Olney responds to Brexit research warning

Responding to the results of a survey about the impact of a hard Brexit on research and development conducted by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, Lib Dem Richmond Park candidate Sarah Olney said:

Our country has always been a world leader in research and innovation, but hard Brexit threatens to destroy that reputation by making cross-border collaboration too costly, too complicated and too bureaucratic.

Instead of scoffing at experts, the Conservatives must engage with these esteemed national academies to ensure that leaving the European Union does not damage their vital work.

Farron: May must not rush into unilateral military action in Syria

Responding to reports Theresa May plans to push through a vote to bomb Syria if she wins the elections, Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

The idea that after months of disinterest and inaction Theresa May would back military intervention against Assad in Syria outside of a wider diplomatic strategy and without UN backing is deeply worrying.

Assad is a brutal dictator, and the use of chemical weapons is indefensible.

The action taken by Donald Trump earlier this month was a necessary and proportionate response to the horrific use of chemical weapons. However, we were absolutely clear that we disagreed with the way in which he conducted it- unilaterally, without allies, outside of a wider strategy.

That is why the UK must not rush headlong into supporting further unilateral military action in Syria by Trump. Undermining international law and rejecting international cooperation has the potential to create instability on a global scale – seen all too clearly by the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

May would be wise not to use Syria as a campaign tool in this election. This would come across as calculating, unconsidered, and without the best interest of the Syrian people at heart.

Lamb: IFS figures reveal both health and social care spending to fall per person

Both health and social care spending per person are set to fall in the coming years under current government plans, analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed. The figures predicted that health spending per person will be 1.3% lower in 2020 than in 2010 once the UK’s growing and ageing population is taken into account. Meanwhile even if councils make full use of powers to raise council tax to pay for social care, spending will still be 3.4% lower per adult than in 2010.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:

These figures reveal the sheer scale of the crisis facing the NHS and social care in the years ahead.

It’s time to be honest with the public about the bold solutions needed to ensure patients and elderly people continue to receive the right level of care.

Otherwise we will see standards fall and hospitals collapse under the pressure of growing demand.

The Liberal Democrats are prepared to take the difficult decisions required to secure the future of the NHS and care, including increasing tax.

Rail Needs Urgent Modernisation – Randerson

Responding to the Campaign for Better Transport’s report calling for a reform of rail franchising and improvements in ticketing, Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson Baroness Randerson said:

Liberal Democrats are on the side of the customer when it comes to needing more guarantees, and sanctions where necessary for failing franchises. The rail network could desperately do with modernising from top to bottom, including the way in which we pay inconsistent fares with outdated technology.

The party believes that a greater focus on passengers is needed to improve performance and would like to see the Department for Transport extend the right to operate franchises to those at a more local level.

Ed Davey: Disgrace Government had to be dragged through courts on air pollution

The Government has announced it won’t challenge the High Court judgement and will publish a draft plan to tackle air pollution next week, after having attempted to delay the plans until after the election.

Ed Davey, former Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary and the party’s candidate for Kingston and Surbiton, commented:

It is a disgrace this Conservative government had to be dragged through the courts before agreeing to publish a plan to tackle air pollution. How much taxpayers’ money has been wasted because of the failure of ministers to do the right thing?

There is an urgent threat to people’s health from air pollution, yet time and again this government has dithered and delayed instead of taking action.

The Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure action is taken to tackle the air pollution crisis that is claiming thousands of lives in UK each year.

Tories ‘relaxed’ about NHS crisis shows why we need the Lib Dems to be the Official Opposition

The government is ‘relaxed’ about the crisis in general practice because it thinks Labour can’t win the general election, Dr Phil Hammond, a former GP and health commentator has said. Commenting on the news, Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said:

The Tories have acted with outrageous complacency by repeatedly failing to take action to tackle the crisis in our NHS and care services. Time and again, I have called on Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt to give the NHS and social care the extra funding they desperately need to keep pace with growing demand, but this has fallen on deaf ears.

This election is a chance to show the Conservatives that they cannot continue to put the future of our most essential public services in jeopardy. A vote for the Liberal Democrats will be a vote to give our health and care services the resources they desperately need.

Vote Liberal Democrat in the General Election to stop a hard Brexit

If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.

What this means for Britain

Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.

Labour won’t win any seats off the Conservatives.

