Saturday, December 09, 2017

Cable: Time for all-BAME short-lists to tackle Parliament's diversity problem

Speaking at The Grand Mawlid (Peace Conference) in Birmingham today in front of an expected 4,000 audience, Vince Cable will call on the government to change the law so that all-BAME (black and minority ethnic) short-lists are allowed for selecting Parliamentary election candidates.

Under the 2010 Equality Act, political parties may field all-women or all-disabled short-lists, but the law does not allow for all-BAME short-lists.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is expected to say: 

"There remains a serious lack of diversity in Parliament.

"There are just 51 BAME MPs. Despite being a record total, they represent only 7.9% of all MPs, against 14% of the British population. There are still too few opportunities for BAME people to enter British politics at all levels.

"Parliament is supposed to set an example to the rest of society. We should be showing that we are willing to tackle issues of lack of diversity head on.

"Although advances in gender balance have been made partly through all-women short-lists, we still have this loophole that all-BAME short-lists are not allowed.

"I have written to Damian Green, the de facto deputy prime minister, calling on him to close this loophole through legislation. It is time to unify the country by giving everyone the opportunity to move up in life."
Frank Little, secretary of Aberavon and Liberal Democrats, added:
"It should be noted that Vince calls for permissive, not mandatory legislation, contrary to some media speculation earlier in the week.

"In 2016 the Lib Dems became the first party to pick a prospective parliamentary candidate from an all-disabled short-list when Stephen Lloyd was selected for Eastbourne. He regained the seat at this year's general election with a majority of 1,609 and is now the party's Spokesperson for Work & Pensions. "


Friday, December 08, 2017

How long before May's Brexit deal is torn apart by her own MPs ?

Responding to the news a Brexit deal has been agreed by Theresa May and the EU in Brussels this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

"This agreement is welcome as it reduces the risk of a catastrophic No Deal Brexit. It also includes a role for the EU Court of Justice for eight years, a notable concession.

"But how long will this deal last before it is torn apart by Theresa May's own MPs? And what will happen next, seeing as the Cabinet hasn't even discussed yet what the final Brexit outcome should look like?

"There are still two opposing views in government, those who want a close arrangement with the EU and those who want to tear apart decades of work building ties with our closest trading partner.

"And there is still no solution over how to prevent a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The biggest obstacle to the government's Brexit plans is being kicked into the long grass.

"The government is still a long way from a final deal, and even further from delivering on what the Brexiters promised. 

"At the end of this process it is the British people, not Tory MPs and the DUP, who should get to decide whether the deal is good enough."

IfG report shows absurdity of Tory red line on EU Court of Justice

The UK rarely ends up in the EU Court of Justice, and when it does it wins its cases more often than most EU countries, a new report by the Institute for Government has found today.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“This report highlights the absurdity of the Conservatives’ red line on the EU Court of Justice.

“In spite of the Tory party’s ideological obsessions, the Court has actually served Britain’s interests well over the years.

“The few cases the UK government has lost have mostly been for failing to uphold environmental protections.

“This should be a wake-up call for those Cabinet Ministers who want to rupture all ties with the EU Court no matter the cost for people’s rights, our economy and environment.”

UK border report reveals government is risking UK's future

A report from the Public Affairs Committee has warned that the UK border could be exposed from the first day of Brexit.

The report says that government assumptions about behaviour are risky and planning is too reliant on a transitional period.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who sits on the committee, said: 

“Once again we have evidence in front of us that the government are failing to prepare for Brexit.

“Mismanagement and blunder from this government is risking the future of this country. Massive new pressures to the UK border are being ignored and the whole issue is seemingly being kicked into the long grass.

“It is appalling that major issues that we know will arise from Brexit are going ignored. The people must be given a chance to escape this mess and exit from Brexit.”

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Government has done impact assessments on drains and comedy but not Brexit

The government has carried out impact assessments on policies ranging from drain standards to the use of parody in comedy yet still hasn't produced any on Brexit, Liberal Democrat research has revealed.

