16 January 2019 – today’s press release

Cable: Either Corbyn backs Brexit or he backs the people Responding to the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s vote of no confidence in the Conservative Government by 325 votes to 306 votes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party cannot procrastinate any longer. Either he backs Brexit or he […]

Cable: Either Corbyn backs Brexit or he backs the people

Responding to the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s vote of no confidence in the Conservative Government by 325 votes to 306 votes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party cannot procrastinate any longer. Either he backs Brexit or he backs the people.

He has a responsibility, to get off the fence and provide some effective opposition.

The only serious option is what the Liberal Democrats have been calling for since the 24th June 2016, a people’s vote with the option to remain in the EU.

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 want a People’s Vote to stop Brexit. Corbyn can’t say what Labour would do

The Sunday morning political programmes can be summarised as follows: Tory psychodrama (Sophy Ridge had three rounds of it), Labour obfuscation and Lib Dem consistency and clarity. Just imagine that you were the Leader of the Opposition. You’re supposed to be showing leadership on the most important issue of most of our lifetimes. You talk […]

The Sunday morning political programmes can be summarised as follows: Tory psychodrama (Sophy Ridge had three rounds of it), Labour obfuscation and Lib Dem consistency and clarity.

Just imagine that you were the Leader of the Opposition. You’re supposed to be showing leadership on the most important issue of most of our lifetimes. You talk about how you want a General Election, though you haven’t actually bothered to do anything to make one happen.

Then you’re asked what your policy in that General Election would be on the said major issue. Surely to goodness you would have something to tell people. You wouldn’t go on about how it still had to be decided by some party meeting. Surely you would have done that preparatory work already.  I mean, you’ve been going on about this General Election for months.

At least, if you wanted to show that you had even basic competence to run the country, you would be able to say where your party stood. If your policy was coming from principle and value, it would be instinctive.

Unfortunately, you don’t have to imagine any of this. It’s actually happening. The two paragraphs above is pretty much what Corbyn said on Marr this morning. And it’s pretty much what Rebecca Long-Bailey said on Sophy Ridge.

Corbyn did say, though, that if there was no General Election, he’d prefer a Brexit deal to a People’s Vote. He thinks he can go back to the EU and get what are essentially terms of full membership without being members. He said he wanted a customs union that enabled us to have a say in trade deals. And a unicorn that poos glittery rainbows. He didn’t say that last bit, but he might as well have done.

No wonder that Tom Brake tweeted:

Compare and contrast with a brilliant interview from Vince. He was incredibly clear and consistent.

  • Lib Dems want a People’s Vote because we oppose Brexit
  • Lib Dems oppose a Norway style compromise because we’d have all the expenses of EU membership but none of the say on policy
  • Cross-party working is happening and essential not just now but after this is all over to bring country together

He also highlighted the YouGov poll that stated that if Labour enabled Brexit, their support would plummet and ours would rise to a point that we would overtake them.

 

 

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

A second referendum would be an affront to our democracy, pure and simple

Surprise, surprise, the People’s Vote campaign is funded and supported by organisations who are actively campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union. Who is shocked? No one should be. Recent Sunday Telegraph analysis has shown that eight out of nine ‘constituent groups’ who are backing the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ (second referendum) campaign also […]

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Surprise, surprise, the People’s Vote campaign is funded and supported by organisations who are actively campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union. Who is shocked? No one should be.

Recent Sunday Telegraph analysis has shown that eight out of nine ‘constituent groups’ who are backing the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ (second referendum) campaign also support remaining in the EU. This includes constituent organisations such as ‘For Our Future’s Sake’ and European Movement UK. The former group’s byline is in fact ‘a group of students and young people across the UK, working together to Stop Brexit.’ There is very little ambiguity surrounding what these people want. Some even, like ‘Scientists for the EU,’ were set up during the 2016 referendum campaign with the sole purpose of campaigning for a Remain outcome. Hardly representative of the views of the British people. Nor something which should influence the policy of political parties which claim to represent a vast proportion of the British population.

From the Labour Party’s perspective, which throughout history has been a stalwart for the principles of democracy and equality, a second referendum promoted almost exclusively by those who support Remain, would be an affront to our history and our democracy. Jeremy Corbyn, who has long resisted the calls within the party for a second referendum, must not merely act passively. The leadership must avoid being defensive against another vote, and put forward a positive vision of why a Brexit in the interests of workers, equality and nationalised industry could be transformative for the country. Why view Brexit as a necessary evil, when it could be an opportunity to enact all which the Labour Party represents?

