14 February 2019 – today’s press releases

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

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

Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say

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

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

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9-10 February 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

It may be that Parliament is at a bit of a loose end whilst the Government argue amongst themselves over Brexit, but that isn’t to say that there is much for Liberal Democrats to be stirred by… Government ferry plan hits the rocks UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal […]

It may be that Parliament is at a bit of a loose end whilst the Government argue amongst themselves over Brexit, but that isn’t to say that there is much for Liberal Democrats to be stirred by…

  • Government ferry plan hits the rocks
  • UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal Brexit
  • No specific funding for NHS in no deal scenario
  • Stone: Immigration rules for Commonwealth soldiers are outrageous
  • Cable: PM’s meaningful vote timeline irresponsible and insulting to parliament
  • UK must support Turkey’s stand on Uyghur crisis – Carmichael

Government ferry plan hits the rocks

Responding to news that the Government has scrapped its contract with Seaborne Freight Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Government did not need a siren’s call to get into chaos over a contract with a ferry company, all they needed was to put Chris Grayling in charge.

This Government has now had to fire their ferry company with no ferries, as we drift closer and closer to no deal.

The Conservatives have failed to plan for Brexit and are steering this country to disaster. They must take no deal off the table and then offer the country a people’s vote so we can get out of this mess once and for all.

UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal Brexit

The Liberal Democrats have pushed the Conservative Government to admit that Ministers have not secured any bilateral health agreements with EU member states in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In a response to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, Health Minister Stephen Hammond MP could not confirm any agreements have been made to ensure British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK would have the same access to medical cover.

Mr Hammond could only confirm that the UK and Irish Governments have “firm intentions to maintain the Common Travel Area and to protect the associated reciprocal rights”.

The revelation will add further woes to UK citizens intending to travel across the EU this summer after a a Liberal Democrat mystery shopper exercise recently uncovered several leading travel agents were unable to guarantee cover in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

In a no-deal scenario, it is now disturbingly likely that UK citizens will have no medical cover in most, if not all, of the EU countries.

With many people already having booked travel to the EU for after 29th March, we need urgent clarification from the Government of what action UK travellers need to take, including whether they should be taking out expensive travel insurance.

This is particularly worrying as most of the large travel insurance firms are not able to confirm whether their insurance will be valid in the case of no-deal.

Conservative Ministers do not need to hold British travellers at ransom. They can instead take no-deal off the table and give the public the final say with a People’s Vote so that we can get out of this mess once and for all.

No specific funding for NHS in no deal scenario

The Conservative Government has refused to reveal how much funding it is allocating to keep the National Health Service running in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Although the Department of Health and Social Care has been allocated £71 million by the Treasury to prepare for Brexit, in an answer to a written PQ it said it was “unable to provide a breakdown of the amount of funding allocated to ‘no deal’ preparations specifically”.

Of the 18 Government departments questioned on their no-deal spending in written PQs tabled by Vince Cable, just one – the Department for Transport – provided a specific figure.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Matt Hancock has been boasting about being the world’s biggest buyer of fridges, yet his department doesn’t even appear to know how much it is spending on preparing for a no-deal Brexit. The Government needs to come clear with taxpayers on which particular Brexit blackholes it is pouring their money down.

Shockingly, only one department is actually aware of what it is spending to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. This suggests the government is either trying to scare the public and MPs about the dangers of a no-deal it doesn’t expect to happen, or it is totally incompetent.

Stone: Immigration rules for Commonwealth soldiers are outrageous

Hundreds of troops who joined the British Army after a targeted Commonwealth recruitment drive in 2016 are having to work second jobs in order to meet the Home Office threshold necessary to relocate their families.

Commenting Jamie Stone, Lib Dem Defence Spokesperson said:

This is yet another example of the Tory’s botched immigration policies. These soldiers were asked specifically to come and defend our nation and the government repays them with a hostile environment. It has all the hallmarks of the policies which caused the Windrush crisis.

These people have responded to a call to serve the country and it is outrageous that immigration thresholds mean they must work second jobs just to bring their spouses and children with them.

The Liberal Democrats demand better, Commonwealth soldiers who have been asked to come and serve must be welcomed into UK society.

Cable: PM’s meaningful vote timeline irresponsible and insulting to parliament

Responding to the news that the PM will seek to wait until the end of the month for a second attempt at winning the meaningful vote, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

This is worse than irresponsible.

It is deeply insulting to the country and to Parliament. It goes against what she has been mandated to achieve. I would not be surprised if she faces a massive rebellion by Conservative MPs.

