Friday, August 18, 2017

Delay to Brexit trade talks a "humiliating climbdown" for David Davis

Ministers have privately admitted that the government may not start negotiating Britain's future trade relationship with the EU until the end of the year, it emerged today.

This comes despite David Davis insisting back in May that talks on a future trade agreement would take place in parallel with negotiation over the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"This is a humiliating climbdown for David Davis. Once again the bluff and bluster of Tory eurosceptics is being exposed to the cold reality of Brexit.

"We were told the EU would be begging us for a trade deal, now even the hard Brexiteers in this government are having to admit Brussels won't roll over just because the Germans sell us cars.

"The UK could now be left with just ten months to negotiate a trade agreement before we crash out of the EU.

"The reality is no trade deal will be able to replace the benefits for jobs and living standards we enjoy as members of the Single Market and Customs Union."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Northern Ireland border plan has "more holes than a colander"

The Liberal Democrats have said the government's plan for the Northern Ireland border after Brexit has "more holes in it than a colander."

It comes after the government admitted EU nationals will still be able to enter the UK from Ireland after Brexit under its plans.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey commented:

"This plan has more holes in it than a colander.

"The Brexiteers claimed it was worth damaging the UK economy to reclaim control of our borders, now we're told even this isn't going to happen.

"The Conservatives are finally admitting that there are ways to control free movement by making reforms to our labour market and social security.

"That raises the question, why are they still planning to damage jobs and living standards by leaving the Single Market?

"Instead of this half-way house that will satisfy no-one, the Conservatives should protect the economy by keeping Britain in the Single Market and Customs Union."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Customs Paper shows “constructive ambiguity” code for “we don’t have a clue”

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the lack of detail in the Government's paper on new customs arrangements after Brexit.

It comes after Brexit Secretary Davis claimed that lack of clarity over the Government's Brexit plans was a deliberate attempt at "constructive ambiguity" as part of the negotiations.

Proposals for new custom arrangements in the paper include "new innovative facilitations," "technology-based solutions" and an "innovative and untested approach."

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael commented:

“It’s clear that ‘constructive ambiguity’ is code for ‘we don’t have a clue.’

“The government has effectively narrowed down its options to having a hard border, or staying in the Customs Union but calling it something else.

“This paper has more abstract nouns than an A-Level English essay. Who knew there were so many ways for the government to admit that they don’t have a clue what they’re doing?

“David Davis should spend less time with a thesaurus and more time looking into the chaos at our borders that would be caused by an extreme Brexit.
“The only way to guarantee free and easy trade with the EU is to stay in the Customs Union and Single Market.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Failure to address indeterminate prison sentences a "disgrace"

The Liberal Democrats have backed calls by the Chairman of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, for urgent action to address the backlog of people serving prison sentences with no fixed release date.

Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs) were abolished in 2012, but there are over 3,000 people in England and Wales still serving them, with many facing long delays for Parole Board hearings.

Those serving indeterminate sentences have also been found to have far higher rates of self-harm than those serving fixed sentences.

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks commented:

"It's a disgrace that five years on since the abolition of IPPs, thousands are still languishing in prison serving sentences way beyond their original terms.

"When the Coalition Government abolished IPPs, the Secretary of State was given the power to change the release test and it was expected he would use it. At a time when we are trying to get prisoner numbers down, it is absurd that this has not been done.

"We know that those serving indeterminate sentences are more likely to self-harm and attempt to take their own lives.

"This situation is made worse by understaffing, chronic overcrowding and lack of access to mental healthcare in our prisons.

"The government has a moral responsibility to reform the system and speed up the release of those who have served their tariff sentences."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tory attempt to take away people's rights under cover of Brexit Bill

Responding to reports that the Repeal Bill will remove the right of UK citizens to sue the Government, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"This is a shameless attempt to take away people's rights through the back-door.

"Citizens must be able to hold the government to account when it breaks the rules.

"The Liberal Democrats will fight in Parliament to stop Brexit from being used to water down individual rights."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farron: Modern slavery in the UK is "a national scandal"

Commenting on the news that the National Crime Agency estimates there are tens of thousands of victims of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK, former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: 

"This shocking report shows that modern slavery is alive and well in 21st century Britain.

"It's a hidden national scandal.

"People are being bought and sold like cattle across the UK right under our noses.

"The government must step up efforts to stamp out this vile trade.

"Local police forces across the country need to be trained to spot the signs, and victims need to know that they'll be fully supported and protected if they come forward."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Soaring trade deficit shows Brexit export boom has failed to materialise

The UK's monthly trade deficit soared by £2bn in June, driven by a 3.5% slump in exports, figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed.

The figures also show that exports to EU countries increased by 2.0% between the first and second quarters of the year, while exports to non-EU countries fell by 1.4%.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“As with the extra £350m a week for the NHS, the export boom dreamed up by the Brexiteers has failed to materialise.

"The advantage to UK exporters from the fall in the pound has been offset by the rising cost of imports and uncertainty caused by Brexit.

"As these figures show, Europe remains by far the UK's most important export market.