So how can a ‘People’s Vote’ be seen as a genuine desire for more democracy in the UK, when those supporting it are openly supportive of undermining the last vote?

The People’s Vote campaign is transparent in its desire to undermine the democratic vote of 2016, and yet there seems to be ambiguity in the way it is portrayed. Why is the organisation being shown to be neutral in its desire for a re-run of the 2016 vote, when those who support it solely support one side: Remain. Arguably this is less of a passive misinterpretation of the aims of the People’s Vote campaign by the media, but an active misinterpretation. There is a desire by those in the political elite to thwart the 2016 referendum, and a second referendum would do just that.

If the People’s Vote campaign were proposing a second referendum with a range of Brexit ‘styles’ for which to vote, that would be a less objectionable position. But to have a referendum with the option to Remain on the ballot paper, which is proposed, would wholly undermine the faith of the British people in their political system. That decision has been made, remaining in the EU was rejected, it was a ‘once in a generation’ vote – and before any different question could be asked, the will of the people should be enacted.

Let us not forget that it is not like the EU has remained stagnant since the 2016 referendum. We would not be remaining in an institution identical to that of two and a half years ago. Significant, ominous changes have occurred. One only needs to look towards the rising far-right sentiment in Italy, Hungary and France. The gilets jaunes protests in France are a sore sight in the history of the continent – with images of tanks facing down the protests, with the EU flag plastered across them. The friendly face of the EU, which has so readily been portrayed to us, is slowing peeling away.

Dark, anti-democratic forces are working beneath our eyes, and we should not continue in our complacency. Sugar-coated images and descriptions are seeping into the public and media discourse of a second referendum, and we cannot allow this to happen. Images of champagne socialist, hemp-wearing, parent-funded students standing with placards saying: ‘Old people stole my future’ should not sway us from the illegitimate notion of a ‘People’s Vote’. A second referendum would be an affront to our democracy, and that should be central to all discussion on the matter.

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If the EU can’t offer May a fudge now, the responsibility for a no-deal departure is theirs

According to TS Eliot, April is the cruellest month. In 2019 January, February and March are going to run it pretty close. The outcome is as unpredictable as Trump’s mental processes. Unlike the pundittieri I’ve got neither crystal balls nor a God-given ability to predict the future. Fortunately, also unlike them, I’m not driven by […]

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According to TS Eliot, April is the cruellest month. In 2019 January, February and March are going to run it pretty close. The outcome is as unpredictable as Trump’s mental processes. Unlike the pundittieri I’ve got neither crystal balls nor a God-given ability to predict the future. Fortunately, also unlike them, I’m not driven by a hard instinct and can admit errors. So let me make a few guesses.

The pundits themselves, their house journal The Guardian and their think-tanks in Treasury and the Bank will go into a euro-enthusiastic frenzy, predicting immediate disaster if we Leave, or a dragged-out version of it if we accept Theresa May’s application for colonial status. They’ll hold out the prospect of eternal bliss, prosperity and rallying the world against Trump, Putin and even Kim Jong Un if we stay.

Theresa will beg for a pretty (but unbankable) promise from the EU not to be too beastly and, if she can get it, permission for small dogs to enter the EU without a photographic passport taken by a French photographer. Her task now is to persuade enough Brexiteers that hers is the best deal any human being could possibly get while claiming that the EU may eventually be released from the tagged probation if we behave nicely. She hopes that this will get enough people to vote for her Brexit Postponement Bill.

The Labour Party will continue to fall apart. Corbyn will claim that cochons will fly under a Labour government. Meanwhile the bulk of his party will shuffle off to the soft option of a People’s Vote which will both allow them to creep back into Europe and ensure that Corbyn won’t be able to implement any of his radical plans.

The rampant Remainers will continue their collusion with Brussels. The Tony Blair Foundation will provide winter clothing for more parliamentary flag-wavers. The master propagandists, Campbell and Adonis, will promote a Remainer People’s Vote while prophesying doom, disaster and bubonic plague if we crash, crawl, eject or stagger out.

As for the great British public, they won’t revolt like the gilets jaunes. Stoicism is the British rebellion, not riots. Yet they are becoming fed up and alienated as they realise that their political leaders are not only incapable of delivering what the people voted for, but totally incompetent – having done little except blame the people for their vote while allowing clever EU bastards to humiliate them.