UK must support Turkey’s stand on Uyghur crisis – Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has today called on the Foreign Secretary to support Turkey’s stance on the Chinese Human Rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Mr Carmichael responded to comments made by the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy, that it is for the international community “to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang region.”

Commenting, Mr. Carmichael said:

Turkey is right to stand up to the barbaric practices China is using to oppress the Uyghur people of Xinjiang. The Foreign Secretary must support them, and use our position as permanent members of the Security Council and prominent defenders of human rights to support Turkey’s calls, and deliver meaningful action.

Many nations have been scared into refusing to engage with this crisis because of Chinese economic pressure, so it is quite brave of Turkey to stand up and do the right thing. The UK must not silently acquiesce to these rampant human rights abuses either.

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.

7 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Ghost Trains Add to GWR Chaos – Welsh Lib Dems Davey: Govt needs to stop hitting people with higher energy bills Vince Cable announces changes to top team Lib Dem International Trade spokesperson slams Liam Fox for misleading House Ghost Trains Add to GWR Chaos – Welsh Lib Dems The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised […]

  • Ghost Trains Add to GWR Chaos – Welsh Lib Dems
  • Davey: Govt needs to stop hitting people with higher energy bills
  • Vince Cable announces changes to top team
  • Lib Dem International Trade spokesperson slams Liam Fox for misleading House

Ghost Trains Add to GWR Chaos – Welsh Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised Great Western Railway (GWR) for ‘ghost trains’ after trains after 21:00 between London Paddington and Swansea for Monday to Thursday next week (11th-14th) disappeared from the timetable.

The tickets have been removed from the timetable so passengers are unable to buy them but the trains don’t appear as cancellations on GWR’s disruption information online.

This means the trains aren’t technically recorded as cancellations in GWR’s reporting to the Department for Transport (DfT) and so GWR aren’t penalised for it. However, not giving out passenger information is a breach of Rail Delivery Group (RDG) guidelines on passenger information during disruption.

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Baroness Randerson said:

The lack of publicity about this stealthy change to the late evening timetable could mean many regular travellers who don’t book specific trains could turn up at the station to find there is no train home that night.

These ghost trains are the latest in a long list of failures in recent years by GWR. Just days ago GWR was criticised in Parliament for ‘delays, overcrowding and ticket costs.’ Now we find out trains have been removed from timetables without telling anyone. This simply isn’t good enough.

Given GWR’s passenger satisfaction levels are the worst they’ve been in more than a decade, we’d expect GWR to be pulling out all the stops to improve services and keep passengers happy. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case. I call on GWR to urgently act to improve their passengers’ experience.

Earlier this week Assembly Members voted to call for the devolution of more powers and funding for rail to ‘deliver the railway the people of Wales deserve.’ We welcome the Assembly’s calls and urge the UK Government to devolve these powers at the earliest opportunity.

Davey: Govt needs to stop hitting people with higher energy bills

Responding to reports that more than half of households are set to see an increase in energy costs with Ofgem raising price caps, former Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

The Conservatives introduced the price cap claiming it would save people money. But it was never going to do so, and it was inevitable that they would instead have to put the cap up at some point.

Now the truth on the price cap is clearer to people, the Government needs to stop hitting people with higher energy bills thanks to their policies.

Competition in the energy market is under threat due to this cap. Yet it is precisely that competition which has helped many more consumers reduce their energy bills than the cap.

Liberal Democrats believe people deserve better. We would take meaningful steps to promote more competition as the most effective way to slash energy bills, and we would roll out an energy efficiency programme to reduce energy bills for those in fuel poverty.

Vince Cable announces changes to top team

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has announced several changes to his top team of spokespeople.

Former leader Tim Farron will be taking over the Communities and Local Government spokesperson role, with Bath MP Wera Hobhouse moving to cover Energy and Climate Change.

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine will now cover issues relating to Work and Pensions, with Jamie Stone taking on the Scotland brief. Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael will speak on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Commenting on the changes to the Liberal Democrat spokespeople, Vince Cable said:

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

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

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

Lib Dem International Trade spokesperson slams Liam Fox for misleading House

Following an exchange at International Trade questions today, during which Tom Brake sought assurances from the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, that he would provide Parliamentarians with a progress report on the trade deals the UK wants to roll over – a report Fox has already provided to key businesses – Tom has accused Fox of misleading MPs.

Tom explained in a later Point of Order to the Deputy Speaker, that contrary to Liam Fox’s assertion that he had dealt with this issue ‘extensively’ in the International Trade Select Committee hearing the day before, Tom, having viewed the hour long session, could confirm that the Secretary of State had provided no guarantees about making this progress report available. Indeed no reference was made to this progress report at all.

