Jane Dodds selected to fight Brecon and Radnorshire

Good news from Wales. The Welsh Lib Dem Leader, Jane Dodds, has been selected as the Westminster candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire. Jane is a brilliant and caring politician who has been championing issues such as tackling loneliness. Last week, she wrote about her wish to see Universal Basic Income trialled in Wales. We held […]

Good news from Wales. The Welsh Lib Dem Leader, Jane Dodds, has been selected as the Westminster candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire. Jane is a brilliant and caring politician who has been championing issues such as tackling loneliness. Last week, she wrote about her wish to see Universal Basic Income trialled in Wales.

We held the Westminster seat until 2015 and Kirsty Williams holds the seat at Welsh Assembly level. We also did well in the last local elections

Jane said:

I am really pleased that members from across Brecon and Radnorshire have put their trust in me to be their candidate for Westminster and I am proud to be part of the Welsh Liberal Democrat team for Mid-Wales.

Brecon and Radnorshire is being let down by our existing Conservative MP. Under the Conservatives, we’ve seen a sharp increase in cases of homelessness, the botched rollout of Universal Credit continues and, with only 20 days to go, we still don’t even know what is going to happen with Brexit.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats demand better than this debacle. We want to see a Wales which is fairer, international and puts a new green economy at the heart of everything we do.

I think I bring a new perspective on the issues which affect people in our communities and I look forward to working with our great Liberal Democrat Councillors and those who share our liberal values to bring about real and effective change which genuinely changes our society for the better.

Her colleague and predecessor as leader Kirsty Williams welcomed Jane’s selection:

Jane is a passionate community campaigner and I’m really pleased she has been selected to represent Brecon and Radnorshire.

Through Richard Livsey and Roger Williams we have a proud tradition of Liberal Democrat MPs fighting our corner in Westminster. It’s a tradition that needs to be restored.

I look forward to working alongside Jane as we stand up for values of tolerance, openness and opportunity.

The local Conservative MP, Chris Davies, currently faces charges relating to his Parliamentary expenses. He appears in Court on March 22nd.

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

LibLink Jane Dodds: Why the Welsh Lib Dems want to trial Universal Basic Income in Wales

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds supports the Universal Basic Income as a means to tackle poverty and inequality. She explains why in an article for Nation Cymru: In Wales, like the rest of the UK, we are seeing increasing homelessness and food bank use. We need to look for progressive solutions and to continue […]

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds supports the Universal Basic Income as a means to tackle poverty and inequality.

She explains why in an article for Nation Cymru:

In Wales, like the rest of the UK, we are seeing increasing homelessness and food bank use.

We need to look for progressive solutions and to continue to oppose government policies that demonise the poor.

One possible solution is Universal Basic Income (UBI), an idea that has been the subject of much debate across the political spectrum, including within my own party.

UBI is rooted in the idea that people seek purpose and, if given the opportunity and freedom to do so, will make the best decisions about their lives. As a Liberal I strongly believe everyone should be able to make decisions about their own lives and live a life they are proud of.

UBI would give people a guaranteed minimum income, giving them the freedom to live their lives and make decisions of their own free will, not on the basis of where their next paycheque comes from.

Opponents of UBI argue that it would damage economic growth and lead to fewer people in work, but I think this view underestimates people. Money is only one factor driving us to work and I suspect that most people would take the freedom UBI would give them to pursue the job they’ve always wanted to do, not quit work altogether.

While some people may indeed choose to work less, that is not necessarily a bad thing. They may do so to spend more time with their family, achieve a better (and healthier) work/life balance, upskill themselves, undertake charity work or care for loved ones.

This does not mean there aren’t challenges surrounding UBI, but for me we can’t keep on trying the same old methods and expect to get new results. That’s why I want us to host some trials of UBI right here in Wales, so we can find out just how practical an idea it is.

There have been several trials across the world, each showing varied results. This proves UBI is a complex issue which must be carefully looked at and the system adjusted to match the needs of each respective country.

She outlined the potential results:

Before we discount the idea let us consider what the research has shown. Even at the reduced rates, under a Partial UBI scheme, we would see:

  • Child poverty fall by over 50%,

  • Working age poverty drop by 20%,

  • Pensioner poverty fall by a third.

You can read her whole article here.

