt economic analysis on Brexit misleading
  • EU confirms May has no room to renegotiate Brexit
  • Lamb: It is shameful that we continue to criminalise cannabis users
  • ‘Gold-plated’ visa chaos shows Home Office can’t take back control
  • Lib Dems demand more action on ‘dangerous’ short prison sentences

Lamb: Prohibition of cannabis is causing harm across the country

This afternoon, former Health Minister Norman Lamb will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill to legalise the possession and consumption of cannabis.

He will call upon the Government to provide for the regulation of the production, distribution and sale of cannabis; and for connected purposes. Identifying the clear benefit of legalisation to those suffering with chronic pain, and the protection of young people.

Norman is expected to say:

It is clear the recent reforms are not working. This leaves the Government with a choice: either it can tinker with a failing, arbitrary system which condemns many people to a lifetime of pain and misery; or it can look in the round at the harm that prohibition of cannabis is causing across the country and try to come up with a more enlightened approach.

My Bill offers a more rational alternative to this mess. With strict regulation of the growing, sale and marketing of cannabis, with an age limit of 18 for the purchase and consumption of cannabis, with clear controls over potency of what is sold in licensed outlets.

It’s time for this country to act on the evidence and to protect children and young people from harm.

Cable: Govt economic analysis on Brexit misleading

Responding to the Treasury Select Committee Report, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

This scathing report by the Treasury Committee rightly picks apart this Conservative Government’s misleading Brexit assessments.

If there’s one thing economists and business leaders agree on, it’s that we are better off remaining in the EU. That is why the people must get the final say on the deal, will the option to remain in the EU.

EU confirms May has no room to renegotiate Brexit

Speaking after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned this morning there would be no renegotiation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

This is yet further confirmation of the idiocy of Theresa May’s decision to unilaterally postpone the vote on her deal.

What was the point of postponing the vote when nothing about the deal will change? It was just about avoiding egg on her face with a humiliating defeat. The Tories have no regard for the uncertainty Brexit poses to businesses across the UK.

As the Prime Minister previously warned, this is the only deal on the table. It will make people poorer and reduce the UK’s standing in the world. That is why Liberal Democrats are fighting for a People’s Vote, including the option to remain in the EU.

Lamb: It is shameful that we continue to criminalise cannabis users

Responding to the narrow defeat of his Ten Minute Rule Bill that sought to legalise and regulate the use of cannabis in the UK, former Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

Its depressing that rational, evidence-based reform was opposed by Conservative MPs.

It is total hypocrisy that the most dangerous drug of all, in terms of harm to yourself and others, alcohol, is consumed in large quantities right here in our national Parliament, whilst we criminalise others for using a less dangerous drug – with many using it for the relief of pain.

It is shameful that we continue to criminalise people who use cannabis for the relief of pain. It is equally shameful that we criminalise many young people for using cannabis, when many people in Government will have themselves used cannabis at some stage of their lives.

‘Gold-plated’ visa chaos shows Home Office can’t take back control

Responding to today’s U-turn on suspending ‘gold-plated’ visas, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has attacked the Government’s immigration plans as “simply unworkable”.

Last week, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes announced that tier 1 (investor) visas would be suspended from midnight last Friday, due to concerns that they were being used for money laundering. However, the Home Office Migration Policy Department confirmed today that the scheme “is not currently suspended”.

Ed Davey said:

The Home Office can’t even take action on one small part of the immigration system without creating chaos and confusion. How do the Tories expect it to cope with a whole new system for millions of European workers if we leave the EU?

The truth is that Theresa May’s plans are simply unworkable. That’s why she has refused to publish her immigration white paper for more than a year – because she knows it will expose the hollowness of her promise to ‘take back control’.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. Now that Theresa May has delayed the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal, there’s no excuse for her not to publish the white paper beforehand, so that MPs can properly scrutinise the proposals.

Lib Dems demand more action on ‘dangerous’ short prison sentences

Responding to the Prisons Minister’s appearance before the Justice Select Committee today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called on the Government to introduce “a presumption against short prison sentences and greater use of community sentences”.

The Prisons Minister, Rory Stewart, told the committee that the “wrong kind of short sentences actually endangers the public” because they increase re-offending and destabilise prisons. He also announced that the Ministry of Justice now has a new GPS tagging system that allows it to monitor offenders in the community.

Ed Davey said:

It is good to hear Tory Ministers finally admit what the Liberal Democrats have long been arguing: short prison sentences don’t cut crime.

But despite the evidence, the Government is trying to create even more short sentences. Even worse, some of these are mandatory sentences, which will tie judges’ hands and worsen prison overcrowding while failing to actually prevent crime.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We need a little less talk from Ministers about ending short sentences, and a little more action.

That’s why we are opposing the Government’s new mandatory sentences, and calling for a presumption against short prison sentences and greater use of tough community sentences, which have been shown to be more effective at reducing reoffending.