Tom Brake said:

It is clear that to save his embarrassment for the shocking lack of progress in rolling over these trade deals, Liam Fox has concocted a sham story about having dealt with the matter yesterday.

He is clearly one of the people Donald Tusk had in mind when he referred to Brexiters who promoted Brexit, with no plan for delivering it!

Tom added,

This could be another case of a Government in contempt, by providing information to third parties, but refusing to provide it to MPs.

In his Point of Order, Tom asked the Speaker how he could get the Secretary of State to correct the record and, more importantly, provide the information he was happy to share with business with Parliamentarians.

Tom has raised this issue with Ministers on a number of occasions, most recently in a letter dated 28th January 2019 (below).

6 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis Lib Dems: 50 days until Brexit cliff-edge Greg Clark’s warning exposes recklessness of Tory Govt Lib Dems: Govt must investigate civil service support for Tory meetings Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt […]

  • Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis
  • Lib Dems: 50 days until Brexit cliff-edge
  • Greg Clark’s warning exposes recklessness of Tory Govt
  • Lib Dems: Govt must investigate civil service support for Tory meetings
  • Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime

Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis

Responding to the research by Age UK showing that more than 50,000 older people have now died waiting in vain for care during the 700 days since the Government first said it would publish a Social Care Green Paper, Former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

These figures are tragic for many families and the stories of some of those who have been impacted should give many in government and across politics pause for thought.

People are turning for help in their old age and help is not there. Despite the crisis in adult social care the Conservatives are consistently and consciously underfunding these services and the social care green paper promised in March 2017 has now been delayed six times.

The Conservative Government is incapable of solving this problem themselves. They must now work with other parties to achieve a genuine long term, sustainable settlement for the NHS and social care.

Liberal Democrats would put a penny on income tax and directly invest funds in social care. We will also keep making the case for a new, dedicated NHS and care tax to guarantee a modern, effective and efficient NHS and care system which will be there for our loved ones when they need it.

Lib Dems: 50 days until Brexit cliff-edge

With just 50 days to go until exit day, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP has laid a Private Members Bill to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.

Commenting on the Bill, Mr Brake said:

With just 50 days to go it is irresponsible that the Conservative Government have failed to rule out crashing out of the EU. The Tories have made a mess of Brexit and are as far away from agreement within their own party as ever.

It is time to stop this mess and move the UK away from the cliff edge. The only way forward now is a People’s Vote.

That is why the Liberal Democrats have tabled this Bill to extend Article 50 and give the people the final say on May’s deal, with the option to stay in the EU.

Greg Clark’s warning exposes recklessness of Tory Govt

Responding on Greg Clark’s appearance before the BEIS Select Committee, in which the Secretary of State said the effective Brexit deadline for exporters was within “the next couple of weeks”, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Greg Clark’s warning exposes the recklessness of this government’s strategy of gambling on an unlikely last-minute breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations.

UK companies exporting competitively to the rest of the world thanks to EU-negotiated free trade agreements are now facing a hit to their business long before March 29th, notwithstanding the uncertainty they have already faced. Businesses and workers are paying the price of No deal already.

This is yet another example of the damage Brexit will inflict on our economy. It is time the people were given the opportunity to avoid all this chaos through a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems: Govt must investigate civil service support for Tory meetings

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake have today written to the Head of the Civil Service urging him to investigate allegations that civil servants are assisting with the so-called Malthouse Compromise working group.

This working group of Conservative MPs has been meeting with officials in the Cabinet Office. Given the group are not members of the Government, the Liberal Democrats believe the provision of civil service support breaches rules and raises questions for the Prime Minister to answer.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Civil Service should not be spending time on a Tory party peace initiative which has no relevance to our negotiations with the EU and which is undeliverable.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake added:

If Ministers have been instructing civil servants to assist Jacob Rees Mogg and Nicky Morgan in their quest to find a unicorn, that can piece the Tory party back together again, this would be a flagrant breach of Ministerial rules.

Any costs associated with such a naked party political stunt would have to be reimbursed to taxpayers and instructions issued to all Ministers to refrain from abusing civil service resources in this way.

Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime

The Liberal Democrats have forced the Conservative Government to withdraw their amendments on controversial knife crime prevention orders.

Following the Home Secretary’s announcement last week of his intention to introduce ‘asbo style’ prevention orders, the Government intended to today amend the Offensive Weapons Bill at the House of Lords Grand Committee.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson in the House of Lords, Brian Paddick, threatened to oppose these amendments forcing the Government to withdraw them due to the need at Grand Committee for unanimity.

