The Liberal Democrats, alongside Labour, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green party have written to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, asking for his consideration of a motion that the Government have held Parliament in contempt.
The Government have failed to provide parliamentarians with the 'final and full advice provided by the Attorney General to the Cabinet concerning the terms of any withdrawal agreement' that was requested by the House on the 13th November, and was not opposed by the Government.
Commenting on the letter that has been sent to the Speaker, co-signatory of the letter, and Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:
"The Attorney General, in his most bombastic court-room manner has shown Parliament two learned fingers and refused to comply with Parliament's request to publish the full legal advice.
"This must constitute contempt of Parliament which will be pursued by all legal means.
"The Liberal Democrats demand better than this sorry mess of a Government."
Councillor Vic Ient at Station Street, Lewes, pollution bottle neck
Councillor Vic Ient, Liberal Democrat environmental spokesperson at Lewes District Council, berated the Conservatives at the Full Council meeting this week for not implementing a set of motions designed to deal with air pollution from the Council's July council meeting. He said after the meeting "I checked on the progress to implement the motions passed over 4 ½ months ago and sadly nothing seems to have been done. If the Conservatives are serious about tackling air pollution, then they should have been ordering new air monitoring stations and the 'cut engine pollution' signs already".
Motions passed in July included agreement on the purchase of 2 new air monitoring stations, a bid to the government to request financial support to implement air quality programmes including: expanding the number of NOx tubes throughout the district especially near schools and to undertake a publicity campaign to help reduce CO2 and other polluting emissions into the atmosphere.
There was further debate on tackling air pollution when Councillor Olivia Honeyman (Seaford South) reminded councillors at the meeting that the air monitoring station at Newhaven was still out of service after over 18 months. She asked the Leader of the Council to ensure that swift action was taken to bring the station back into operation. Cllr Steve Saunders (Newhaven Valley) said during the debate on a campaign to persuade drivers to switch off their engines near schools "we need permanent signs not just the temporary ones". He asked the Conservative controlled council to introduce permanent signs not only at schools but in key places where there is regular traffic congestion. Cllr Steve Saunders continued, "Newhaven suffers from very heavy traffic pollution on the A259 ring road, the worst in the district. We need permanent signs here to ask drivers to switch off their engines whilst stationary".
Liberal Democrats on Lewes District Council say a taskforce must be formed to consider how Newhaven Port will be affected if the Brexit chaos continues.
They have presented a motion for debate at Monday’s full council meeting.
Councillor Vic Ient (Kingston and Ouse Valley West) said “We are presenting a motion to try and force the authorities to take action.
“Chaos seems to be the only word one can use for the present state of the government.
“I, like the majority of people in the Lewes constituency, wanted to stay in the EU and after months of wrangling we seem no further forward as to what the Brexiters want.
“I hope we have a People’s vote and this country draws back from the brink.
“But failing all of this, we must prepare for the worst-case situation and investigate the risks for the port of Newhaven and act responsibly on behalf of the thousands of residents who may be affected.
“Is there a plan to deal with the massive number of lorries which may back-up in the case of there being customs difficulties?
“The only way into Newhaven is via the A26 for HGVs.
“Even a small delay could cause major problems.
“If there are jams, how will the government and the county council keep traffic flowing for local businesses and residents?
“Vehicles will try and find alternative routes along the A259 and through my own council ward along the C7 between Lewes and Newhaven.
“We need joint action and we are calling for a taskforce to be set up so that risks and mitigating actions can be prepared in advance.”
Sarah Osborne, leader of the Liberal Democrats at Lewes District Council, said: “We must get ready for all eventualities.”
LibDem councillors responded forcefully:
Philip Daniel: “The Conservative government has been in charge for the last decade and the Conservatives have been running East Sussex County Council for some 20 years. It is nonsense for Cllr Glazier to try to duck the responsibility for these appalling proposals.”
David Tutt: “The so-called core offer ... will leave residents with less than the basic level of key services. The proposals being considered include further cuts to children’s services, adult social care and highways that are simply unacceptable.”
An excellent performance by LibDem Councillor Sarah Osborne on the ITV programme 'Last Word'. Selected highlights:
- the EU (5.05)
- ESCC cuts (11.00)
- cross questioning the Tories on local government financing and cuts (15.00)
- standards in public life (18.30)
- she welcomes the introduction of restrictions on gambling machines (21.58)
The Liberal Democrats have today announced they will back a cross-party amendment to the Finance Bill to ensure the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals are introduced within six months.
Speaking ahead of the vote next week, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:
“A few months ago I was approached by a mother who was distraught after her son had committed suicide as a result of distress caused by debts that had accrued from compulsive gambling.
“There is now a network of grieving relatives who have been brought together by the same dreadful experience. Like them, I want the NHS to recognise gambling addiction as a serious mental health condition. Preventive action is also needed including urgent steps to curb some of the more exploitative practices like high stake fixed-odds betting terminals.
“I and the Liberal Democrats will therefore work with others to stop these abusive practices and introduce a crackdown as promised. The Government has been utterly craven in giving in to lobbying from the industry and must now back the cross-party amendment or face defeat.”
Liberal Democrat Culture, Media & Sport Spokesperson in the House of Commons, Christine Jardine, added:
“Further delays are causing more and more vulnerable people to face financial stress, mental health problems and worse.
