This is a Climate Emergency, Dirty Air Knows no Borders!

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Following her speech in the European Parliament last month, Judith Bunting MEP highlights the case for calling a Climate Emergency.

“Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature deaths. We need to work smarter, we have the technology to do this and we should embrace that.”

The Government has passed a Net-Zero target for Carbon emissions by 2050 whilst also making chaotic decisions that will undermine this target. They have slashed subsidies for solar power, banned the cheapest form of renewable onshore wind energy generation and ended the ‘Green Deal’, which aimed to improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes. As well as these cuts, there is a policy of pursuing fracking to access fossil fuels throughout Britain, including areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Weald Basin in the South Downs covering Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, to further compound their policy of supporting expanding the airport provision in one of busiest Airports in Europe, London Heathrow.

TrafficJudith continues, “Unfortunately Dirty Air knows no borders, the problems in the South East will affect the nearby areas of the country and impact the health of the world. We can do better than this and the South East deserves better.”

Judith Bunting calls for a stop to meaningless targets on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and a reversal of the cuts to incentivise a change of approach for each and every citizen. Instead we should adopt meaningful policies, which can make a difference to climate change from day one.

Air pollution from carsThe Liberal Democrats demand better and have set out a way of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We are fighting for a net-zero EU by 2050 across the 28 member states of the European Union. Dealing with carbon emissions will not only deal with the climate emergency but cut air-pollution, reduce fuel poverty and create thousands of jobs in the renewables sector. These targets can be positive for our health, our economy and the planet.

An eventful week in politics- MEP Life – week 5

MEP Life

They say a week is a long time in politics, well they are not wrong!! From the London march through to two new party leaders, this week was super-eventful. Thanks to all who attended the March for Change in London, the many photos and videos from the day are just brilliant. We must keep up the pressure and be vocal of our need to Stop Brexit.

Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal DemocratsMonday saw the Liberal Democrat leadership announcement, with Jo Swinson elected as the first female leader of the party. Jo gave a barnstormer of a speech that was powerful and motivating and she was clear: “I stand here as a candidate for Prime Minister”. 
And if you have any doubts about how realistic this is, take a look at the latest You Gov polls on Westminster voting intention.

Jo’s election continues the LibDem surge and we have seen well over 20,000 new members join us after our successes in both local and European elections. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to join us. This is the fightback for liberal Britain.

Judith Bunting officeArriving back in Brussels I have recorded another MEP Life podcast with Caroline Voaden, where we discussed everything from travel, pollution, elections, and the heatwave. In Brussels, this was a week of committee work. Committee weeks come twice a month and are where the real legislative and policy work gets done. On the Education and Culture committee, the Renew team is currently campaigning to increase the budget for Creative Europe, Erasmus Plus and other educational schemes by 10%. On the Industry and Science committee, I was involved in proposing a visit to the fascinating Chalk River Research Facility in Canada, where they do a lot of good work from which I believe the EU could learn, The suggestion was welcomed and the visit may well go ahead in 2020. 

Outside of committees, our MEP delegation joined colleagues in co-signing a letter to the Polish Prime Minister in response to the attacks on the Pride March in Bialystok, and distribution of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers. This goes against the Liberal Democrats fundamental principle of a ‘free, fair and open society’. We firmly believe in tolerance, respect, and anti-discrimination for all.

We also met with the group ‘British in Europe’ and counterpart campaigners, the3million, to talk over what will happen to the 1.3 million Brits currently living in Europe and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK if Boris Johnson goes ahead with a no deal Brexit. These citizens are our friends, family and neighbours. They set up cross-border families and working lives in good faith, while no one had any thought of the UK leaving Europe. If our government chooses to break that contract, they should receive special dispensation to live as Europeans for the foreseeable future. We also discussed the ‘Denied my vote’ movement is raising money to take the UK government to court over the electoral chaos which surrounded the most recent European elections. They have the lawyers and a great case, now they need the cash.

This week saw the launch of my monthly newsletter, you can sign up here. Other ways to keep in touch are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Podcast, Website, or email.

New Liberal Democrat Leader Announced

Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Today we announced Jo Swinson as the first female leader of the Liberal Democrats. Her acceptance speech was both powerful and motivating, reminding us that Liberalism is alive and thriving and the UK’s future lies in the European Union.  

Judith was at the announcement in London today and comments that “Jo Swinson gave a terrific speech. She will make a fantastic leader and is clearly ready to lead the party to a strong and successful future. Not only is Jo now the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, but she is ready to lead our country as a future Prime Minster of a fine and liberal Britain.”

Our first priority must be, of course, stopping Brexit, and as our new leader, Jo has vowed that this is at the top of her agenda. Brexit in any form is a disaster for our country and we’ll do everything in our power to stop it. Our country needs a strong, liberal movement more than ever, and that is what we are need to build together. 