In short, it’s totally unpredictable but certain to be a mess. However, I can say what should happen.

If Theresa’s sell out doesn’t get through Parliament, there can’t be another referendum because there’s nothing to vote on. Remainers will generate a frenzy of fear about a no-deal departure, though that can come only if the Government gives up. So the Government must resume negotiations with new proposals.

The EU has constantly claimed that they want positive proposals from Britain. Make them. Make them stronger. Demand an extension of the two years to negotiate them. The EU will bluster and try to refuse it on the grounds that they’ve made their best offer. They haven’t. The Government can’t get it through Parliament. So it lapses.

The EU have already indicated that they’ll allow an extension to conduct a referendum. That’s impossible until we have a deal Parliament can accept. Which puts the ball back in their court. If they won’t offer one, they damage themselves when their economy is already doing badly. In the face of the world trend to freer trade and facing failure with the euro, they won’t dare to humiliate us.

Fudges end every argument in the EU. If they can’t manage one now, the responsibility for a no-deal departure is theirs. Forcing it will rally the British public to it and the necessary concomitant measures to support industry and expand the economy. It’s certainly better than limping into humiliation because the Government has no guts and Remainers have reduced a proud nation to gibbering with fear at the prospect of quitting a leaking hulk to join a prospering world.

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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.

My take on Channel 4’s Brexit: The Uncivil War

When I, as a Brexiteer, heard that Channel Four had commissioned a film about the EU referendum campaign, my heart sank: this was surely going to be an account designed to appeal to the Remain-voting liberal, metropolitan elite. But when I heard that it had been written by James Graham – whose excellent This House […]

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When I, as a Brexiteer, heard that Channel Four had commissioned a film about the EU referendum campaign, my heart sank: this was surely going to be an account designed to appeal to the Remain-voting liberal, metropolitan elite.

But when I heard that it had been written by James Graham – whose excellent This House about how the 1970s Labour Government clinged to power I had seen at the Garrick Theatre in 2016 – I held out some hope that it would be a fair and reasonable representation of events.

The result – Brexit: The Uncivil War (which airs on Channel Four tonight, Monday 7th January at 9pm) – was certainly based on considerable research by Graham into the events of the campaign and by the actors into the protagonists they are playing; and it draws heavily on the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman’s authoritative All Out War as well as Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit, the memoir of David Cameron’s former spin doctor, Sir Craig Oliver.

But if the film does end up confirming the prejudices of the anti-Brexit #FBPE crowd, it is by virtue of what it doesn’t cover as much as what it does.

Graham has revealed, for example, that the initial draft of the script included David Cameron and George Osborne as characters; that would have opened up the possibility of including scenes which would have helped to expose how the Remain side exploited government resources, the Whitehall machine and taxpayers’ money to the tune of millions to skew the vote in their favour and promote their Project Fear narrative.

But those characters were dropped and the focus is instead far more on the work of the non-politicians at the helm of the campaigns: by far most extensively the victorious Vote Leave campaign, but also the official Stronger In campaign and Arron Banks’ renegade Leave.EU outfit.

The film reminds us that Vote Leave was established by Matthew Elliott (full disclosure: he is of course our Editor-at-Large) and John Heffernan portrays how his calm but constant presence as CEO kept the show on the road during what would be at times a very bumpy ride (and alas the script fails to give a nod to his vital prior experience in running the successful 2011 No2AV national referendum campaign and Business for Britain as a precursor to Vote Leave).

It is, however, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Dominic Cummings – the Vote Leave Campaign Director – on which the film focuses more than anything. Cummings doesn’t especially care for politicians of any hue – and they don’t care for him either – and that clash is shown as central to his running an insurgency against the establishment. He is shown to hold in contempt even most of the politicians backing the Leave campaign in some notably tense scenes.

The intensity of Cummings’ mission comes through as his campaign theme morphs from “Take Control” to “Take Back Control” and his disregard for politicians and their traditional campaign methods leads him to expend considerable energy and money on state-of-the-art technology to identify potential Leave voters and persuade them of the case with targeted online advertising.