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

19 February 2019 – today’s press releases

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

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

Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector

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

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

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

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

Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain

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

In the chamber Mr Carmichael asked the Secretary of State:

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

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

Following the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 February 2019 – today’s press

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

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

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

Lib Dems: Rail reform proposals signals change needed

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

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

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

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

Govt consultations on plastic must be followed by action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cable: Honda decision another hammer blow to the UK economy

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

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

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

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

Lib Dems will work with like-minded MPs – Cable

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

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

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

Statement on the death of Paul Flynn

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

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

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

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

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

13 February 2019 – (the rest of) today’s press releases

Welsh Lib Dems welcome enhancement of MyTravelPass young persons’ discount scheme The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the announcement from the Welsh Government that the MyTravelPass young persons’ bus discount scheme is to be enhanced. The initial pilot scheme was secured by Welsh Liberal Democrats in opposition during the last Assembly. The scheme, which has […]

Welsh Lib Dems welcome enhancement of MyTravelPass young persons’ discount scheme

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the announcement from the Welsh Government that the MyTravelPass young persons’ bus discount scheme is to be enhanced.

The initial pilot scheme was secured by Welsh Liberal Democrats in opposition during the last Assembly.

The scheme, which has evolved and improved since its pilot in 2015, now offers a third off the fares for all journeys taken by young people aged between 16 and 21 – right up until their 22nd birthday.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:

It’s encouraging to see the MyTravelPass scheme continue to be improved. This will make it cheaper and easier for young people to use the bus to get to school, college, university or work.

Our young people have enough stresses and financial pressures to face without having to worry about how they’ll get where they need to be. This step will make their lives just that little bit easier.

But this scheme isn’t just helping young people. By encouraging more young people to use public transport, this scheme is reducing congestion, improving air quality and helping combat climate change. This benefits every member of our society.

We’re proud to have secured the initial pilot for this scheme whilst in opposition in the last Assembly. This latest enhancement shows the benefits the scheme has created in just a few short years.

Govt falls to heavy Lords defeat

Responding to tonight’s Government defeat in the House of Lords by 86 votes, Liberal Democrat Leader in the Lords Dick Newby said:

The defeat of the Government this evening undoubtedly demonstrates the House of Lords has no faith in their ability to deliver on any of its promises. Their recklessness as they gamble with crashing out in bid to scare MPs into voting for Theresa May’s deal is a dereliction of duty.

Ministers’ assurances that we can get all the Brexit related legislation through Parliament by 29 March are insulting.To pretend that the Lords can pass bills on trade, healthcare, agriculture, fisheries, immigration and the supposedly amended Prime Minister’s deal as well as the 600 strong mountain of Statutory Instruments is nothing short of ridiculous.

Peers across the House are aware of this but simply all those voting with the Government represent a willingness to put party and personal interest before that of the country.

The Liberal Democrats are clear, that as the effects of Brexit become more apparent, the only way forward is for Theresa May to take no deal off the table and offer the people a final say, with the option of remaining in the EU.

8 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Jenny Rathbone Warning Unacceptable – Welsh Lib Dems The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the decision to only give Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone a formal warning following an investigation into anti-Semitic comments she made. Jenny Rathbone had already been readmitted into the Welsh Labour Assembly Group in January whilst the investigation was ongoing. Her […]

Jenny Rathbone Warning Unacceptable – Welsh Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the decision to only give Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone a formal warning following an investigation into anti-Semitic comments she made.

Jenny Rathbone had already been readmitted into the Welsh Labour Assembly Group in January whilst the investigation was ongoing.

Her remarks about a synagogue in Cyncoed were branded “extremely offensive” by the synagogue’s rabbi Michoel Rose.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:

It’s extremely disappointing Jenny Rathbone has been admitted to the party with only a formal warning for her comments, which were clearly anti-Semitic.

I can only imagine the message this decision sends to the constituents of hers who attend the synagogue she made these offensive remarks about.

The way this entire process has been handled has been a farce, especially the fact Jenny was readmitted into the Welsh Labour group despite still being under investigation.

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour across the UK have consistently shown themselves unwilling, or unable, to tackle the anti-Semitism in their party, now Welsh Labour appear to be doing the same.