Responding to the withdrawal, Brian Paddick said:

ASBOs were jettisoned because they unnecessarily criminalised young people, were seen as a badge of honour in some communities and did little to prevent crime, but now the Conservatives want to resurrect them under a new guise.

The Liberal Democrats are wholly opposed to Knife Crime Prevention Orders being imposed on children as young as 12 who haven’t been convicted of any crimes, where a minor breach can result in a criminal record and a prison sentence.

There are not enough community police officers to patrol our streets, let alone enforce these orders. Instead of gimmicks that won’t work, the Government must urgently give forces the funding they need to restore community police and stop the rise of violent crime.

2-3 February 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

Cavity appearing in NHS dental workforce Product safety symbol another Brexit hit for businesses Nuclear treaty withdrawal risks global instability Cable: Nissan decision symbolises the loss of confidence in the UK Cavity appearing in NHS dental workforce Responding to the reports that 1 in 4 new patients not currently on the books with an NHS […]

  • Cavity appearing in NHS dental workforce
  • Product safety symbol another Brexit hit for businesses
  • Nuclear treaty withdrawal risks global instability
  • Cable: Nissan decision symbolises the loss of confidence in the UK

Cavity appearing in NHS dental workforce

Responding to the reports that 1 in 4 new patients not currently on the books with an NHS dentist have tried and failed to secure an appointment due to recruitment problems, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

This statistic is appalling and should be to Matt Hancock and those in the Conservative Government. As we see more and more dentists leave the NHS, it is clear that it is part of the wider NHS struggles to hire and retain staff.

One of the key problems with the NHS ten year plan was that it was completely undermined by a lack of serious workforce planning. The failure of the Tories to tackle the problems in recruitment and retention, in dentistry and across health professionals, is frankly unacceptable. Especially, considering over 26,000 children aged 5 to 9 were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay in 2017-18.

It is clear the Tories are letting people down and Liberal Democrats demand better. That is why the Liberal Democrats would produce a national workforce strategy so we would never again see the shortages in dentists we are experiencing today.

Product safety symbol another Brexit hit for businesses

Responding to reports that the Government has drawn up plans to make companies change their packaging, advertising and products to replace the CE safety symbol in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Brexit has lost the Conservatives the right to claim they are the party of business. If we needed more evidence they didn’t care, then here we are. It is within Theresa May’s power to take no deal off the table, she is simply using it as an option to frighten people into supporting her already defeated deal.

However, Liberal Democrats are clear any Brexit will be damaging for business and result in a loss of jobs. The only way out of this mess is a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Nuclear treaty withdrawal risks global instability

Responding to reports that Russia has suspended its involvement in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, following the United States’ decision to also suspend their involvement yesterday evening, former Liberal Democrat Leader Lord Campbell said:

These developments are both alarming and depressing. Gradually piece by piece the security architecture which followed the end of the Cold War has been destroyed.

The world is a much less safe place with nuclear weapons when they cease to be the subject of treaties and agreements. Although both Putin and Trump deny it, there is a severe and continuing risk of a nuclear arms race which will bring instability throughout the world.

Cable: Nissan decision symbolises the loss of confidence in the UK

Responding to reports that Nissan is expected to announce that it is cancelling a planned investment at its Sunderland plant, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Conservatives have lost the right to call themselves the party of business. If these reports are true, the extent to which the Government have destroyed businesses’ confidence in the UK is clear.

This is a massively significant decision which has largely been driven by Brexit. Nissan has been a big British success story based on confidence in the United Kingdom. This decision is just as symbolic as it is important.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that the only way to give business the certainty they need and get the country out of this chaos is to offer a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

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

1 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Tories failing to act on modern slavery in car washes Lib Dems: Nobody should take lectures from Liam Fox Landmark conviction in fight to stamp out FGM Tories leading us to a Brexit wasteland Tories failing to act on modern slavery in car washes The Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to tackle modern […]

  • Tories failing to act on modern slavery in car washes
  • Lib Dems: Nobody should take lectures from Liam Fox
  • Landmark conviction in fight to stamp out FGM
  • Tories leading us to a Brexit wasteland

Tories failing to act on modern slavery in car washes

The Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to tackle modern slavery in hand car washes after Conservative Ministers rejected a licensing scheme in their response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Commission.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Yet again the Tories are failing to take the necessary action to tackle modern slavery, even though Theresa May once called it ‘the great human rights issue of our time’.