“It doesn’t need to be this way. Liberal Democrats demand better, which is why we have been calling for the maximum stake to be reduced to £2 for nearly a decade.
“The Tories have already taken too long to act, now they are kicking it into the long grass. It simply isn’t good enough.”
Responding to the news that NHS Digital has withdrawn from its immigration data-sharing arrangement with the Home Office, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“The Home Office should never have been forcing NHS staff to supply patients’ data in the first place. Doctors and nurses’ time should be spent providing healthcare to those who need it, not acting as border guards in Theresa May’s hostile environment.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will completely scrap the Tories’ hostile environment and instead invest in an accountable, intelligence-led Border Force to prevent people entering the country illegally and quickly identify those who overstay their visas.
“That way we can secure our borders and rebuild trust in the immigration system, while leaving NHS workers to focus on their jobs.”
We're with Ed Davey on the rights of EU citizens:
He says: "I am furious.
The government have been telling EU citizens for months that they will be able to stay in the UK, and keep their rights as settled citizens if we leave the EU.
But it has now emerged that these are empty words.
It seems that there are no provisions in place for employers to determine when an EU citizen came to the UK – and therefore, whether they are able to employ them.
The Conservatives’ hostile environment checks have already wreaked havoc on the lives of many members from the Windrush generation - and others.
And in just five months, these Conservative Ministers seem happy to do it all over again, and destroy the lives of EU citizens who have every right to be in the UK.
The Government’s incompetence in planning for Brexit has real world consequences.
If this makes you angry too, join our campaign.
The government must act now to guarantee that European citizens settled in the UK the right to stay here.
Sign this petition now to say you support EU citizens' right to stay.
Leading figures from opposition parties will meet Michel Barnier in Brussels today [Thursday] to say the UK must remain within the Single Market and the Customs Union.
The campaign to resolve Brexit through a People’s Vote will also be discussed. The Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have all said they would support the public to have the final say on any Brexit deal in a vote in the House of Commons.
Last weekend saw hundreds of thousands of people march in London for the People’s Vote and polling shows the option is increasingly the preferred choice across the UK.
The group will open a cross-party line of communication to the European Commission, so that officials are aware of Parliamentary progress made on securing the People’s Vote, while continuing to make the case for the UK to stay within the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Those attending the meeting with Barnier will be: Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats; Ian Blackford, Westminster Leader of the SNP; Liz Saville Roberts, Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru; and Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar.
Vince Cable said:
“Our ‘unholy alliance’ has provided a sensible counterpoint to the hard-line Brexiteers who have pushed the Conservatives and Labour’s frontbench into senseless and fudged positions. It is vital that Michel Barnier and the European Commission know that there is another view in Parliament, one that has cross-party support and that can get the EU and the UK out of this mess.
“I will also tell Michel Barnier that there are also brave Conservative and Labour rebels involved in leading this fight to give the people a final say. As a result, there is now tremendous Parliamentary and public pressure to hold that vote.”
Liz Saville Roberts said:
“Plaid Cymru will not stand by and allow the British Government, along with their collaborators in the Labour party, to drag Wales out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Negotiations between the Prime Minister and Michel Barnier have reached another embarrassing stalemate. The only realistic option available to us is to extend Article 50 and take the Withdrawal Agreement to a People’s Vote.
“Leaving the key European economic frameworks will wipe £5 billion off the Welsh economy. In making the case for a People’s Vote, I will impress upon the Chief EU Negotiator the full gravity of the impact of Brexit on Wales. The British Government has never had Wales’s best interest at heart.”
Ian Blackford said:
“While the UK Government clearly still has no plan to break the Brexit impasse, and Labour fail to act as an effective opposition, it has been left to the 'unofficial opposition' to speak up for a deal that would protect jobs and livelihoods. I am grateful to Mr Barnier for meeting with us.
“Any Brexit deal that falls short of staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union will not get through Parliament. It’s time for Theresa May to drop the jargon, quit playing games and act to protect our economic future.”
Molly Scott Cato said:
"There is now Parliamentary paralysis on Brexit. The Chequers plan is dead, but neither is there support for alternative versions of Brexit being driven by a Brexit syndicate of far-right think tanks.
"It is clear the only way out of this deadlock is to hand the process back to the people. Last weekend 700,000 people marched in support of the People's Vote; more than the combined membership of the Tories and Labour. The momentum behind this idea can no longer be ignored; it now looks unstoppable."
In a pre-Budget speech to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable called for a series of reforms to Universal Credit.
These include the reversal of cuts to the work allowance, worth around £3bn a year, and ending the benefits freeze a year early.
"The problems stem from conflicting objectives: providing minimum family income; providing incentives to work; simplification; and saving money. Simplification, saving money and work incentives have taken precedence over the first, crucial, priority.
"Practical problems have been ignored creating real hardship, payment delays in the switchover, penalties for the self-employed; use of a single bank account for divided families; barriers to work from lack of childcare; monthly payments for those on weekly or casual wages; technical complexities in establishing online payment; and the use of Universal Credit to facilitate debt collection...
"[But] the fact that UC is becoming loathed and is being implemented incompetently and harshly does not invalidate the reasoning behind it. I strongly repudiate the Labour Party’s suggestion that Universal Credit should be scrapped without being clear what the replacement is: a classic case of soundbites taking precedence over thought-through policies ."