There can be no place for anti-Semitism in Welsh politics or Welsh society. That is why Jenny Rathbone should stand down, such views cannot be tolerated from anyone – let alone a sitting assembly member.

Lib Dems: Labour cannot keep playing both sides on Brexit

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake has warned that the Labour leadership “cannot keep playing both sides and get away with it” after John McDonnell suggested Labour would support a People’s Vote, if the Prime Minister does not support Jeremy Corbyn’s demands.

The Shadow Chancellor’s comments come despite Labour sources confirming the party would not in fact automatically back a People’s Vote if May rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit terms.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Labour leadership cannot keep playing both sides and get away with it. One minute they are offering terms upon which they would vote for a Tory Brexit, and the next the Labour party is offering a lukewarm endorsement of plans to give the people the chance to decide.

Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies cannot keep stringing along millions of Labour members and voters who demand the party campaign for a people’s vote now that Labour have failed to secure a general election. The stakes are too high.

There is no deal better than the deal the UK has as a member of the EU. The public deserve the chance to reject this mess with a people’s vote, with the option to stay in the EU.

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

… and here are the rest! A Second Chance for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon Lib Dems oppose “shockingly complacent” Tory funding for police Cable: PM speech proves the Govt has run out of ideas Brexit Bribes Breach Bribery Act – Welsh Lib Dems A Second Chance for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon The Welsh Liberal Democrats […]

… and here are the rest!

  • A Second Chance for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon
  • Lib Dems oppose “shockingly complacent” Tory funding for police
  • Cable: PM speech proves the Govt has run out of ideas
  • Brexit Bribes Breach Bribery Act – Welsh Lib Dems

A Second Chance for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed plans from Tidal Lagoon Power to build the Swansea Tidal Lagoon without the need for funding from the UK Government.

Last year the UK Government decided not to support the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, despite the strong support the lagoon enjoyed from experts, businesses, local government, Welsh Government and politicians across the political spectrum.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

We wholeheartedly welcome this positive news. We’ve long supported the Swansea Tidal Lagoon and were immensely disappointed when the UK Government decided not to support it.

This only shows how innovative the Welsh economy can be, whether the UK Government supports it or not. We urge governments and businesses to wholeheartedly get behind this new proposal.

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a vital pathfinder project that has the potential to transform the Welsh economy and produce cheap, reliable and green energy for generations to come.

Now Wylfa Newydd has been put on hold, it’s more important than ever projects like the Swansea Tidal Lagoon get built. We now know we can build the lagoon with or without the help of the UK Government, but it’s not too late for the UK Government to give the project the funding it deserves.

Lib Dems oppose “shockingly complacent” Tory funding for police

Ahead of the vote on the Police Grant Report, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Violent crime is destroying the lives of far too many young people, yet Conservative Ministers’ response is shockingly complacent and totally inadequate.

This Government has inflicted £1 billion of real-terms cuts on frontline policing and taken 5,000 officers off our streets since 2015, and the new police settlement we’re voting on today contains not a single penny to reverse that.

At a time when serious violence is soaring, the Home Secretary has abrogated his responsibility and passed the buck to local police chiefs. That’s especially shameful given that those areas with the worst knife crime problem are the least able to raise funds through Council Tax.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must give local police forces the funding they need to recruit more officers and restore the community policing that prevents crime and keeps us safe.

Cable: PM speech proves the Govt has run out of ideas

Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech in Northern Ireland, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

Theresa May’s lacklustre speech in Northern Ireland proves she has no real idea of a way forward. She has ratted on her own agreement with the EU and breached faith with Northern Ireland in the process.

People deserve better than just words when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement. The Prime Minister must rule out a hard border by taking no-deal off the table and give the people the final say on Brexit, including the option to remain in the EU.

Brexit Bribes Breach Bribery Act – Welsh Lib Dems

In a letter published in The Times, Welsh Liberal Democrat Peer Martin Thomas has questioned whether the Government are in breach of the Bribery Act (2010) over plans to offer MPs money for their constituency to vote for the Brexit deal.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Lord Thomas of Gresford, QC said:

It’s vital our politics avoids trading votes for money. If this wretched Brexit deal can only survive by diverting tax payers’ money to several compliant MPs’ constituencies to buy their support in ramming it through the House of Commons, we are all profoundly the losers.