The Liberal Democrats slammed the government as being "quite literally beyond parody."

It comes after David Davis yesterday admitted that the 58 Brexit impact assessments he claimed his department was working never existed.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

“It's standard procedure to produce an impact assessment when bringing in new policies, on everything from comedy to sewers.

“Yet the government haven’t bothered to produce one for Brexit, an issue that will affect the future of this country for generations to come. It is quite literally beyond parody.

“The staggering incompetence ministers are showing over Brexit shows why we must give people the choice to reject the final deal and stay in the EU."

No wonder only 16 parliamentarians* accessed the Brexit papers

Farcical security

Dick Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, has complained to the government over their 'farcical' security measures for the Brexit papers.

Lord Newby has questioned whether such measures are beyond what is necessary for a document which should be made publicly available and contains no information which is sensitive.

The documents contain no assessment whatsoever by the Government of how Brexit will affect the sectors covered, and simply repeat what they’ve been told by companies in the sector.

The current security measures include:
  • Booking a time slot to view the papers
  • Getting a pass from Parliament Street
  • Being escorted to the reading room
  • Handing in your mobile phone
  • Being watched over by two DExEU officials
  • Not being allowed to view the papers outside the hours of 10-1 and 2-5 on Monday to Thursday.
Lord Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, said:

“There is absolutely no justification for the farcical restrictions being placed on parliamentarians wishing to see these documents. The arrangements seem designed to make it as difficult as possible to access them.

"As they contain no assessment of the impacts of Brexit and no sensitive material they should be made available in parliament in the same way as all other documents.

"They should also be put online so that the public can get a better understanding of the complexities and challenges of Brexit.”

(*Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom asserted today that only 16 people had accessed the government's Brexit assessments.)

Irish border: Cabinet doesn't have a clue

Following Chris Grayling’s claim that the UK does not need identical laws to the EU for Irish border trade, the Liberal Democrats accused the government of not knowing what it is doing.

Tom Brake said:

“If you listen to seven different cabinet ministers, you hear eight different opinions.

“Theresa May is being undermined at every turn by her own ministers in this incompetent government. Chris Grayling doesn't give a fig about trade in Northern Ireland - he only cares about trading blows with his own cabinet colleagues and pursuing an extreme Brexit. In talking up the possibility of a No Deal he is undermining the Chancellor and talking down British business.

“With the government making more of a mess of Brexit with every passing day, it is ever more vital that the people are given a vote on any deal Theresa May finally manages to negotiate.”


Vince Cable launches Lib Dem Business & Entrepreneurs Network

Vince Cable has launched a Liberal Democrat Business & Entrepreneurs Network (LDBEN) at an event in the City this morning, galvanising the business community amid the government’s shambolic handling of Brexit.

The network includes is made up of 80 leading figures from the business community, including angel investor Andrew Dixon and Chair of Allied Irish Banks Richard Pym.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

“Under my leadership, I will ensure the Liberal Democrats are a strong voice for business and economic common sense.

“We will provide a sound and sensible plan to protect our economy, jobs and tax revenue from Brexit.

“Labour under Corbyn are intent on bashing business, while the Tories are pursuing an extreme version Brexit that will do permanent damage to our economy.

“We will provide a natural home for businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We would build on the industrial strategy that we introduced in government, keep Britain at the heart of the single market and pursue ambitious reforms at home that will support businesses and boost growth.”

Richard Pym, Chair Allied Irish Banks plc, Co-Chair and Founder Member of LDBEN, stated: 

“The Conservatives have betrayed business with their wealth-destroying approach to Brexit.  The Labour Party scare business with their anti-capitalism rhetoric.

“In contrast the values of modern businesses are liberal values.

“Business leaders and entrepreneurs are increasingly backing the Liberal Democrats because the party is now the natural party for business.”