The SNP could only possibly win one seat off the Conservatives.

But there are dozens of Conservative seats where the Lib Dems are the challengers. The only way to stop Theresa May winning a majority is by the Lib Dems winning in those seats.

The only way to prevent a Conservative majority is by voting Liberal Democrat.

The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.

The Liberal Democrats are STILL the only party with a plan for Britain


If you were hoping for a clear and sensible plan for Brexit Britain from Theresa May youíll be disappointed Theresa May’s 12 point speech contained no plan for Britain.

The one thing we did learn is the Conservatives have ditched their 2015 manifesto promise to stay in the Single Market and have now decided to take Britain out whatever the cost.

It’s clear the government has no idea of how to move forward and no opposition from Labour, who are also backing Brexit.

Many local people are choosing to back the Liberal Democrats because they have a positive plan for Britain and are the only party united in delivering an open and tolerant Britain.

The Liberal Democrats positive plan for Brexit Britain 

We will fight to keep the UK in the single market. 
We will give the public not just MPs the final say on a Brexit deal. 

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron says, ìI think even people who disagree with us will respect the fact we are standing by what we believe.î

And for the many millions of people who agree with us, my message to them is: join us

Tim Farron’s speech to the IPPR: Lib Dems will find a “more humane, effective, successful way of doing economics”

Like so many people, I felt shocked and emotional about the result of the vote on 23 June.

I know many people who wept at the news.

I can understand that.

Not because I love the specific institutions of the European Union, but because I feel European.

I also feel British. And English.

And northern. And I don’t feel any conflict between those identities, in fact they reinforce each other.

But the result seemed to throw this balance into doubt.

And yes, I also felt angry.

I still feel angry now, but perhaps for a different reason.

Because never in recent history have we, in the political classes, let down the people of this country so disastrously.

And I make no distinction here between those who voted to Remain and those who voted to Leave.

They were battered with dodgy statistics. From both sides.

They were lied to.

On both sides too – though it is the NHS and the £350 million that particularly sticks in the throat.

And worse than that.

They were misled by lackadaisical politicians, playing games, who had campaigned for years to leave the EU – but hadn’t bothered to come up with a plan about what to do if it happened.

We, the political classes, have left a country bitterly divided as a result.

Between parents and children, families, neighbours.

Between the nations of our own union, who have worked and fought together for centuries.

Between us and our continental neighbours.

And now the biggest danger of them all.

That because of those divisions, we are in danger of letting malevolent forces hijack the result.

Plenty of my mates voted leave and I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of those who did vote leave are utterly appalled that Farage, Le Pen and their ilk now seek to claim the result as a victory for their hateful brand of intolerance, racism and insularity. Britain is better than that.

But I’m not so blinded by those emotions that I don’t see the new divisions that are opening up between us.

New political boundaries which chop the old certainties of Tory and Labour into little pieces.

Because there’s a new battle emerging.

Between the forces of tolerant liberalism and intolerant, closed-minded nationalism.

And, of course, you know that, as leader of the Liberal Democrats, which side I’m on.

But I also know what side most people in this country are on too.

In the 48 per cent and also in the 52 per cent.

So let’s be clear about this.

I am absolutely committed to the cause of an open-minded, open-hearted United Kingdom.

United in every sense of the word.

Because, as Jo Cox said, we have more in common with each other in this country than what divides us.

And, yes, I campaigned my heart out to stay a member of the European Union. And would do again given the chance.

But a nation divided against itself can’t stand.

Nor can it hammer out a way forward from the current impasse.

And our combined history cries out for some more inspiring political leadership.

Which can say that, in or out, we remain an open-minded, outward-looking nation.

Which can say, in or out, we will be European and British and from our own towns, villages and cities.

And be proud of all of them.

Which can say to those from other countries who have committed their lives alongside us in the UK: we will stand by you, no matter what.

Let me just say that again.

We will stand by you.

As we stood by each other across Europe in the Second World War.

We will stand by you, who have chosen British communities to live in.

Not only that but we need you.

If the tens of thousands of people who make it possible to run our schools and health service were to worry about our commitment to them…

So much so that it threatens their commitment to us…

It would seriously undermine services that are used by some of the most vulnerable people in this country.

The Conservative and Labour parties may have so forgotten themselves that they’ve missed this urgent consideration.