This is doubtless where the recalcitrant Remainers will cry foul and claim that it vindicates all manner of conspiracy theories, but what the film fails to make clear is that the Remain campaign had an equally ambitious (though ultimately less successful) digital operation of their own. It was run by Jim Messina, who had overseen the micro-targeting of voters for Barack Obama, yet for some reason while the campaign methods he embraced for the former US President were viewed as a positively ‘groundbreaking’ or ‘revolutionary’ development, when they were aped by Brexiteers even more successfully here, they are somehow deemed to be dubious or inappropriate.    

And while the internal divisions within the Leave camp are on full display, we only get a relatively brief glimpse of the chaos and tensions within the Remain camp: there is, however, one glorious scene featuring a conference call (taking place while Oliver, played by Rory Kinnear, is attempting to dish up dinner to his children) in which its leading lights complain about Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to throw his full weight behind their efforts and Downing Street’s failure to sanction “blue on blue” attacks on Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Johnson and Gove are portrayed on screen, although without any substantial scenes, while Vote Leave Chair Gisela Stuart’s appearances are even more fleeting. As I noted above, the politicians are not the focus of the film, so there are some key players whose efforts go unrecognised as most of the leading political figures are instead shown through occasional video montages of genuine TV footage from the campaign trail.

The depiction of events covered is for the most part, I think, extremely historically accurate (although pedants will point out that Gisela Stuart was not in London but in Manchester with Matthew Elliott on referendum night); the one definite concession to artistic licence is when Cummings and Oliver go for a drink on the eve of the vote to mull over the campaign.

But while the resulting dramatic spectacle is extremely well executed, I can’t help feeling that the inevitably selective focus required for a TV film lasting barely 90 minutes has resulted in significant aspects of the story being left untold.

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Michael Fabricant: It’s high time for us to rediscover our gung-ho spirit

Here in America, those I meet are surprised by Britain’s reluctance to let go of the apron strings that seem to tie us to the EU.

Michael Fabricant is MP for Lichfield.

One of the many old jokes in the Carry On films is: “where is all your get up and go?” The answer comes: “it got up and went.” It seems, sometimes, that half the population feels that way, when I read some of the more depressing letters and articles about Brexit in the national press.

I travel to the United States three or four times each year – not for fact-finding at taxpayer’s expense, I hastily add – but with and to see friends. I was part-educated at the University of Southern California (Go Trojans!) and still have a home on the east coast near where my business had a base in New Haven, Connecticut. So before I became an MP I travelled a lot to the US on business, too.

I’m there right now – in San Diego, southern California. But thanks to the internet, I was able to hear Woody Johnson, the US Ambassador to the UK, on the Today programme yesterday. He was clear that the present terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration will prevent the US (or any other major economy, come to that) from entering into a Free Trade Agreement with the UK.

But the main issue expressed by Johnson – and Americans that I meet over here – is the surprise at Britain’s reluctance to let go of the apron strings that seem to tie us to the EU.

It’s a lack of self-confidence that might be appropriate in a developing country, but in not the fifth-largest world economy, which can boast more Nobel Prize winners than any other country apart from the US; intelligence services which match those anywhere in the world, three of the world’s top ten universities, with the top two places being British, and a major centre for biotech and space research. Why are we so timid in our dealings with Europe?

In Prime Minister’s Questions a few weeks’ back, Jeremy Corbyn claimed that the UK has “no leverage” with the EU.  No leverage? We are the biggest export market in the world for the German automotive industry – bigger than the US and Chinese markets combined. And Emmanuel Macron knows that the ranks of the gilets jaunes would be increased tenfold if French farmers could not export to their number one market – the United Kingdom.

So why all this timidity by government and civil servants in dealing with the EU, and the fear of leaving the EU by so many in the British population at large?

Friends of mine working in the City for large American banks admit that they explored the possibility of moving to Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt after the referendum. But they soon realised that continental Europeans neither have the financial work pool nor the work ethic to keep long hours deep into the night when the need arises. Those plans to move were soon abandoned.

Johnson can see the opportunities open to the UK in leaving the UK and from being unshackled from the ball and chain of rules so beloved of European regulators. My American friends over here say to me “Why are you guys so lacking in self-confidence? We just don’t get it. Just leave!”

Having been in business and travelled abroad extensively exporting broadcasting systems to some 48 countries worldwide, I can see the huge opportunities that will be open to us after a clean break with the EU.

It is unfortunate that many commentators on Brexit, including journalists and some politicians, never had the get up and go in the first place. The gung-ho spirit eludes them. We should not allow their lack of aspiration and gloom to frustrate the opportunities that are there if only we have the confidence to seize them.

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.