The Liberal Democrats have warned that flaws in the Conservative Government’s EU Settled Status scheme will threaten the rights of EU citizens, including 175 people across Parliament.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey asked “With all their scandals and reputation for inefficiency, how can anyone believe the Home Office will process applications from our 3 million European neighbours, friends, family and colleagues, within just two years?”
“Without documentation, thousands could be abandoned to the Tories’ hostile environment, including members of staff working right at the heart of Parliament.”
The warning comes as the Liberal Democrats reveal through a Freedom of Information request that 175 EU citizens work in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
In total, some 7.4% of the 2,715 members of staff who work in Parliament - passholders ranging from kitchen staff to policy advisers and researchers - are citizens of the European Union.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:
"The Tories’ Brexit chaos has made EU citizens deeply anxious about their future in our country. Many European work colleagues fill vital roles in our NHS, our schools and even across Parliament.
“Frankly, I am lost for words that so many reckless MPs sit in Parliament voting through a Brexit that puts at risk the rights of people they work with on a daily basis - not to mention their own European constituents.
“EU citizens who live and work here deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to stay in the EU with a final say on Brexit.”
The Liberal Democrats have today warned that DEFRA is on “Brexit red alert” as the party reveals the government have hired nearly 3,000 new staff to prepare for the potential fallout.
Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “This is a Conservative Government panic buying because, like farmers up and down the country, they know Brexit will only bring chaos.”
A Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has employed 2,700 new staff to prepare for Brexit.
Of those hired, 320 come from other government departments and 400 from the arms length bodies, such as Natural England.
According to the National Audit Office, DEFRA is one of the government departments “most affected by EU Exit.”
Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:
“Hiring almost 3,000 new staff, particularly when it means taking staff away from the important work they do elsewhere, shows how unprepared Tory Ministers are. It doesn’t need to be this way.
“At a time when Michael Gove should be cleaning up our air, cutting plastic pollution and tackling our biodiversity crisis he is instead scrabbling to reinvent the wheel for things the EU currently help with.
“Liberal Democrats demand better. We should stop the madness of Brexit and instead concentrate on the things that matter. That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for people to be given the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to stay in the EU.”
The Liberal Democrats have today announced their list of MEP candidates in the South East constituency for the European elections on the 23rd May.
The diverse list of candidates includes a current MEP, Councillors and other hard working community activists.
The Liberal Democrats will fight the elections as an unapologetically pro-European Party campaigning hard to stop Brexit and restore Britain’s tarnished reputation in Europe.
Lead MEP candidate for the South East region, Catherine Bearder MEP, said:
“Today we’ve announced a strong, diverse mix of candidates ready to positively represent the South East region in the European Union.”
“We will fight these elections on a clear message: a Liberal Democrat vote is a vote to stop Brexit.”
Antony Hook, Faversham's elected representative on Kent County Council said:
“Liberal Democrats are determined to give a voice to the millions of people who demand better than Brexit Britain.”
“With 16 years’ service as a barrister including with international experience, I believe I am well placed to skilfully represent South East England in Brussels at this critical moment for our country.”
Judith Bunting, Activist and TV producer, from the West Berkshire area, commented:
“If elected, I will work in Europe to reduce Carbon emissions, combat climate change and tackle the cross border crime that plagues our communities. I am committed to stopping Brexit. The Liberal Democrats are the only true party of remain. “
Martin Tod, Hampshire County Councillor & Winchester City Councillor, said today:
“I am sick of seeing footage of Nigel Farage and Dan Hannan spout nonsense in the European Parliament as they betray our national interest. As a Liberal Democrat MEP, I will go back at them, hard.”
“Britain should be leading in Europe, not leaving.”
The Liberal Democrat European list for the South East region
South East (10)
Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran this week spoke at the National Education Union to demand an end to the ‘teaching to the test’ culture by scrapping league tables, Ofsted and high-stakes testing in primary schools.
"The Ofsted brand is fundamentally broken. It has long ago lost the trust of the teaching profession. Which is why I think tinkering around the edges simply isn’t enough. We need a complete overhaul, replacing this inspection scheme altogether.
"So I propose build a system which looks at the culture of a school and focuses on the wellbeing of teachers and pupils, as much as on academic results.