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Farron: David Davis must go

After David Davis was accused of misleading parliament, former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that the Brexit Secretary has to resign.

Tim Farron said:

“David Davis needs to go. He has misled parliament and under his leadership the Brexit department has turned incompetence into an art form.

“I am not one to call for ministerial resignations every two minutes and I've nothing against David Davis as a person but it is now clear he deceived MP. He is also writing the government’s Brexit strategy on the back of a fag packet.

“Some 18 months on, the government hasn’t worked out what the effects of Brexit will be or even what kind of Brexit it wants.

“Forget Brexit – we need Dexit: an exit from the duplicity and dither of David Davis.”

Two state solution could be in tatters under Trump

Responding to news that Donald Trump has recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who is the only UK MP with Palestinian background, said:

“The Prime Minister must use what remains of the special relationship to urge President Trump to reconsider his decision.

“There is now a high probability that the two state solution will be in tatters, and yet another round of violence in the region can be expected.

“Trump risks bolstering support for extremists, recklessly increasing the likelihood of an upsurge in potential new attacks in the west.”

Introduce fraud prevention league tables so we know who to trust

The Liberal Democrats have backed calls for a ‘fraud prevention league table’ for banks so consumers have a choice about where they put their money.

Currently banks do not give this data to the government, leaving both the government, and more importantly consumers, in the dark over how safe their money is.

The call is backed by a Report today from the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts titled 'The growing threat of online fraud' which warns that online fraud is now the most prevalent crime in England and Wales and that banks are not doing enough to tackle online fraud and their response has not been proportionate to the scale of the problem.

The league table proposal is similar to measures utilised by the car industry, which have found success not only in informing consumers, but also prompting the car industry to deliver improvements.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who co-led the questioning on the Committee session, said:

"Clearly people have a right to know how safe their money is. When people are saving for a better future, when they are taking home their wage packet, they need to be able to make an informed decision about how safe their savings are.

“This measure has already to make cars safer, we now need to encourage a race to the top in the banking sector.

"Online fraud is now the most prevalent crime facing people in the England and Wales, yet adequate measures are not in place to protect consumers from fraud."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Anderson terrorism report shows security services need more resources not new powers

The Anderson report has found that the Manchester Arena bomber had been a "subject of interest" and opportunities to stop him were missed.

Meanwhile London Bridge Attacker Khuram Butt was the main target of a surveillance operation - but this was suspended twice because of a lack of resources.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey commented:

“This report shows the key challenge facing our security services is not a lack of powers, but a lack of resources.

“It is the Government's responsibility to ensure our security services have the capacity to keep us safe, but instead our police have faced drastic cuts.

“Community policing is a key source of intelligence. If we want to stand the best chance of preventing future attacks, we need to invest in more police in our communities and on our streets.

"That is why the Liberal Democrats would invest an extra £300m a year into policing to help keep the country safe."

Trump Muslim ban - this is why he is not welcome, says Cable

After the Supreme Court upheld Donald Trump's ban on people entering the United States from six mostly Muslim countries, this politics of division was attacked by the Liberal Democrats.

Leader Vince Cable said: 

"This is not the signal the supposed leader of the free world should be sending out. The Muslim ban is the worst symbol of Trump’s intolerance, and we must hope this doesn’t spread even more hate at a fragile time.

“It also underlines why Liberal Democrats have told Trump that he simply is not welcome in the UK - the difference is this country won’t resort to banning him.”

Govt must freeze rail fares to prevent Brexit price hike

UK rail fares will rise by 3.4% in January, the largest increase for five years, due to rising inflation since the Brexit vote.

The cost of annual season tickets on some commuter trains has now risen above £5000. For example, Crowhurst in East Sussex to St. Pancras is now £5,130.

Commuters in Wales will also see painful price hikes. Many travel to work in Cardiff from Neath and will be hit by a £56 increase.
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to freeze fares to help hard-pressed commuters.