Both a committee of MPs and the Government’s own Director of Labour Market Enforcement have called for a trial licensing scheme to prevent car washes exploiting vulnerable people. Conservative Ministers, however, have decided to ignore them. Instead they are leaving it up to the public to choose ‘responsible’ businesses on the basis of a kitemark.

The victims of human trafficking and modern slavery deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must urgently give the anti-slavery authorities the powers and resources they need to inspect car washes and enforce the law.

Lib Dems: Nobody should take lectures from Liam Fox

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake has warned “nobody should take lectures from Liam Fox” ahead of the International Trade Secretary’s speech on reform of the World Trade Organization.

The Liberal Democrat MP branded Liam Fox “hopeless”, given the admission that the UK has yet to finalise agreements to replace nearly every one of the EU existing free trade deals. The EU has nearly 40 trade deals which the UK will need to ‘roll over’ by the 29th March to cope with a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Mr Brake has also called for the International Trade Secretary’s Department to be abolished as the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement, should it pass, leaves Mr Fox’s department with no powers to create its own trade agreements for the foreseeable future.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Fox has clocked up more air miles than the Apollo Lunar module, but has barely a single new trade deal to show for it. May’s deal means he won’t in the future either.

Fox has become an irresponsible embarrassment. Nobody should take lectures from him. It is time Fox was given his P45 and his Department abolished.

Even many Brexiters now admit that Brexit will leave us all poorer. Liberal Democrats demand better. The only serious option left on the table is a people’s vote, with the option to stay in the EU.

Landmark conviction in fight to stamp out FGM

Responding to the reports of the first conviction of female genital mutilation in the UK, former Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

We have waited a long time to see a conviction for female genital mutilation. The victim here was just three years old. There is no doubt that this is child abuse and this prosecution makes clear this practice is against the law.

I welcome this prosecution and hope to see other perpetrators of this vile crime brought to justice. Communities in the U.K. will now know that if they commit FGM they will be brought before the courts.

Prosecution is crucially important, but it is vital that the Government work to support those working in the communities to stamp out FGM, ensuring no future generations of girls suffer this crime.

Tories leading us to a Brexit wasteland

Responding to reports that Government officials are preparing to deal with stockpiles of rubbish in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

How many reports of stockpiling and wasteful no deal preparations must we be subject to until the Tory Government agree to take no deal off the table?

The only reason no deal remains an option is because the Prime Minister wants to frighten people into supporting her deal, despite the fact it has already been thoroughly defeated. It is completely within the gift of the Government to rule out no deal as an option.

Rather than irresponsibly running down the clock, Theresa May should be supporting the only viable route out of this chaos which is a peoples’ vote, with the option of remaining in the EU.

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

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.

29 January 2019 – today’s press releases

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

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

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

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

Lib Dems: Safe standing an important opportunity for football fans

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

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

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

Travel insurance not guaranteed with no-deal Brexit

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

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

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

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

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moran: Time to scrap cruel Vagrancy Act

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

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

Commenting ahead of the debate, Layla Moran said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Brake: Lavery’s comments show Labour figures still ignoring party members Responding to Ian Lavery’s comments that a People’s Vote would be divisive, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said: I am sure many Labour voters will see these comments by their Party Chair as the real divisiveness. He side steps the fact that campaigning for […]

Brake: Lavery’s comments show Labour figures still ignoring party members

Responding to Ian Lavery’s comments that a People’s Vote would be divisive, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

I am sure many Labour voters will see these comments by their Party Chair as the real divisiveness.

He side steps the fact that campaigning for a public vote is Labour policy after last year’s conference.

Labour can either join the Conservatives and push this deeply unpopular Brexit through, or act in the interests of the country and on the wishes of their supporters and join the Liberal Democrat campaign for a People’s Vote, with an option to stay in the EU.

Davey: Appalling that Tories are willing to jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland

Responding to the concerns of Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that no-Deal Brexit could lead to border controls, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

It’s essential Theresa May puts keeping the peace in Northern Ireland above keeping the peace in the Conservative Party.

The Irish Prime Minister could not be more clear that Brexit is already posing a challenge to that hard-won peace. His warning today over the threat to the peace from a no-deal Brexit is surely the final argument Theresa May needs to take such a disastrous outcome off the table.

It’s appalling that the Brexiteer Tories are willing to jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland for the sake of their Brexit obsession.

The people of Northern Ireland deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. Theresa May must immediately rule out a no-deal Brexit and put her deal to a People’s Vote, with the option of an exit from Brexit.