"Where a school is struggling, the system should support that school to improve, not punish it. This system should be led by teachers, for teachers – with peer-to-peer support to help schools where they need to do better."
On league tables:
“Why is it that Government continues to publish state-sanctioned league tables? Why encourage schools to compete so ferociously for the highest number, forgetting their true purpose of improving education for all?
"Choosing a school shouldn’t be like renewing home or car insurance. Schools are so much more than just numbers.
"Gather together and publish parent and teacher feedback from surveys. Ask neighbouring school leaders to look at the quality of pastoral care or the breadth of subjects offered."
On high-stakes testing in primary schools:
“It is high time we ended the unnecessary stress placed on pupils and teachers by high-stakes testing in primary schools. Which is why we should scrap SATs and reception baseline tests altogether.
"With teachers constantly having to focus on these and other tests throughout a child’s life, important parts of the curriculum get pushed to the back of the queue. Rather than preparing students for life, we’re teaching students how to be tested.”
Following the news from Woking, comes the switch from Conservatives to Liberal Democrat of Caroline Neville in Chichester.
Caroline Neville, councillor for Stedham since 2015, will be standing for the Liberal Democrats in this May’s local elections.
She explained her move, saying:
This was an extremely difficult decision. The Liberal Democrats in the District Council are working together to improve the lives of local residents and campaigning on the things that really matter. I felt that by joining the Liberal Democrats I would be better able to make a difference in my ward.
Kate O’Kelly, Liberal Democrat district councillor for Rogate and county councillor for Midhurst, said,
We are delighted to welcome Caroline to our Midhurst team. Caroline supported our work reversing some of the cuts to essential local bus services. She stood up to the out-of-touch council who imposed Velo South and a care home on residents without proper consultation. If re-elected, together we will be able to achieve much more for our residents.
Adrian Moss, Liberal Democrat group leader, said:
We all welcome Caroline as a candidate. In recent months Caroline has been very supportive of our initiatives. She has strong environmental credentials and has a really good reputation of standing up for her residents.
Graham Chrystie, a Pyrford Councillor for 8 years, has left the Conservative party and joined the Liberal Democrats. The move comes on the eve of May’s local elections.
“The Conservative Party in Woking is failing on openness, proper consultation and financial disclosure,” points out Cllr Chrystie. “The Leader of the Council, who has his main residence in Scotland, has curtailed debate within the Conservative group and has proceeded with projects which too often lack transparency,” he continued. “Residents have not been properly consulted on key decisions such as plans for a Pub/Restaurant on West Byfleet Recreation Ground, a site held by the Borough only as a Trustee for local residents.”
Cllr Chrystie is surprised that the Conservative administration seem to be proud of the fact that Woking Borough has borrowed more money than almost any other Local Authority in England. He has seen West Byfleet poorly treated and regrets the sorry state of the partly derelict village centre that is a far cry from the vibrant centre of a few years ago.
“I cannot in conscience remain a member of the Conservative Group,” said Cllr Chrystie. “I now feel I can work more effectively for my ward residents and deliver what local people want, within the Liberal Democrat Group, where I can operate within an established, harmonious and effective team.”
During his time as a councillor, Cllr Chrystie has tirelessly supported the two Neighbourhood Forums which have been registered in his area. He believes that Forums give an important voice to our local communities. He is delighted that there is now a Forum moving ahead in Hoe Valley, with major input from the Lib Dems, and is disappointed that the Conservative administration has apparently delayed progress on this.
Welcoming Cllr Chrystie to the Liberal Democrat Group, Leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker said, “Graham is an excellent councillor for Pyrford. He makes a huge contribution to the Council, planning committee in all aspects, overview and scrutiny committee and financial scrutiny together with the Joint Committee between the Borough and County Council. Beyond the Council he has been a representative on Voluntary Services and Community Transport, where he has worked closely with my deputy Cllr Deborah Hughes. Graham will be a fantastic addition to the Liberal Democrat group, bringing his finance and planning knowledge and his experience with neighbourhood forums”.
Cllr Barker said “Both nationally and locally, the Conservatives are a fiasco and the Lib Dems are the clear alternative. Unlike the Tories, we are willing to take step back and think of the consequences, Local people have the opportunity to change Woking's future on May 2nd by voting for change with the Lib Dems."