Judith Bunting continued, “We have a lot to thank Vince Cable for. His ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ leadership steered the Liberal Democrats to many excellent council victories across the country and won 16 MEP seats in Europe. Under Jo, we will take forward the Stop Brexit movement until we win a People’s Vote.”

Demand better for education

The Education Select Committee report, published today, calls on the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges. Sitting on the Education and Culture committee, I have been horrified over the past few years by the way that the Conservative government has cut funding for schools and colleges to the bone. Funding levels have failed to keep up with spiralling costs and increased pupil numbers. 

Representing the South East of England in the European Union, I wholeheartedly support the cross party call for the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges.

Teachers have been forced to buy resources out of their own pockets, teaching assistants have been let go, and many schools have been forced to shut their doors early. Schools report not having enough funding to pay for textbooks, stationery and science equipment. 

Today’s report shows that MPs across all parties are not prepared to see our schools and colleges face years of continued uncertainty. Yet this is exactly what the Conservative Government has created. They have seemingly scrapped an announcement on school funding planned for this week, and have not yet told teachers how much they will be paid next year. 

As Liberal Democrats, we demand better for our children and teachers. That is why we are campaigning for an emergency cash injection into our schools and colleges, so that they have the resources teachers need to teach and pupils need to learn.

Judith joins calls to halt Japanese commercial whaling

Judith Bunting MEP

Newly elected Liberal Democrat MEP Judith Bunting, has today signed a letter to the Japanese Ambassador to the European Union, expressing her deep disappointment and revulsion at his Government’s decision to return to commercial whaling this month. The entire LDEPP group has co-signed the letter demanding a reversal of this decision, which follows on from Japan’s departure from the International Whaling Commission at the end of June.

Speaking earlier today, Judith Bunting MEP for South East England said:

Judith Bunting MEP“I am saddened and highly disappointed by the decision of the Government of Japan to return to commercial whaling, following their departure from the International Whaling Commission. Whales are killed with exploding harpoons, some requiring a second shot, or a round of rifle fire. Some whales suffer for up to 25 minutes before they finally die. There is no need for commercial whaling, it is a cruel trade that provides nothing that the world really needs.”

Under the recently signed EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the EU and Japan both committed themselves to conserving and sustainably managing natural resources and addressing biodiversity. In the context of this agreement, the strongly worded diplomatic letter co – signed by the entire Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party, calls on Japan to review its whaling policy.

Judith shares: “The horrific and haunting scenes of bloodied whales are an outrage. In a changing international order, Japan and the European Union have rightly built a close relationship, but as close friends it is time to have a frank discussion about these worrying developments. I am determined to use my new role to leverage Britain’s influence as part of the world’s largest trading bloc to fight for positive environmental action. We do not need to place any more animals on the endangered species list.”

Letter_Voaden_Ambassador Kazuo KODAMA signatures[1]

Sentiment, stunts and a serious point made in Strasbourg

The European Parliament in Strasbourg re-opened today. It was a truly emotional and historic occasion. The European elections were not supposed to happen, and we now have 16 Liberal Democrat MEPS taking their seats.

At the opening session, all 16 of us took the opportunity to make our political point, wearing bright ‘Stop Brexit’ t-shirts as we walked into the huge, impressive Plenary Chamber. This is serious. Now we have your attention –  we have got to #StopBrexit. We should not plough on with a bad idea simply to try and save the Conservative party. Brexit is not good for Britain, not good for jobs, not good for our children, and not good for our future.

In the Chamber, we stood for the EU’s anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which was accompanied by a saxophone quartet. This was a wonderful moment, and it is worth considering the lyrics of this piece:

Your magic binds again
What convention strictly divides. 
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.

Britain belongs in a cooperative union with our nearest neighbours. For the sake of peace, security, trade, jobs and a positive future for our children. If you agree, however you have voted in the past, you are welcome to join our campaign to keep Britain in Europe.

Week 1- New faces, new places

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks from being at the count at the end of May through to this week, when Parliament opens.

The first day in Brussels I seemed to be continually lost, but everybody from the ushers to the civil servants took time to help. Everyone has been so friendly. Almost every official  has quietly said something along the lines of, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but we are all very pleased to see the Liberal Democrats back in Europe.” No one here wants Brexit to happen – and for all the right reasons.

This week has been dominated by final preparations and organisation before the European Parliament sits, when, alongside my fifteen colleagues from across the UK, I officially take my seat. We have received our committee allocations, and I am delighted to announce that I have been selected to sit on the European Parliament’s Committee for Education and Culture.

 

I have attended a number of Renew Europe group meetings looking at policy and discussing a framework document. I also took the opportunity to attend a briefing session on Tuesday looking at the latest research in energy storage to promote the use of renewable energy for the grid and for vehicles, and also how better energy storage can help us meet the EU energy and climate goals. 

This is a critical subject for future research. Whilst worldwide energy use overall is predicted to decrease, electricity use is predicted to double! The EU has set an ambitious, binding target of 32% for renewable energy sources in the EU’s energy mix by 2030, it is now up to member states to implement this.