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson commented:

"Hard-pressed commuters are being stung with Brexit rail fare hikes as a result of soaring inflation.

“Rail passengers in Britain should not have to pay the price for government incompetence in Brussels.

“It’s time the government froze fares to help people struggling with rising costs and lower wages.

“Commuters waiting in the cold on the platform in January deserve better than paying through the nose for unreliable, overcrowded trains.”

Pharmaceutical industry warns of Brexit "nightmare scenario"

Leading figures in the pharmaceutical industry have warned that diverging from EU standards could create a "nightmare scenario" for the sector and that the fall in the pound since the Brexit vote has already made it no longer viable to produce certain medicines.

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), told the Commons Business Committee that regulatory alignment with the EU is "critical" and failure to agree mutual recognition could lead to a "nightmare scenario."

Peter Ballard, Managing Director of Xiromed, warned that the fall in the pound has already meant it is no longer viable to produce certain medicines in the UK, adding that tariffs and significant regulatory changes would do "significant" damage.

Each month the UK imports 37 million medicine packs from the EU while 45 million packs are exported from Britain to the EU, according to figures form the ABPI.

The stark warning comes as Theresa May negotiates with the DUP over the issue of regulatory alignment to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"Theresa May must listen to this clear warning from the pharmaceuticals industry.

"The cost of some medicines is already rising due to the fall in the pound since the referendum.

"This will only get worse if the government continues to bungle these negotiations and pursue the most extreme form of Brexit.

"British patients should not be made to pay the price for an incompetent Tory Brexit.

"Whether it is farming, the car industry or pharmaceuticals, the best option for all key sectors of our economy is to stay in the single market and customs union."

Monday, December 04, 2017

Social mobility board quitting is vote of no confidence in government

Responding to the news that all four members of the board of the government's Social Mobility Commission have stood down, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

"This is a serious vote of no confidence in the government's policies.

"Brexit is sucking all the life out of government so that it has no time or energy to address inequality and lack of opportunity for young people.

"Alan Milburn and his team were taken seriously by the coalition, helping to drive forward policies like the pupil premium.

"Now ministers are too preoccupied by internal infighting and Brexit to tackle social injustice."

Farage branded "shameless hypocrite" over EU pension

Nigel Farage told the Andrew Marr show on Sunday that he would take his EU pension, saying “why should my family and others suffer even more.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“Nigel Farage is a shameless hypocrite.

“He rails against the so-called EU gravy train, but is happy to cash in when it suits him.

“No doubt he also secretly backs the £50bn Brexit divorce bill that includes money to pay for his EU pension.”

Cable responds to JRF report showing rise in child and pensioner poverty

Britain is seeing the the first sustained rises in child and pensioner poverty for two decades, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's state of the nation report.

The report warns poverty rates rose last year to 16% for pensioners and 30% for children – and that welfare cuts are reducing families’ financial breathing space.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“This report sounds the death knell for Theresa May’s claim to be building a country that works for everyone.

“Instead of tackling social injustice, the government’s policies are worsening inequality and hitting the poorest in society hardest.

“The significant progress made recently in reducing child and pensioner poverty is now going into reverse, due to a growing squeeze on living standards combined with harsh welfare cuts.

“With this kind of record, it’s little surprise that those leading the government’s Social Mobility Commission have quit.

“Ministers must urgently end the freeze on working-age benefits before more children are pushed into poverty, and invest in building the affordable homes the country desperately needs.”

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Ideological obsession with hard Brexit putting 20 years of peace at risk

Commenting on the statement by t├ínaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney that Brexit talks cannot move forward until the Irish border problem is overcome, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson, said:

"Following the Tory Brexit U-turn on the divorce bill and (disputed) indications that a deal has been reached on citizens' rights, the Ireland - Northern Ireland border is now the major obstacle this government faces

"The government has failed to convince anyone that a frictionless border solution exists.  And they have ruled out the obvious answer which is remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union.