"This underlines the need to support UK exporters and control our trade deficit by remaining in the single market and customs union."

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Local Liberal Democrats object to proposed Baglan gaol

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats have joined the objections to Welsh Government land in Baglan being sold to the Ministry of Justice for a prison.  The prison being sited on the business park will tend to deter firms from setting up there and it will be a poor advertisement for Briton Ferry and Neath, being visible from the GWR main line. Although it is defined as a category C prison, there would be a danger of more dangerous convicts being housed there because of overspill from England's historically high prison population.

Frank Little, candidate for Neath in the general election, added: "As a matter of principle, Liberal Democrats object to 'super prisons' because they do not help rehabilitation as more local facilities do. We agree that town and city prisons built before the Great War should be replaced or extensively renovated to modern standards, but we should not lose successful initiatives such as Cardiff's 'Clink' restaurant.

"The need for more prison space is a direct result of not only poor rehabilitation - we need to increase prison staff to improve this, not reduce it, as government has been doing - but also of the Blair/Brown governments' creation of a new criminal offence for virtually every day they were in office."

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Neuberger ECJ warning shows Government leaving judges in the line of fire on Brexit

Responding to warnings by Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger that UK judges need more clarity over the role of the EU Court of Justice after Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"Judges have already been branded 'enemies of the people' for daring to challenge Theresa May's plans to force through an extreme Brexit with no accountability.

"Now the Government's inability to set out clearly how, whether or when ECJ rulings should be taken into account risks leaving judges in the firing line yet again.

"The Government must provide greater clarity in the Repeal Bill over the role the ECJ will play post-Brexit.

"We must not let the Conservatives' obsession with ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ lead to a chaotic Brexit that would maximise damage to British jobs and families.

"That should include abiding by ECJ rulings when this is required to ensure free trade with the EU and continued cooperation against crime and terrorism."

Monday, August 07, 2017

Labour leadership must end infatuation with Venezuela - Cable

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's statement on Venezuela, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"Labour have again failed to condemn President Maduro as he slides his country closer to dictatorship. It remains a source of fascination that the far left see what is happening in Venezuela as some kind of role model for British politics.

"The whole idea that Chavez and his successor could serve as a dry run for government in the UK is absolutely horrifying.

"Venezuela is facing a complete economic collapse with hyperinflation and chronic shortages of basic necessities. This is essentially a rich country slipping into deep poverty, all the while eroding democratic institutions and the rule of law.

"The leadership of the Labour Party must make it abundantly clear that they have ended their infatuation with the Venezuelan regime."

Friday, August 04, 2017

Cautious welcome for train passenger ombudsman

Commenting on the news that train companies have committed to introducing a new independent ombudsman Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary Jenny Randerson said: 
“Whilst this is welcome news for passengers, the government need to now make sure this is in place as quickly as possible. Commuters are fed up with poor service and there can be no excuses for delays in establishing this ombudsman system as one already exists that could simply be expanded”

Gove hypocrisy on fisheries exposed

Liberal Democrats have reacted with bafflement to the statement by Michael Gove that British waters would continue to be fished by EU trawlers post-Brexit. Gove made his experiences of the fishing industry growing up in Aberdeen a major reason for his support for Brexit.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

“Yet another lie of the Leave campaign has been exposed by the Environment Secretary.

“Michael Gove chose to put stopping EU fishing in British waters front and centre of his campaign to leave the EU, yet is now telling Danish Fishermen the opposite.

“We saw a promise of £350 million for the NHS on the side of a bus, this promise to fisherman might as well have been painted on the hull of a boat.”

Thursday, August 03, 2017

National Trust attacks government on farming – Lib Dem response

The family farm could disappear due to the government’s failure to guarantee subsidy beyond 2022, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Liberal Democrat farming spokesperson Kate Parminter said:

“No doubt ministers will also ignore the National Trust for being experts.

“It is right that farming subsidy should be in return for promoting the public good, such as for producing high quality food and for improving the environment.

“But the government’s refusal to guarantee subsidies beyond 2022 makes it impossible for farmers to plan, threatens the very future of the family farm, and could have devastating effects on the much-loved British landscape.”

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron added:

“Farmers have every right to feel betrayed by this government but ministers no doubt fear that their extreme Conservative Brexit will cause such damage to the economy that they won’t be in a financial position to guarantee subsidies for the family farm into the next parliament. Farmers have been betrayed.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Liberal Democrats say: current drug laws do not work

Commenting on ONS figures showing that last year there were the highest number of drug poisoning deaths since records began, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said: 

"These latest statistics highlight the abject failure of the Government's drug strategy. 

"Lives are being lost but the Conservatives seem wedded to this hard-line approach. 

"We have to accept the realities facing us and start taking action that works. Rather than locking up addicts we should be giving these individuals the help they need. How many more lives will be lost before the Government realises this?" 

Candidate for Neath in the general election, Frank Little, added: "Giving help along the lines proposed by Norman Lamb and the Liberal Democrats will not only save lives but remove the dangerous drug paraphernalia dumped in Neath's alleys and playgrounds. It should also cut down the number of homeless on our streets".