20 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Another busy day, but I’m pleased to note that a bit more use is being made of our Spokespeople in the Lords. After all, there are rather more of them than in the Commons, and they’re a valuable asset when it comes to holding the Government to account… Cable: Bank of England must conduct honest […]

Another busy day, but I’m pleased to note that a bit more use is being made of our Spokespeople in the Lords. After all, there are rather more of them than in the Commons, and they’re a valuable asset when it comes to holding the Government to account…

  • Cable: Bank of England must conduct honest assessment of Brexit deal
  • Cable: Govt must block Interpol election of Alexander Prokopchuk
  • Tories to blame for missed NHS targets
  • Cable: Our priority is building the momentum for a People’s Vote
  • Vulnerable people put in homes not fit for human habitation
  • The licence fee is not the Government’s to spend

Cable: Bank of England must conduct honest assessment of Brexit deal

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has today urged the Bank of England to conduct “an honest assessment of the Brexit deal and the options” and produce economic analysis of what remaining in the EU will mean for the UK economy.

The calls follow the appearance of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney before the Commons Treasury committee this morning where he said that the Bank of England was “not intending to look at providing additional analysis on the third scenario which is no Brexit at all.”

However, just last night the House of Commons forced the Government to accept an amendment to the Finance Bill which means Ministers must publish assessments comparing the UK’s economic prospects between Theresa May’s deal and remaining in the EU. The Liberal Democrats want the Bank of England to follow suit.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Last week the PM confirmed that ‘No Brexit’ was an option for the UK going forward; it is now going from possible to probable.

The public deserve to see a full and comprehensive assessment of all the options available to us – they should have had it two years ago in all honesty.

The Bank of England need to do the responsible thing, and provide an analysis of the benefits of remaining in the EU, the emergence of information such as this is a game changer, and shows more than ever why we need to take this decision back to the people with a final say on May’s deal.

Cable: Govt must block Interpol election of Alexander Prokopchuk

Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable will today demand that the Conservative Government vote to block the election of Alexander Prokopchuk to the position of President of Interpol.

Vince Cable will raise the issue in an Urgent Question in the House of Commons later today.

Speaking ahead of the exchange, Vince Cable said:

It is completely unacceptable that the Conservative Government are considering voting to elect Prokopchuk. It is particularly mind-blowing that this is at a time when the UK has Interpol Red Notices out for the arrest of Russian suspects involved in the Salisbury attack and at a time when the EU is moving to a vote on sanctions against Russia.

Prokopchuk has been the head of Russia’s National Central Bureau since 2011, which means that he has had direct responsibility for Russia’s abuse of Interpol, including the inappropriate use of Red Notices to arrest individuals. His election would be an insult to the Salisbury victims and those who have been unjustly targeted by Russia’s red notices. It is making Interpol look like gangsters.

It’s time the Conservative Government stood up for human rights and the rule of law. The Conservative Government must demonstrate that they are taking Russia’s abuse of Interpol and the Salisbury attack seriously. They must vote against Prokopchuk’s election.

Tories to blame for missed NHS targets

Responding to the reports that nearly one in five local hospital services are failing to hit any of their key waiting-time targets, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

News that waiting times are consistently being missed across the NHS is shameful, but sadly not surprising.

The Conservative Government are to blame for these missed targets. By not respecting doctors, cutting nursing bursaries and creating a hostile environment for the EU doctors and nurses working in the NHS, the Tories have created a staffing crisis in our hospitals.

Patients deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better of Theresa May and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats have consistently been the only major party demanding better for our NHS workforce by campaigning for a People’s Vote, with an option to remain.

Cable: Our priority is building the momentum for a People’s Vote

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable today met with opposition parties where he set out his priority to “build the momentum for a People’s Vote”.

The meeting of opposition parties in Westminster today was attended by Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Caroline Lucas for the Greens and Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Roberts.

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

I made it explicitly clear to the SNP and others that the priority must be stepping up efforts to build the momentum for a People’s Vote. That has been the priority for the Liberal Democrats for over two years, and it remains so.

I am glad the other opposition parties were today able to agree to work together to achieve a ‘People’s Vote’, including the option to remain in the EU.

Meanwhile, Labour is missing in action. They claim to want a General Election before a People’s Vote, but are making no moves to get one. Jeremy Corbyn cannot continue to court both sides of this debate: it is time to decide.

We know that any Brexit will hit the pockets of hard-working people he claims to represent. As the Conservative Government falters, the prospect of no Brexit is going from possible to probable.

Vulnerable people put in homes not fit for human habitation

Responding to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on the Home Office’s management of asylum accommodation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

This is a report that should shame the Government. It reveals that they are housing some of the most vulnerable people – including pregnant women and people who have suffered torture and domestic abuse – in rooms infested by rats, bed bugs and mould.

Instead of facing up to this evidence, the Independent Chief Inspector accuses the Home Office of underplaying it. This is yet another example of the Home Office’s toxic culture preventing people from living 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.

The licence fee is not the Government’s to spend

Responding to the launch of the BBC consultation period to decide how licence fees for over-75s should be paid for, Liberal Democrat Culture spokesperson Baroness Bonham-Carter said:

I welcome the BBC’s public consultation into the TV licence fee concession for older people.

The underhand way in which the Tories made the BBC take on the costs of funding free TV licenses for the over-75s was reprehensible. This was something the Liberal Democrats successfully blocked during the Coalition Government.

The licence fee is not Government’s to spend. It is not public money, but the public’s money which should be used to invest in BBC content.

Jane Bonham Carter reviews biography of Marie Colvin

I always liked reading Marie Colvin’s reports from war zones. She brought the stories of people whose lives were constrained or ruined by war to our breakfast tables. She made you understand the dilemmas and dangers people faced just to get through the day. Colvin died in Syria in 2012. Her friend, Lib Dem Peer […]

I always liked reading Marie Colvin’s reports from war zones. She brought the stories of people whose lives were constrained or ruined by war to our breakfast tables. She made you understand the dilemmas and dangers people faced just to get through the day.

Colvin died in Syria in 2012. Her friend, Lib Dem Peer Jane Bonham-Carter, reviewed a new biography of her written by Channel 4’s Lindsey Hillsum in this week’s Sunday Times.

She was extraordinarily brave. The stories of Marie’s courage are legion, but the one that stands out for me was East Timor. There, holed up in 1999 in a UN compound with 1,500 women and children, she and two other heroic female reporters, Minka Nijhuis and Irena Cristalis, refused to go when an evacuation of international and national staff and the press was announced. She stayed, reported on the plight of those left trapped via her satellite phone, and after four tense days was able to leave for safety. Not an outcome she expected — her sister Cat remembers her calling “to say goodbye as she was likely to be killed”. Marie later wrote that “staying in the East Timor compound was one of the moments in my life of which I am most proud”.

As Hilsum notes, Marie was hopeless with technology, frequently erasing stories by accident and needing help to send copy from her computer. But, as I saw countless times, she had an extraordinary ability to get people to open up to her. What she wanted to do was tell people’s stories, and relay their words to the outside world.

Despite her apparent addiction to danger, she did not court death. She loved life, absolutely loved it — loved young people, too, and was loved in return by them. But she had her own horrors to deal with, in particular in Sri Lanka in 2001, where, despite clearly identifying herself as a journalist, yelling it, in fact, she was fired on by a government soldier.

You can read the whole thing here.(£)

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