The government has agreed to drop key measures to tackle tax avoidance from the Finance Bill following a deal with the opposition.
These include tougher penalties for tax evasion, changes to prevent people avoiding inheritance tax through offshore trusts and the axing of permanent non-dom status.
Liberal Democrat MP and Public Accounts Committee member John Pugh said:
"Many voters will be shocked that measures to crack down on tax avoiders are being quietly dropped.
“It seems promises to crack down on tax avoidance after the Panama Paper leaks were nothing but hot air.
“This makes a mockery of Theresa May’s claim to be delivering for the many not the few.
"Meanwhile Labour is failing in its job to hold this government to account.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of the country and ensure Britain has a proper opposition."
Today (Thursday) in Cambridge Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has blasted Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer, and said that any EU citizen that leaves the UK “should be levelled at their door”.
“Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer will be remembered as the two people who have failed Britain in its hour of need.
“EU citizens, doctors, nurses and care workers feel that the place they moved to, the place they have made their home, has changed since Brexit. The Liberal Democrats went through the lobbies time after time to protect places like Cambridge and EU citizens and their rights. But Labour sat on their hands and shamefully abstained.
“Brexit has exposed Labour as a party that refuses to step up when they could make a difference.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of our country. On one side it’s the Tories, UKIP and Labour- skipping hand in hand towards Hard Brexit. On the other side it’s the Liberal Democrats.
“Labour have run out of ideas, run out of plans for an open and tolerant country, and that’s why they must be run out of this city. Cambridge now has the chance to stand united against hard Brexit - they must turn again to the Liberal Democrats.”
The government's failure to tackle lack of access to GPs and ambulance delays have been criticised in two scathing reports by the Public Accounts Committee today (Thursday 27 April).
The first report finds that depite the government’s target to recruit 5,000 more GPs, the overall number of GPs has reduced in the last year and problems with staff retention have continued.
Meanwhile just 58% of patient transfers were completed within 15 minutes in 2015–16, compared to 80% in 2010–11.
Liberal Democrat MP and Public Accounts Committee member John Pugh commented:
"This is a damning indictment of this government's record on the NHS, which has left patients suffering from longer waits for GP appointments and severe ambulance delays.
"Targets to recruit more GPs and ambulance staff have been woefully missed.
"Soaring numbers of people are unable to get GP appointments when they need one, heaping yet more pressure on A&Es already struggling to cope with rising demand.
"It is a catastrophic legacy that is only set to get worse as the Conservative's hard Brexit agenda blows a hole in the public finances.
"The Liberal Democrats are the only party prepared to take tough decisions to secure the future of the NHS and social care, including raising taxes to pay for the services patients deserve."
Today (Wednesday) Tim Farron will make a bold pitch to business and tell them they are ‘funding their own funeral’ if they continue to back and fund the Conservative Party. Tim is pitching the Liberal Democrats as the new party of business.
On a visit to St Albans, a Conservative held seat, Tim Farron will say:
“My message to business is this – dump the Tories. Every penny you give them will hurt you; you are funding your own funeral. The success of British business matters. Strong British businesses mean more jobs and a stronger society.
“With this disastrous hard Brexit the government is hurting businesses, both big and small, costing jobs and hitting families. All this means fewer jobs, higher prices and spiralling costs of things like fuel. This is a Brexit squeeze affecting millions of people.
“I say, clearly, to businesses, you must come and back the Liberal Democrats – this is not a moment for hiding and hoping things change. You need to desert the Tories.
“The Single Market matters – it's vital to our economy.
“This election is a chance to change Britain’s future.
“While the Tories run headlong towards a Hard Brexit and Labour cheers them on, only the Liberal Democrats are standing up for a Britain that is Open, Tolerant and United.”
Labour has failed to select a candidate in Lewes with the general election just weeks away. The news has been revealed by the Liberal Democrats, who say that it shows Labour has “given up”, even in some of its former strongholds.
There are over 340 constituencies Labour has still not selected for in England, including Lewes in East Sussex.
In contrast the Liberal Democrats have selected 92% of their candidates in England.
Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell said:
"It seems that Labour have simply given up on places like Lewes.