"Their ideological obsession with a hard Brexit is putting twenty years of peace at risk. 

"Only the Lib Dems are offering a chance to exit from Brexit and to maintain the peaceful status quo that currently exists in Northern Ireland."

Friday, December 01, 2017

Communities need protection against RBS closures


Commenting on reports that RBS plans to close one in four of its branches, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“We understand that RBS needs to sort out its business so it can be sold at a profit for taxpayers rather than the loss that ministers currently seem to be pushing for
“However, there is also a ‘last bank in town’ policy that all banks should be following to make sure communities are not left without banking facilities, including orderly transfer of services to local Post Offices and free-to-use cash machines.

"We need assurances from RBS that there are arrangements in place that will not leave communities isolated because of its cost-cutting measures.”

Thursday, November 30, 2017

May must cancel Trump meeting now - Cable

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has demanded that Theresa May cancels the expected government to government summit with the "evil racist" Donald Trump.

Vince Cable said:

“Many of us warned when Theresa May walked hand in hand with Donald Trump that any relationship with such a racist was bound to end badly.

“But the prime minister, desperate for a trade deal, ignored the advice from across the political spectrum.

“Britain is now paying the price for her bad misjudgement. Theresa May’s extreme Brexit has alienated our European allies and now she has lost her last remaining friend on the world stage, leaving Britain isolated and alone.

“The solution is clear: an exit from Brexit and a divorce from Trump.”

Immigration down because May has crashed economy

We Liberal Democrats agree that the Conservatives are finally on course to meet their pledge to cut immigration - but only because they have crashed the economy.

Former cabinet minister and now Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:

“The Brexiteers were right that Brexit would reduce immigration. What they forgot to mention was that immigration would go down even before Brexit, due to the widely forecast catastrophic consequences of the government taking Britain out of the world’s largest single market. The Conservative pursuit of an extreme Brexit is crashing the economy and making the country a less attractive place to be.

“Britain was attracting some of the most talented and hard-working people in the international labour market but now we are seeing clear signs of a Brexodus as Theresa May stalls on guaranteeing the right to remain of EU citizens, leaving many feeling unwelcome.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Social mobility report warns of 'spiral of ever growing division'

Britain is in a “spiral of ever-growing division” with a stark postcode lottery in social mobility, according to a damning report by the Social Mobility Commission today.

The report uncovers a striking geographical divide with London and its surrounding areas pulling away from the rest of the country, while many other parts of the country are being left behind.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“This report talks of the UK ‘being in the grip of a self-reinforcing spiral of ever growing division.'

“The government urgently needs to improve social mobility for young people in rural areas, coastal towns and former industrial heartlands.

“Ministers must reverse welfare cuts that are set to push millions more families into poverty, and boost school funding for disadvantaged children through the pupil premium.

“Reducing regional inequality is crucial if we are to address the underlying alienation that led to the Brexit vote, and build a stronger economy.”

Brexit impact assessments farce straight out of "Yes, Prime Minister"

The Liberal Democrats have said the government's refusal to publish its Brexit impact assessment is "completely untenable," after Speaker John Bercow said he will respond promptly to any allegations of contempt of Parliament.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"This whole farce has descended into a scene straight out of Yes Minister.

"After David Davis repeatedly stated there were 57 detailed impact assessments, ministers now claim these reports never even existed in this form.

"Editing these reports is a breach of the agreement reached with MPs, meaning action over contempt of Parliament now looms.

"If the government really believes in its own Brexit plans, why are they so scared of publishing these reports in full?

“The public deserve to know what Brexit means for their jobs, incomes and communities. They must then be offered a vote on the deal with a chance to exit from Brexit."

Army numbers down 2,000 since Conservative 82,000 manifesto pledge

Army numbers have fallen by over 2,000 since the Conservative 2015 Manifesto pledge to keep troop levels above 82,000, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The most recent figures show the number of full-time trained troops now stands at 77,440, down from 79,540 in April 2015 when the Conservative manifesto was published.