But we haven’t.

So I make this absolute promise.

To use what power we can muster, to make sure that those who have committed their lives and families to this country will be protected.

That no kneejerk populism will be allowed to threaten them or uproot them.

And I ask now all the many candidates for high positions in Westminster to join me in this undertaking.

I don’t just say this as the leader of a political party.

I don’t just commit my own party to this.

I speak as a Member of Parliament in one of the most open-hearted nations on earth.

I speak as a proud citizen of this country.

We will not stand by to let Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen dictate our policy, our direction, or our morality.

So, yes, I campaigned to remain. I’ll carry on campaigning to remain.

But we have gone beyond June’s referendum now.

There are more fundamental, more urgent issues that we must face today.

Existential issues about our nation.

About what they’re saying about us in the rest of the planet.

The newspapers.

The investors.

About protecting neighbours and friends born in other countries from hate.

So, yes, I recognise and understand the motivations of many of those who voted the other way to me.

I’m a white, working class, middle aged, northern male. By voting remain, I pretty much confounded the predicted behaviour my demographic might suggest! And for once it put me at odds with lots of the people I grew up with.

Who are as proud as I am about the same things I’m proud of in our country.

I understand their fears for their own communities.

I completely get why being talked down to by Cameron and Osborne, threatened with a ‘punishment budget’ might push even the most internationalist person to vote leave!

And nobody ever said the European Union was perfect. Least of all me.

Its aspiration of peace and co-operation in Europe is vitally important.

It still is.

But I’m aware that the reality of the EU can often be inflexible.

I understand that people’s liberal commitment to local communities, which I absolutely share, sometimes led them to vote differently to me.

I understand those who voted for Brexit and their frustration about the way that the big banks were allowed to torpedo the economy.

And torpedo so many people’s lives.

Without sanction. Without even a loss of bonuses.

While those who have tried to make a more tangible contribution their whole lives, have been sidelined, bullied and left behind.

I understand that, possibly better than any other leader. Because whilst South Lakeland voted remain, it was the only place in Lancashire or Cumbria that did. And I grew up in and I belong to the very part of British society that most heavily voted leave.

And yes I understand their fears that their communities have been changed. Maybe even overwhelmed.

Not so much to satisfy Brussels, but specifically to reduce the wages of the big food manufacturers.

Or the cleaning contractors.

Or the care homes.

Because what June’s vote did reveal, above everything else, is how angry people have become.

And though we might argue about the reasons for it, their anger is justified.

We have banking institutions that have let them down, suffocating their businesses.

We have an economic policy that favours the rich over everyone else, middle class, working class alike.

We have a housing crisis that’s consuming our children.

We have a Treasury so cut off from reality that they urged people not to vote for Brexit – because it might mean property prices would rise more slowly.

As if people weren’t struggling now to get a foot on the housing ladder.

To help their children scrape enough together to rent a place of their own.

We have people treated like cattle with zero-hour contracts.

We have those who worked as pillars of their community all their lives…

Running small businesses.

Managing farms…

Making a difference…

Only to see themselves gazumped by salaries ten or a hundred times as much by cash-hungry bankers in their twenties. The devastation of our communities n the Lakes overwhelmed by excessive second home ownership is a case in point.

In short, we have an underlying, aching discomfort which goes to the heart of the reasons for the immediate crisis.

More than a discomfort.

It is a great and abiding fear, gnawing away at the heart of our society.

And we have a political class, which I don’t particularly like having to accept I’m a member of, which has abandoned people disastrously to their fate.

I believe that, in the national interest, we remainers and brexiters can most of us understand the motivations of voters on the other side to us.

We’re able to see beyond the stereotypes.

And to say together.

This open-minded nation will survive.

It will survive because these Liberal values are shared by so many of us.

The right to say ‘this is who I am’. ‘This is who we are’.

And the enterprising commitment to challenge the big bureaucracies and the big businesses from below.

That’s why we will defend people wherever they came from originally.

Those who were born and bred here who are locked out of success by boneheaded cuts in adult education.

But also the Polish families who have work three jobs just to pay the rent, but who still help to run the school fete.

And the refugees who provide lynchpins to hospital after hospital from one side of the country to the other.

Right across the nation, and woven together, from Cornwall to Caithness.