Wales desperately needs its fair share of the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund, intended by the government to replace the European Regional Support funds we will be losing on Brexit. It must be distributed according to need, and not influenced by corrupt deals with individual MPs.

5 February 2019 – today’s press releases (part 1)

It’s been a busy day today, so we’ll break today’s releases up into two pieces, starting with… Govt must take action on projected rise of car emissions Cable: Brexit causing the economy to stagnate EU citizens in Holyhead face 224 mile round trip to register for settled status Davey questions Justice Minister on potential Brexit […]

It’s been a busy day today, so we’ll break today’s releases up into two pieces, starting with…

  • Govt must take action on projected rise of car emissions
  • Cable: Brexit causing the economy to stagnate
  • EU citizens in Holyhead face 224 mile round trip to register for settled status
  • Davey questions Justice Minister on potential Brexit bribes

Govt must take action on projected rise of car emissions

Today a report from Friends of the Earth, and the think-tank Transport for Quality of Life highlights that a rise in emissions from the roads could have a hugely detrimental effect on climate change and public health.

Commenting former Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary of State Ed Davey said:

The Liberal Democrats welcome this report and agree more radical thinking needs to be done in the transport sector to tackle climate change.

While real progress has been made in the power sector, with renewables now replacing by dirty fossil fuels, thanks in part to Liberal Democrat policies, the Conservatives must now cut emissions elsewhere.

Transport is one of the biggest contributors of emissions so we desperately need a more ambitious plan to slash emissions.

Liberal Democrats want a new Green Transport Act with a new programme of measures to significantly reduce emissions from road transport.

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson said:

The Conservatives are presiding over a shameful decline in public transport at a time when we need to cut emissions, not only to combat climate change, but to tackle the public health disaster in our towns and cities.

Since 2015 the DfT’s own figures show a decline of nearly 200 million bus journeys. This Tory Government claim they are committed to public transport, but instead they are driving it into a wall. It is clear that for the Conservatives the car remains king.

Liberal Democrats would aim to improve bus services, encouraging people to move out of cars and into public transport. We would create a nationwide bus plan, creating a model shift towards public transport use, we would enable councils to choose how they run their own services and we would introduce a discount card for Young People.

Cable: Brexit causing the economy to stagnate

Responding to the news that growth in the service sector has stalled according to the IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

There is now cumulative evidence that Brexit uncertainty is causing the economy to stagnate. Even if we avoid no-deal, we will have to face the prospect of a blind Brexit.

With our economy in such a fragile state, it would take very little to push the country into a recession. This is the risk the government is taking.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that there is only one way to end this paralysing economic uncertainty. The public must be given a People’s Vote on Brexit, with the option to Remain.

EU citizens in Holyhead face 224 mile round trip to register for settled status

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.

The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 ‘document scanning’ centres instead.

For Holyhead, the closest ‘document scanning’ centre is Trafford. According to analysis by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Holyhead, would face costs of £55 on the train for at least a six and a half hour round trip. The drive would be a 224 mile round trip costing around £56 in fuel.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

Too many people in Wales are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.

For anyone who doesn’t have an android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in in Holyhead that means facing a 224 mile round trip and paying over £50 for the privilege. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:

Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?

It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit.

Davey questions Justice Minister on potential Brexit bribes

The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has questioned the Justice Minister, David Gauke, on whether the Government are in breach of the Bribery Act (2010) over plans to offer MPs money for their constituency to vote for the Brexit deal. The Justice minister stated that he would meet with Ed Davey to discuss this important matter.

The issue has come to prominence after a letter from Liberal Democrat Peer Martin Thomas was published in the Sunday Times.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

With media reports that a desperate Number 10 is seeking to tempt Opposition MPs to back their Brexit deal by offering constituency favours, Liberal Democrats are right to call foul play.

The Government could be in clear breach of the Bribery Act. I am pleased David Gauke is now prepared to meet me to discuss this serious matter, and I will be seeking an early date.

Brexit should not be stitched up with backroom deals but sorted out with a people’s vote, with an option to remain in the EU.