It comes as the Government comes under increasing pressure over planned defence cuts, with dozens of Conservative MPs writing to the Chancellor and Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood reportedly prepared to resign.

Alistair Carmichael MP, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, commented:

"The Tory promise to keep our army above 82,000 lies in tatters.

"There are now 2,000 fewer regular troops than when this manifesto pledge was made in 2015.

"But instead of boosting morale and recruitment by giving our troops a pay rise, the government is planning even more cuts.

"Ministers need to clarify now whether they still intend to meet the 82,000 target, and if so by what date.

"Otherwise they will fuel concerns that the Conservatives simply cannot be trusted with maintaining Britain's defence capabilities."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Brexit analyses must not be redacted

Commenting on reports that the government has given the DEXEU Select Committee Brexit sectoral analyses, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:
“It is right that the government has given these Brexit studies to MPs, but I am deeply concerned by reports they may not be complete and leave out key information on the damage Brexit will do to our economy and services. Not giving the full facts could be contempt of parliament.
“The Liberal Democrats want people to be given the facts, so they can decide what they think of the Conservatives’ Brexit deal, with the public having the right to exit from Brexit if it is a bad deal. The government shouldn’t be allowed to keep secret the damage their plans may do.”   

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Vince Cable: Hammond stealth tax on savers is "indefensible"

Around ten million small savers will be hit by a stealth tax worth £500m buried in the small print of the Budget, it emerged yesterday.

Previously small savers were only taxed on increases above inflation, but under the new plans the whole of the increase will be taxed.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

"This is an indefensible raid on small savers.

“With inflation running at 3% a year, many people will see their savings shrink in real terms because of this unfair policy.

"At a time when incomes are being squeezed and household debt is approaching pre-crisis levels, the last thing the Government should be doing is punishing those doing the right thing by saving for the future.

“It is particularly hypocritical of the Chancellor to raise money targeting savers, while wasting £3 billion on Brexit to pay for lawyers and lorry parks that will probably never be used."

When will government listen to defence cuts warnings?

Responding to reports that defence minister Tobias Ellwood has threatened to resign if military cuts bring the army below 70,000 soldiers, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Menzies Campbell said: 

"When  will the government listen and learn? Former members of all three armed services, informed commentators, members of both Houses of Parliament and now a defence minister have all voiced their deepening anxieties about possible heavy cuts in the defence budget.

"Reducing the army even further, cutting the Royal Marines, and selling surface ships will fracture our defence capability."

Friday, November 24, 2017

IFS analysis shows Tories balancing books on backs of the poorest

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative government of "balancing the books on the backs of the poorest," after analysis of the Budget by the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed there are another £12 billion of planned welfare cuts.

The analysis found that the four-year freeze in welfare is now set to lead to 11 million households losing an average of £400 each by 2019, with the poorest 20% of families hit hardest.

The analysis also found average earnings in 2021 look set to plunge to £1,400 lower than forecast in March 2016 - which is lower in real terms than at the time of the financial crash in 2008.

Stephen Lloyd MP, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson, commented:

“This analysis lays bare the utter inadequacy of the funding announced for Universal Credit in yesterday’s budget.

“The Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the poorest, at a time when inflation and personal debt are rising instead of incomes.

“£12 billion worth of cuts aimed at the most vulnerable are still to come, dwarfing the extra £300 million a year promised by the Chancellor.

“A Liberal Democrat budget would have helped the poorest in society by reversing Conservative tax cuts for the super-rich.”

Thursday, November 23, 2017

UK faces longest squeeze on living standards in 60 years

Britain is on course for the longest period of falling living standards since records began in the 1950s, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation.

The think tank found that under plans set out by Philip Hammond in the Budget yesterday, the poorest third of households are set for an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the Parliament, while the richest third will gain an average of £185.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“This analysis exposes the reality of Britain’s economic future under this Conservative government.

