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.”
The Liberal Democrats have criticised Conservative MPs who voted Remain but have now left Open Britain.
Alistair Carmichael MP, who sits on the Brexit committee, said:
“This shows that there are no sensible Conservative MPs left. They are all Brexiteers now.
“The Conservative Party has now ganged up behind a hard Brexit.
“Theresa May has chosen to leave the single market and even the small band of Conservative MPs who recognised how economically damaging this will be have caved in.
“They had a choice to put their country before their party, but they chose to put their party first.
“Open Britain is the successor to Stronger In that had the bulk of the Conservative high command behind it. It shows how far the Conservative Party has veered to the right that it is no longer supported by a single Conservative MP.
“Anyone who opposes a hard Brexit must vote Liberal Democrat to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.”
Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to news that ministers are defending in the High Court on Thursday their decision not to release a crucial clean air plan for the UK to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.
Ed Davey, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
“Ministers are having to be dragged kicking and screaming to the High Court at vast expense to the public purse so that they can keep the public in the dark about how bad air is killing people in our towns and cities.
“This is rapidly developing into a scandal as the government seeks to keep this devastating report under wraps until after the election. The government can’t use the courts to gag the truth when peoples’ heath is at stake. My message is simple: drop the court case, do the right thing, publish the report.”
Responding to Labour's plans to increase pay for NHS staff by reversing corporation tax cuts, the Liberal Democrats have identified ten examples where Labour have already pledged to spend this money elsewhere.
These include bringing back the educational maintenance allowance, paying for additional teachers, nurses and police, and funding social care.
The Liberal Democrat General Election campaign has got off to a flying start as new members have seen the party double in size since May 2015.
In the short time since the snap General Election was announced the Liberal Democrats have gained over 2,500 new members.
Commenting on the surge Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:
“This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and thousands are joining our fight.
“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.
"Thousands of people up and down the country are joining the Liberal Democrats so that we can send a message to Theresa May and the Conservative Brexit Government that we do not want a hard Brexit.
“In this General Election it is clear that only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
Over 2258 10 year olds in East Sussex are obese, according to government data released today.
Despite the Conservative’s publication last year of a Childhood Obesity Plan, over a third of 10 year olds in England are overweight, and one in five classed as obese.
Public Health England regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges for the 21st century. Obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of developing various health problems, and are also more likely to become obese adults.
Liberal Democrat Lewes Candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell commented:
“The failure of Conservatives to properly tackle childhood obesity is carelessly risking the lives of 2258 of children in East Sussex.
“We cannot allow another five years to go by without proper steps being taken to address this problem. Liberal Democrats know it is time to get tough on advertisers and food manufacturers, to protect the future of kids in East Sussex.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only real opposition to this hard right Conservative government.”
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Norman Lamb MP, added:
“This should be a wake-up call to the Government that their approach to public health has been nothing short of disastrous.
“Councils' public health budgets have been cut and the Conservative’s paltry Childhood Obesity Strategy lacked concrete measures to tackle advertising of junk food to children and reduce levels of sugar in food.
“Without real action to tackle ill-health in children the Government are inexcusably letting down our young people, and harming their wellbeing and life chances”.
Ed Davey, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has accused the government of engaging in a “politically dubious” act announcing the controversial sale of the Green Investment Bank to an Australian bank in a cut price deal.
Ed Davey, who is seeking the Lib Dem nomination for his former seat of Kingston and Surbiton, likened the £2.3bn agreement to “selling off the family silver”:
Ed Davey said:
“Selling the Green Investment Bank is environmentally irresponsible, and on the eve of an election is politically dubious. The government clearly hopes to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.
“The Toxic Tories are getting closer to Donald Trump every day and their record on renewable energy since 2015 has been pathetic. Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting for the environment.”
The Liberal Democrats have gained 8,000 new members in the two days since Theresa May called a snap election.
The increase in members is the fastest rise of new membership in the party’s history.
The party now has over 95,000 members, more than double what it was at the time of the last general election.
Commenting, President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton said:
“People are flocking to the Liberal Democrats as we are the only party who are offering effective opposition to this Conservative Brexit government.
“Theresa May: we have the troops for this fight and they are raring to go.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up for an open, tolerant, and united Britain.”
The Lewes Liberal Democrats have written to Maria Caulfield MP urging her to reject Theresa May's hard Brexit manifesto and instead pledge to protect the local economy by keeping Britain in the single market.
Theresa May is expected to include her Brexit negotiating priorities in the Conservative snap election manifesto in an attempt to lock all Conservative candidates into supporting a hard Brexit. These are set to include a pledge to withdraw from the single market, end the free movement of people in the EU and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell has written to Maria Caulfield MP stating they should stand by their principles and sign up to an alternative pro-European platform, including fighting to keep Britain in the single market and defend the right to remain for the 2,536 European citizens living in Lewes.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for (AREA) commented:
"If Lewes signs up to a Hard Brexit manifesto, it would go against everything she says they believe in OR people in this area believe in.
"It would show our local MP is not willing to stand up for our local economy or the many European citizens living here.
"This election is a chance for voters in Lewes to change the direction of our country.
"People here deserve an MP who will stand up for what they believe in, including fighting to prevent a disastrous hard Brexit and keep Britain in the single market.
"Maria Caulfield must make clear where he/she stands on what is the biggest issue of the day.
"The Liberal Democrats are united in saying we will stand up for Britain's place in Europe and to keep our country open, tolerant and united."
Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's comments on class sizes today, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary John Pugh said:
“Jeremy Corbyn is happy to talk the talk, but only the Liberal Democrats have a clear commitment to invest more in our schools and reverse the Tories' devastating cuts.
"We’re clear that money for new schools should be targeted where extra places are needed most - rather than wasting billions on free schools in areas where they’re not needed as this Government is doing.
“The Conservative's disastrous record on education has done untold harm to our schools, teachers and young people across the country - enough is enough.
"The only way to prevent a Conservative majority, to stop more cuts to school budgets and to put an end to divisive plans like reintroducing grammar schools, is to vote Liberal Democrat on 8th June.”