MORE CHAOS WITH TORY BREXIT. Lib Dem Press Releases 9/10 February

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.

Lib Dem International Trade spokesperson slams Liam Fox for misleading House. Lib Dem Press Release 7th February

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.

Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime. Lib Dem Press Release 6th February

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.


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.


Cable: Brexit causing the economy to stagnate

Responding to the news that growth in the service sector has stalled according to the IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

There is now cumulative evidence that Brexit uncertainty is causing the economy to stagnate. Even if we avoid no-deal, we will have to face the prospect of a blind Brexit.

With our economy in such a fragile state, it would take very little to push the country into a recession. This is the risk the government is taking.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that there is only one way to end this paralysing economic uncertainty. The public must be given a People’s Vote on Brexit, with the option to Remain.

EU citizens in Holyhead face 224 mile round trip to register for settled status

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.

The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 ‘document scanning’ centres instead.

For Holyhead, the closest ‘document scanning’ centre is Trafford. According to analysis by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Holyhead, would face costs of £55 on the train for at least a six and a half hour round trip. The drive would be a 224 mile round trip costing around £56 in fuel.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

Too many people in Wales are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.

For anyone who doesn’t have an android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in in Holyhead that means facing a 224 mile round trip and paying over £50 for the privilege. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:

Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?

It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit.

Davey questions Justice Minister on potential Brexit bribes

The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has questioned the Justice Minister, David Gauke, on whether the Government are in breach of the Bribery Act (2010) over plans to offer MPs money for their constituency to vote for the Brexit deal. The Justice minister stated that he would meet with Ed Davey to discuss this important matter.

The issue has come to prominence after a letter from Liberal Democrat Peer Martin Thomas was published in the Sunday Times.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

With media reports that a desperate Number 10 is seeking to tempt Opposition MPs to back their Brexit deal by offering constituency favours, Liberal Democrats are right to call foul play.

The Government could be in clear breach of the Bribery Act. I am pleased David Gauke is now prepared to meet me to discuss this serious matter, and I will be seeking an early date.

Brexit should not be stitched up with backroom deals but sorted out with a people’s vote, with an option to remain in the EU.

Nobody should take lectures from Liam Fox. Lib Dem Press Release 1st February

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.

Moran: Rough sleeping shames our whole country. Lib Dem Press Release 31st January

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. Lib Dem Press Release 31st January

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: CBI warning of no-deal plans reveals no faith in PM. Lib Dem Press Release 30th January

Cable: CBI warning of no-deal plans reveals no faith in PM

Responding to reports that the Head of the CBI expects UK companies to speed up plans for a no-deal Brexit in response to votes in the House of Commons last night, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The voice of business in our country can’t be ignored. Businesses that make up the backbone of the UK economy are rightly concerned about the consequences of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, which Parliament failed to rule out this week due to divisions in Labour and the Conservatives.

Theresa May’s Brexit won’t work for businesses. The CBI know, just as Liberal Democrats do, that the Prime Minister will have a hard time getting agreement from the EU. It feels more like a last hurrah to save the Tory party than anything in the national interest.

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 unequivocally fight for.

Travel insurance not guaranteed with no-deal Brexit. Lib Dem Press Release 29th January

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.