"This election is now clearly a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives".
"Labour claimed to be prepared for a general election, but many of their approved candidates are simply refusing to run under Jeremy Corbyn's banner.
"And who can blame them? They see a leader who is ineffective and a party that is too divided to stand up for local people.
"Every government needs to be held to account and the Liberal Democrats are rapidly emerging as the real voice of opposition.
“If you want to ensure our country has a real opposition, the Liberal Democrats are the only choice in Lewes."
The drinks company Diageo has announced plans to cut over 100 jobs in Scotland because of concerns over Brexit, it was reported today, including 70 redundancies in Fife and 35 near Glasgow.
Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scotttish Liberal Democrats and MSP for North East Fife, commented:
"This is the cold sober reality of a hard Conservative Brexit. Diageo is a huge employer in parts of Fife and Glasgow that needs these jobs.
"The Conservatives need to explain to the workers at these plants why they soon won't be getting a wage at the end of the month.
"Liberal Democrats are giving the voters in the general election a choice to change the direction of the country. We can turn back from the economic consequences of Brexit if we choose."
Lewes has been selected by pro-European groups as one of the top 20 target seats in which voters should vote tactically to oppose a hard Brexit.
Open Britain, European Movement and Britain in Europe, which between them have 600,000 activists, havedrawn up a hitlist of 20 seats where they hope to eject pro-Brexit MPs. This includes Lewes, where Maria Caulfield supported Brexit despite the constituency voting to Remain.
Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news. As the main challengers they aim to mount a strong local campaign to oppose the Conservative government’s hard Brexit stand.
Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell commented:
“I am delighted that the country’s top pro-European groups have thrown their weight behind my campaign.
“The hard Brexit we are heading for poses a huge threat to people’s livelihoods in East Sussex, from local businesses to farmers.
“People here voted narrowly to remain, and many did not vote for the hard Brexit Theresa May has chosen. They deserve an MP who will stand up for what they believe in.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of the country. Every Liberal Democrat vote in Lewes is a challenge to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda.
“If you want Britain to remain in the EU, we are the only party offering a way to do that; through a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal with remain as an option.”
Responding to reports ministers have urged Theresa May to sideline Boris Johnson from the election campaign, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake commented:
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, has today published his annual assessment of policing in England and Wales. Police are being used as the first resort/emergency response in cases of mental ill-health because of cuts to mental health services. Commenting, Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said:
“It is an absolute travesty that we are still seeing police, rather than healthcare professionals, responding when people experience a mental health crisis. These are people suffering from an illness, they are not criminals and should never be made to feel that way. Just imagine how much additional worry and distress this causes to people when they are already in a very vulnerable position.
“As a Health Minister in the last Government, I was proud to introduce the Crisis Care Concordat which made important progress in cutting the number of people detained inappropriately in police cells because they are experiencing a mental health crisis - but unless mental health services have the resources and staff that they desperately need, I fear we will not be able to bring this damaging practice to an end.
“Of course sometimes it is inevitable that police officers will be first on the scene of a crisis, and where this happens, they must be given support to work closely with mental health services to ensure we get people the help they need, as quickly as possible.”
Leaked negotiating guidelines, set to be approved at a special summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Saturday, show that EU governments have toughened up their Brexit negotiating position.
The news comes as Theresa May and David Davis prepare to meet with Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier this evening. It has emerged that EU governments will insist that any post-Brexit relationship must fully respect EU rules after Brexit.
Brussels will also demand all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years acquire permanent residence rights. In light of the widely reported problems encountered by EU nationals legally seeking permanent residency, Brussels will demand that Home Office application procedures are streamlined.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake commented:
"The tougher position taken by the EU shows the scale of the diplomatic challenge this chaotic, hard Brexit government now faces.
“It’s shameful that our friends and allies in Europe feel they have to step in to demand our country treats EU nationals, who contribute so much to our society, with the respect they deserve.
“These draft guidelines show that, far from taking back control, Brexit will in reality mean accepting the EU’s rules without having a say over them.
“Theresa May has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the Single Market before she has even tried to negotiate.
“It is still possible for the British people to stop a Hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June, and the people must have their say over what comes next.”