31 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Govt must follow evidence not chase headlines in fight against knife crime Moran: Rough sleeping shames our whole country Tory Govt woefully unprepared for no deal Brexit Cable: Cancelled recess shows extent of Tory chaos Davey: Shocking new figures expose prison crisis Pharma giant stockpiling emergency trauma packs Huge increase in part-time and postgraduate graduates […]

  • Govt must follow evidence not chase headlines in fight against knife crime
  • Moran: Rough sleeping shames our whole country
  • Tory Govt woefully unprepared for no deal Brexit
  • Cable: Cancelled recess shows extent of Tory chaos
  • Davey: Shocking new figures expose prison crisis
  • Pharma giant stockpiling emergency trauma packs
  • Huge increase in part-time and postgraduate graduates
  • Cash-strapped councils asked to prepare for no deal is an insult to local services

Govt must follow evidence not chase headlines in fight against knife crime

Responding to the Home Secretary’s plan to give new powers to the police to tackle knife crime, Liberal Demcorat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The UK is in the grip of a knife crime epidemic, so all ideas should be considered, especially ways to stop the glorification and incitement of this violence on social media.

But Ministers must remember that ASBOs have a very mixed record – they were often seen as a “badge of honour’ by young offenders and required significant police resources which no longer exist thanks to the Conservatives’ police cuts.

Worse still, this plan ignores the evidence and the policy of the current Justice Secretary, that short term prison sentences won’t deter young people from carrying knives and instead increase the risk of re-offending.

Ministers must follow the evidence not chase the headlines.

The victims of knife crime and their families deserve better and Liberal Democrats demand better for them. We will recruit more officers to restore community policing and invest in a proper public health approach that brings together youth services, community groups, schools and the NHS to tackle this shocking rise in violent crime.

Moran: Rough sleeping shames our whole country

The Liberal Democrats have today called for cross-party support for Layla Moran’s Bill to scrap the Vagrancy Act following the publication of official figures which reveal there were 4,677 rough sleepers across England in Autumn 2018.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The fact that thousands of people sleep rough every night shames our whole country. These figures don’t even capture the many more ‘hidden homeless’ in insecure and unsuitable accommodation.

Even worse, hundreds of homeless people die each year, as the tragic death of Kane Walker in Birmingham on Sunday reminded us. The Tories are failing our most vulnerable people.

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

Tory Govt woefully unprepared for no deal Brexit

Responding to the Institute for Government report which warns the Conservative Government isn’t ready for the prospect of the UK leaving the EU with no-deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

This report makes clear what we all fear: the Tory Government is woefully unprepared for crashing out of the EU.

Despite spending over £4 billion on no-deal preparations, the Conservative Government have still failed to ensure that vital laws will be in place or that our health, food or legal sectors will have the systems in place to cope with crashing out.

What’s worse, this report suggests the Tories have also been unhelpfully secretive in the way they have made preparations. No need to guess why.

There are just 8 weeks left until supposed exit day and yet there is no deal in sight and Theresa May refuses to take no deal off the table. Liberal Democrats demand better. It’s time to give the people the final say on the deal with the option to stay in the EU.

Cable: Cancelled recess shows extent of Tory chaos

Responding to the announcement that February recess for the House of Commons has been cancelled, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Liberal Democrats have no problem with working hard to deliver whatever needs to be done in the national interest.

But there is no doubt that the Tory Government is in this desperate position as a result of their own chaotic planning. There is a huge tranche of legislation which needs to be worked through and given proper scrutiny.

The Prime Minister must accept reality and seek a postponement to the Article 50 deadline which would give time, not just for Parliament to legislate, but for the people to have the final say. Nobody voted for this no deal outcome the Conservative Government is threatening as they run down the clock.

Davey: Shocking new figures expose prison crisis

The Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to tackle overcrowding and recruit more prison officers following new figures showing a dramatic increase in deaths, self-harm and assaults in prison.

The statistics, published today by the Ministry of Justice, show that in 2018 there were 325 deaths in prison, up 10% since 2017.

They figures also reveal self-harm incidents and assaults have reached new record highs. In the 12 months to September 2018, there were:

  • 52,814 incidents of self-harm, up 23% year-on-year;
  • 33,803 assaults, up 20% year-on-year & the highest on record;
  • This includes 10,085 assaults on staff, up 29% year-on-year.

Liberal Democrats Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

These shocking statistics are yet more evidence that our prisons are in crisis. They are stuffed full of people on short sentences, leaving overstretched staff simply unable to cope and unable to provide the rehabilitative and mental health services prisoners need.