Looking at education and culture, we learned on Thursday that new MEPs have an opportunity to propose pilot projects to the commission, but the deadline is tight. Me and my team are planning to propose a scheme to promote and retain girls’ interest in science and engineering. This is just one of the ways in which those you elected can help to guide the work of the commission.

Renew Europe, as a group, met to discuss our position document to lay out our ideas and intentions to the European Council and the Commission. It is a real honour to be sitting with, working and voting with so many well-intentioned, like-minded people.

This first parliamentary session in Strasbourg begins next week. People tell me that the Parliament building is similar to the Galactic Senate Chamber in Star Wars, I will let you know!

Rounding off my week, back in the UK, I had the privilege of being shown around the breath-taking grounds at Brookwood Military Cemetery to mark Armed Forces Day, and in West Berkshire attending a session discussing how to be your child’s first science teacher.

 

Armed Forces Day remembered at Brookwood Military Cemetery

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the open day of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) at Brookwood Military Cemetery, near Woking.

Showing me around the site historian Lynelle Howson told me first-hand about the work of the CWGC and their determination to treat every deceased soldier as an equal. Headstones are of equal size and shape, no matter rank or regiment.

Only when you get close can you make out personal details such as religion, regiment, names, and ages. Some headstones include quotations, chosen by the soldier’s family. Walking along a row of headstones for young men who died together, aged 19, 20 and 21 years … well, what can I say?

The CWGC cares for 1.7 million casualties of the first and second world war, from Britain and the Commonwealth, in over 150 countries and territories across 23,000 locations.

The largest CWGC cemetery in the UK, Brookwood contains the graves of over 1,600 servicemen of the British Empire in the First World War and over 3,470 from the Second World War.

It is a fascinating, stunning reminder of the sacrifices made for us in the first and second world wars. The men and women resting here are well looked after.


HE WILL NOT AGE
HIS SONG IS SUNG
AND HE REMAINS
FOREVER YOUNG.

(From the grave of J.V.Eliis,
Canadian navigator, age 26)

 

Photo credit to Megan Maltby

It’s not too late to Stop Brexit

Judith Bunting - Stop Brexit rally Brussels Pro Europa

Addressing the Pro Europa Stop Brexit rally in Brussels, Judith Bunting MEP has called on people to work together to #StopBrexit and save the future of the UK. 

How can the UK survive Brexit? ‘One of my most fundamental worries is the survival of the UK. My country, our country. I am so angry to think of how our country could be ripped apart. The Irish backstop issue is a mess. Scotland is likely to hold a second referendum and will break away from the UK.’

The real damage here is that we are seeing private interest taking down a nation. When you look at the involvement of Cambridge Analytica, and listen to the TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr, where she discusses Facebook’s role in Brexit and the threat to democracy, the threat is very real.

Stop Brexit RallyMy focus to stay in Europe has developed from my personal focus of environmental protection to the protection of small businesses.’ Small and medium sized businesses accounted for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK, and 60% of all private sector employment. 

While that figure ignores public sector employees, it does tell you that small businesses are critical to us all and they are being seriously damaged by Brexit.

If we want to #StopBrexit, we need to work together. Our power is our networks. Mainstream media are not going to help us in this. We must continue talking with family and friends who voted leave to build on the growing number of people who have already changed their minds. 

Support for a people’s vote is growing with every political event. A people’s vote, a final say is the only answer. We must work together to Stop Brexit.

Stop Brexit rally in Brussels

 

Judith Bunting MEP joins group in call for urgent intervention over electoral chaos – #deniedmyvote

Newly elected MEP, Judith Bunting, has added her name to the cross-party group of MEPS who have written to the Venice Commission, (the European Commission for Democracy through Law), asking for an urgent intervention into declining democratic standards in the UK. 

Swathes of people who live and work in the United Kingdom were denied their right to have their say in the recent European Elections, and this denial of democracy cannot go unnoticed. 

Judith Bunting MEP says: “The problems faced by EU citizens in the recent Euro Elections, along with declining democratic standards that we’ve seen recently in the UK, is concerning. I am glad to join with this cross-party group of UK MEPs to deliver this letter to asking the Venice Commission urgently to investigate.”

 

 

The five key points for inquiry are:

  • Breach of spending rules and data-protection laws during the EU referendum in June 2016.
  • Exclusion of non-UK EU citizens residing in the UK from the franchise for the EU referendum.
  • The UK government’s approach to the recent European Elections, involving delayed planning resulting in increased pressure on electoral services departments of local authorities.
  • The disenfranchisement of UK citizens resident in other EU countries whose postal votes did not arrive in time.
  • The disenfranchisement of non-UK EU citizens due to the newly introduced two-step registration process. 

The group of MEPs, is not convinced that our existing government has either the will or the capacity to address these issues. This cross party action, led by Molly Scott Cato MEP and Catherine Bearder MEP, highlights that electoral integrity must come before any party politics.