“The squeeze on pay and living standards is set to carry on until 2025, made worse by higher inflation since the Brexit vote.

“Meanwhile the Conservatives’ poor management of the economy means the budget will not be balanced until at least the 2030s.

“This was a truly regressive budget that maintained the deepest of the Conservatives’ welfare cuts, hitting the poorest third of households hardest.

“A Liberal Democrat budget would provide the large-scale investment in infrastructure, housing and research needed to boost living standards and productivity.

“We would reverse the Conservatives’ cruel welfare cuts, and bring economic certainty by staying in the Single Market and Customs Union.”

Investment growth down to 0.2% - Cable responds

The government has announced today that growth in business investment is down again to 0.2% in Q3It was 0.8% in Q1, 0.5% in Q2, and now 0.2%.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“This is a further blow to our hopes of lifting Britain’s flagging productivity. One of the major reasons British productivity is stagnating is because of lack of investment. It is particularly worrying that there has been a fall in investment in IT equipment and machinery.

“While growth and productivity are improving across most of the EU27, Britain has fallen to the bottom of the growth league of major economies. This is in significant part due to the Conservative government’s determination to pursue a hard Brexit, taking us out of the single market and customs union.”

Cable: Shadow Chancellor needs to get his sums right

Responding to John McDonnell's refusal to state how much Labour's borrowing plans would cost on the Today programme this morning, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 

"It's worrying that the Shadow Chancellor hasn't done his sums. Or perhaps he has done his sums and he realises they're so horrendous that he's unwilling to acknowledge that his version of a Labour government would put the country into financial difficulties.

"We start from a bad position. The Budget warned of increased borrowing, dependent on the 'kindness of strangers'. A Labour government focused on massive nationalisation would make things even worse."

The Government must pause Universal Credit rather than just tinker with it

Responding to the Budget announcement on Universal Credit yesterday, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said:

"The government’s U-turns are welcome but beg the question: why have they taken this long?

"The overall system is still not fit for purpose. It must be paused before even more of our most vulnerable citizens are made to suffer on the ideological anvil of this Conservative government.

“Why is it that this government insists on rolling out Universal Credit, instead of just stopping and fixing it?"

"The Chancellor ignored the £3 billion cut that was taken out of UC by George Osborne in 2015, which  effectively destroyed its aim of making work pay.

"The self-employed and single parents are still being shockingly treated, and many people will still face the risk of eviction because of the government making it difficult for UC recipients having their rent paid direct to landlords.”

Cable: budget sunk by growth bombshell

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has seized on the Chancellor's admission that the UK economy will be smaller by a huge £45 billion than was estimated as recently as March.

Vince Cable said:

“The economy will be £45 billion smaller in 2021 than predicted as recently as March. And that is the least worst case scenario.

“Philip Hammond might as well have sat down and stopped talking once he announced this slump in growth figures.

“Britain has gone from top of the growth league to deep into the relegation zone, with each person set to be £687 worse off per year.

"The OBR has revised down future earnings, productivity and household consumption.

“The worst part is much of this damage is self-inflicted, with the hard Brexit this government is pursuing."

Hammond to look into plastic waste charge in victory for Lib Dems

Philip Hammond has announced he will consider charges on single-use plastic items to reduce waste.

It comes following a Liberal Democrat campaign to introduce a charge on disposable coffee cups, to reduce the billions of cups thrown away in the UK each year.

Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, said:

“This is a major victory for the Liberal Democrats, who have long been demanding action to tackle plastic waste.
“We now need to make sure this consultation leads to real action and isn’t just kicking the cup down the road.
“Our environment and wildlife cannot wait any longer for tough measures to reduce plastic debris polluting our rivers, seas and countryside.
“Introducing a charge on disposable cups, like the plastic bag charge, could change people’s behaviour and help protect the planet.“