Prisoners are fighting, self-harming, attacking staff and even dying as a result. The Liberal Democrats demand better.

Ministers should urgently recruit more prison officers and reduce overcrowding by ending pointless short-term sentences. Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, to cut re-offending and make our communities safer.

Pharma giant stockpiling emergency trauma packs

Responding to the announcement that emergency “trauma packs” flown into the UK during terrorist attacks are being stockpiled by pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP, said:

Vital trauma packs can be sent to hospitals from the EU within hours. Customs checks will delay the packs getting to patients in emergency situations – it’s terrifying. The prime minister must take no deal off the table now.

This short time frame is particularly necessary during unexpected large-scale emergencies, such as terrorist attacks, as hospitals do not always stockpile these packs on a large enough scale to deal with these extreme emergencies.

It is completely within Theresa May’s power to rule out a no deal but she continues to refuse as she attempts to scaremonger people into supporting her defeated deal. The only way out of this chaos is to offer the people a final say, with the option to remain in the EU.

Huge increase in part-time and postgraduate graduates

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds has welcomed figures showing a huge expansion in Welsh part-time undergraduates and postgraduate students.

Figures published today show that there has been a 35% increase in part-time undergraduates from Wales. There has also been a 58% increase in the number of postgraduates supported.

Under reforms introduced by Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister Kirsty Williams, students from Wales now receive the equivalent of the National Living Wage in grants and loans while they study.

Wales is also now the only country in Europe to introduce equivalent maintenance support across full-time and part-time undergraduates, as well as postgraduates. This has resulted in huge boost in students applying.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:

These figures are fantastic news for Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long argued that living costs are the biggest barrier to people studying at university. That is why, in government, Kirsty Williams has introduced a new package that ensures students receive the equivalent of the National Living Wage in grants and loans while they study. The figures published today show that these reforms are making a real difference.

Wales is now the only country in Europe to introduce equivalent maintenance support across full-time, part-time undergraduates, as well as postgraduates. This is yet further evidence of the positive impact the Welsh Liberal Democrats are having in government.

Cash-strapped councils asked to prepare for no deal is an insult to local services

Responding to the letter from Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government calling for local authorities to prepare for a no deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Local Government Wera Hobhouse said:

Asking cash-strapped councils to prepare for a no deal when it is in the Government’s gift to rule it out is nothing short of an insult to local services.

With local government being eroded at every opportunity and councils struggling to even run just the most basic services, to add this burden for no reason other than to scaremonger support for the Prime Minister’s already defeated deal is utterly shameful.

Local government is being disregarded and facing funding cut after funding cut. Adult social care is facing a £3.6 billion funding gap by 2025, yet the Conservative Government have delayed the publication of Social Care Green Paper six times. The Tories are wasting the public’s time and money navel-gazing and it is having a damaging effect on our communities.

The only way out of this chaos is to give the public a final say, with the option to remain in the EU.

Brexit votes open thread

I’ve come home this evening with a very heavy heart. It’s more like the Spoilt Brat of Legislatures than the Mother of Parliaments, isn’t it? The debate this afternoon has been profoundly depressing, particularly the early stages which was more of a bunfight than anything else. Good job they weren’t debating anything absolutely essential to […]

I’ve come home this evening with a very heavy heart. It’s more like the Spoilt Brat of Legislatures than the Mother of Parliaments, isn’t it? The debate this afternoon has been profoundly depressing, particularly the early stages which was more of a bunfight than anything else. Good job they weren’t debating anything absolutely essential to our existence, isn’t it?

There are only a few willing to talk about how the Emperor is stark naked.

While our lot are fighting the good fight inside, Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds is in Parliament Square:

On Facebook, I discover that several of my friends have received literature from Wetherspooons spouting nonsense about Brexit. There is a bit of me that is pleased that Tim Martin’s money will be wasted in Edinburgh.

Anyway, I’ve opened a bottle of red and am watching the events of the evening unfold.

Key votes will be on Yvette Cooper’s amendment to extend Article 50 for 9 months and Graham Brady’s to find some unicorns to patrol the Irish border.

It’s going to be a long night evening of votes – but there is some hope at the end. Layla Moran’s bill to repeal the Vagrancy Act will be debated when it’s all over.

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