Cllr Graham Chrystie is not up for election in 2019. Having topped the ballot paper in 2016 his term of office runs until May 2020.
Yesterday (3rd April) the House of Commons was debating the Mental Capacity Bill which now includes huge concessions the Liberal Democrats secured from the Government.
The Bill aims to reform the process in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 for authorising arrangements enabling the care or treatment of people who lack the capacity to consent, which give rise to a deprivation of their liberty.
The Liberal Democrats led a cross-party effort which secured a huge concession from the Government to remove their exclusionary definition which would have led to people not being protected when deprived of their liberty, and further includes a commitment to review the Code of Practice.
Ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Judith Jolly said:
“This Bill when it was first introduced was one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to be considered by Parliament.
"What was proposed by the Conservative Government would not have fixed any of the issues we see at the moment in authorising care for those who can no longer consent, and instead would have ridden roughshod over their rights.
“Through consistent, hard work over the past few months, the Liberal Democrats have secured key concessions to the Conservative Government’s shoddy legislation. Today’s win removes the Government’s exclusionary definition of deprivation of liberty to protect the rights of those who are not capable of consenting.
“Liberal Democrats demanded better of the Government, and secured better for all those in care.”
On Saturday at our conference, members voted to create an registered supporter’s scheme for the Liberal Democrats.
In the first 24 hours after we launched the scheme, more than 2,000 people joined in almost every single Westminster constituency in Britain.
More supporters are joining every hour.
To help you make the most of these new supporters, the Membership team at HQ have produced some resources for you – which you can access here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/supporters-local-party-guide
The launch pack covers everything you’ll need – from an explanation of what supporters are to template emails and social media graphics to help recruit even more supporters.
It also includes how to find the people that have become registered supporters in your area.
We want to make sure these new supporters feel valued and part of our party – and local parties are best placed to make that happen.
You’ll get the contact details of every single supporter that signs up so you can get them involved in your local campaigns.
So please, help use the resources we’ve provided to help bring more people into our party – especially if you have local elections in May.
And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the news from East Devon, Beverley, Lincolnshire and Somerset in the last fortnight, Councillor Alan Britten in Horsham, West Sussex has switched from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats.
Although a Leave voter in the 2016 referendum, Cllr Alan Britten has since been won over by the Liberal Democrat position on Europe as he explained to the local paper when announcing his switch of party [Mark Pack]:
Alan Britten, who is chairman of North Horsham Parish Council and was first elected to [Horsham District Council] in 2015 in Roffey North, described being impressed by the “cogent, sensible and well-thought out” contributions from opposition members at meetings.
On a number of occasions he has found himself agreeing more with the Lib Dem approach and if he wanted to stand again felt he would have to “think seriously about changing parties”…
While he was in favour of joining the common market, he voted to leave in 2016 as he did not support the increase in political strength of the EU. But now he said: “I always tend to lean towards safety and if we are giving up a safety net for the sake of politics then I can’t subscribe to that … [The Lib Dems] are offering a bit of an alternative and one of the reasons it strikes me is that the Lib Dems are more willing to step back and think of the consequences not just on the EU but other things going on in local government.” [West Sussex County Times]
News broke late last week that it appears East Sussex Music Service instrumental lessons have been saved. I'm absolutely delighted that East Sussex County Council have, finally, made a right decision!
For many months now I and others have been lobbying for them to row back from their initial proposal - to cut this much-loved and important music service.
I’m aware that many of the staff were convinced money could be saved whilst retaining the musical instrument service, because a number had written to me with this information, so we’ve been nonplussed why it appeared that County Hall simply wouldn’t listen to them.
And that ESCC just seemed intent on closure.....
Consequently I wrote again only a few weeks ago, urging Cllr Bob Standley, the Tory Cabinet Lead, to drop his and the Senior Officer’s opposition to the proposals put forward by his own employees. It’s good that he and his colleagues have finally listened to reason, and to the many thousands of members of the public who’ve begged the County Council ‘not’ to shut the much-loved musical tuition service for the county’s children.
It is appalling though that all the other key areas which have been so savagely cut recently by East Sussex County Council such as Firwood House, Home Works, Children's and Adult Social Services, 25% of the counties library network, single parent support, after-school support for disabled children and so much more - could not also have been spared.
Good news for ESMS though. Right decision all round....