Government defeated on death penalty assurances
The Conservative Government has today been defeated in the House of Lords, with peers voting for a Liberal Democrat-backed amendment that will prevent the death penalty being used in cases where the UK has provided electronic data.
The Government’s “Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill” would give courts new powers to require internet companies outside the UK to provide electronic data that law enforcement agencies need to investigate and prosecute serious crimes, but only once new international agreements have been signed.
The amendment, passed at report stage in the House of Lords today, will require those agreements to include assurances from other countries that the death penalty will not be imposed in cases where electronic data from the UK is used.
Following the debate, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hamwee said:
The death penalty is one of the greatest affronts to fundamental human rights. It is cruel, inhumane and irreversible. The UK must oppose its use anywhere in the world.
The Home Secretary’s decision earlier this year not to seek death penalty assurances from the US undermines that opposition. If the UK is seen no longer fully to oppose the death penalty, it weakens our ability to persuade others to abolish it.
I am therefore pleased that we have successfully amended this Bill to ensure that death penalty assurances must be part of data-sharing agreements with other countries.
Government must include all violence against women and girls in Domestic Abuse Bill
Responding to a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee into domestic abuse, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
The Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill is urgently needed, but the Liberal Democrats agree with the Committee that it should go beyond domestic abuse to cover all violence against women and girls. The Government must ensure that all victims are listened to and supported throughout the criminal justice system.
But changing the law will make little difference without the resources to actually help victims of violence and abuse. We need more funding for refuges and rape crisis centres, as well as a new national rape crisis helpline. And we need to reverse Conservative cuts to the community policing that helps to keep us all safe.
95% completion of a shambles will not bring confidence to anyone
Responding to reports that the PM will tell parliament the Government has negotiated 95% of the Brexit deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:
Considering the mess the Government has made of Brexit the fact 95% of the shambles is complete is unlikely to bring confidence to anyone.
Not only has the PM failed to come up with any real solution to the Irish border, a concrete plan for trading in services or a functioning customs arrangement, it seems the percentage chances of a deal getting through parliament is less than 5%.
On Saturday over half a million people marched in London for a people’s vote. Whatever the Government thinks it has negotiated, the country demands a final say on the deal with an option to remain.
Research shows hard border for NI puts lives at risk
Research by the Liberal Democrats and PoliticsHome has shown how crucial a soft border is between Ireland and Northern Ireland, specifically in relation to emergency service call-outs.
A series of freedom of information requests has shown that 182 ambulances and 270 fire engines crossed into the Republic during 2016-17 in response to 999 calls, highlighting how a hard border could potentially leave people with far slower emergency responses if the UK leaves the EU in a no-deal Brexit.
Commenting on these findings, Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:
This research shows just how essential smooth border traffic is in Northern Ireland, and why it is so essential for Theresa May and the EU to sort this mess out.
These call-outs are likely in many cases to be matters of critical importance, life or death potentially. Every second counts. Nothing should jeopardise cross-border cooperation and if it is lost, that will rightly doom May’s legacy.
The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Prime Minister must get back round the table with the negotiators, she has got to deliver a deal which works for Northern Ireland and the border communities on both sides in order to ensure there is no collateral damage to her calamitous Brexit.
Starmer must make People’s Vote Labour’s Brexit priority – Brake
On his programme this morning, Andrew Marr challenged Keir Starmer over the number of “hurdles” the Shadow Brexit Secretary was putting in the way of Labour fully backing a People’s Vote.
Responding, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
The People’s Vote march was genuinely cross-party and one of the striking features was the number of Labour voters who attended. This backs up authoritative academic research showing that around four in five Labour members want a final say on any Brexit deal.
Yet the Labour frontbench refuses to get off the fence. They have set too many hurdles until they will back a People’s Vote.
Starmer, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell must be clear in making supporting this vote, including the option of staying in the EU, their main Brexit priority. They should have been on the march.
With Labour frontbench support we can get that vote – and then win it.
Raab is making up Brexit policy as he goes along – Brake
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab told The Andrew Marr Show today that the proposed 21-month Brexit transition period could be extended by three months.
Raab also said a Brexit deal must be agreed by the end of next month.
Responding, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
Dominic Raab seems to be making up the Conservatives’ Brexit position as he goes along. It’s difficult to see what major difference an extension of three months could possibly make.
The Conservatives have form on using sticky plaster solutions to problems that require major political surgery. Raab should listen to the 700,000 people who formed one of the biggest marches in British history this weekend and hold a People’s Vote to get us out of this mess of the Conservatives’ making.
Cable: Arms sales to Saudi Arabia “embarrassingly compromising”
Responding to Saudi Arabia’s claim that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a fight in its consulate in Istanbul, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:
This situation gets murkier and murkier – Saudi Arabia seems to have forgotten about a death in its own consulate.
The UK’s heavy reliance on Saudi Arabia for arms sales is embarrassingly compromising in these circumstances.
The government should have already suspended arms export licences to Saudi Arabia given the outrages in Yemen. This reinforces the argument for loosening the bonds to the regime.
12% rise in knife crime proves Government must end forces’ budget cuts
Responding to the release of Government statistics which show a 12% rise in knife crime, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
The Tories always tell us that the Government’s first duty is to keep people safe. On their own terms, they are failing.
Unnecessary Conservative police cuts have left fewer officers on our streets and made communities less safe. The Home Office’s own analysis shows that police cuts have likely contributed to the rise in serious violent crime, yet the Conservatives continue to squeeze forces’ budgets.
The Liberal Democrats demand better for our communities and our police. We will end the Conservative cuts and invest an extra £300 million a year to recruit more officers, boost community policing and reverse the rise in serious violence.
Extending transition period another embarrassing climbdown
Responding to the news that Theresa May is open to extending the transition period, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
Theresa May once argued that we didn’t need a transition period at all. Admitting that an extension is on the table, and the billions it would cost, is yet another in a long list of embarrassing climbdowns for this Tory Government.
The blame for this mess falls squarely at the Prime Minister’s feet. Over the last two years, her Government has failed to find solutions to the Irish border, failed to protect businesses and put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.
This Conservative Government is in chaos. MPs from across parties must stand with the Liberal Democrats and fight for the people to have the final say over Brexit, including the option to remain.
Govt must freeze fares and sort out rail fiasco
Commenting as chaos intensifies at Paddington station, former Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:
The chaos on the railway at Paddington station once again shows the urgent need for the Government’s rail review. It’s hard to believe that testing a new train was allowed to happen on the busiest part of the network in the middle of the working week, surely this could be better thought-out.
If Paddington Bear had arrived today, he wouldn’t have been greeted by a new family, but crowds of frustrated people awaiting a rail replacement bus service.
We need an urgent freeze on fares while Government sorts this fiasco, a proper automatic compensation scheme and assurances there are enough marmalade sandwiches to placate understandably angry commuters.