Again, I say this not just as a party leader.

I don’t just say this to commit my party to it.

I say it as a proud citizen of this country.

With a shared history that’s always been outward-looking.

Connected through trade to other corners of the world in a way that no nation ever was before.

We provided the international language of the world.

We led the world in industrial development, moral development and scientific development.

And we stood up against tyranny even when it didn’t threaten us directly.

When all over Europe, those suffering under occupation, risked their lives to huddle around their wirelesses to listen to broadcasts from London.

There never was a moment in our history when we pulled up the drawbridge.

There never will be.

It just isn’t true that Britain voted to do that.

So that’s also my commitment as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

To listen to that fear and take it seriously.

And then to hammer out and enact a more humane, more successful, more effective way of doing economics.

More challenging, more enterprising and more ambitious.

Which shares the rewards of success so that the state doesn’t have to step in so much.

To take on the real vested interests that hold us back as a nation.

The zero hour contractors.

The speculators.

The monopolists.

Those who would hijack people’s anger for their own racist agenda.

So that we can shape a fairer nation.

But also keep those outward-looking British values of tolerance and mutual respect that we all believe in.

Because there are going to be difficult, maybe dark, times ahead.

We’ve been made a laughing stock abroad.

We’ve had to watch the shaming pictures of Nigel Farage sneering on our behalf in the European Parliament.

We have to find a solution when both the biggest national parties have preferred to unravel than to take a lead.

But I’m a Liberal.

I believe in people.

And I especially believe in our people.

In their sense and their humanity, whether they voted to stay or to go.

People have been let down for decades by short-termist politicians who put the needs of one part of society above the rest.

Now, in the wake of the Brexit vote those divisions are more exposed than ever before.

With our country facing huge challenges…

– from inequality and injustice to an NHS in crisis and an economy in jeopardy –

…we are left with a reckless, divisive and uncaring Conservative Government and Labour fighting among themselves with no plan for the economy or the country.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are needed more than ever.

We are the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

Britain is the most sophisticated and welcoming and innovative nation in the world and, in or out, we will stay that.

And we Liberal Democrats will do whatever we can, in Parliament and outside.

To reshape the way the nation works, to bring it back together.

To stay civilised.

To stay united.

Because, wherever we were born, we love our country.

Chilcot Report – Proud of my party for leading the way

Today is a day for reflection, as we consider the consequences of the fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.

Our first thoughts need to be with the families across the world who have grieved loved ones, experienced life-changing injuries, and witnessed destruction and despair often beyond description.

There is no justice that can compensate their loss, and today we have learned from the Chilcot Report (http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report)

what we all knew already in our hearts – it did not have to be this way

For many members in my local party, the Iraq war was a genuine turning point.

Many others chose to join the Liberal Democrats when they saw Charles Kennedy step up to the challenge, in difficult times, and provide the strong, principled leadership our country so desperately needed.

In 2003, every Liberal Democrat MP voted AGAINST going to war in Iraq.

It was the right thing to do, and that has been proven again today. Sir John Chilcot’s report has shown that this was a war of choice, that options for a peaceful resolution still existed, and that our Prime Minister wilfully mislead parliament and the British people to march us into a war he had already decided to launch.

I was proud to see our leader Charles Kennedy refuse to compromise, despite enormous pressure and abuse pouring in from all sides, on the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to internationalism and respect for international law.

You can see Charles’s speeches below, he was a real example of principled leadership in a time of crisis. It is not just Liberal Democrats who are missing Charles today. Our whole country is all the poorer without him.

Finally, while Chilcot gives us the chance to reflect on past mistakes, we still have a duty to oppose the mistakes that our leaders are making today!

Right now, Britain risks cutting herself off from our most valuable allies and trading partners, putting millions of jobs at risk and doing massive harm to our economy. I’m proud of Tim Farron for showing equal determination and leadership to fight Brexit and put Britain back where we belong, at the heart of an open, tolerant, free, and prosperous Europe.

If you agreed with us in 2003, if you agree with us now in 2016 it is time to join the party that is proudly and passionately fighting for the better future we all believe in. (https://libdems.secure.force.com/LiberalDemocrats/NewMemberRegistration)

You can see some great videos of Charles Kennedy’s speeches on Iraq in Parliament and at the anti-way rally in Hyde Park here :