We should be in the Commons, not at Conference!

Liberal Democrat members have passed an emergency motion calling on the Conservative Government to recall Parliament immediately so that it can sit until Article 50 is extended.

The motion demands that Boris Johnson asks the Queen to revoke the prorogation order, and states that future decisions about when Parliament sits should be handed to MPs.

It also renews the Liberal Democrats’ campaign for proportional representation in elections and an elected House of Lords. 

Judith Speaking at Education Debate

Judith Bunting said: “We need a new government and a new voting system. It is time to bring in proportional representation to represent properly the views of the British people. 

We have had a great conference, this year, but it is crazy for MPs of all parties to be expending energy in Conference while Westminster sits empty, in the silence of prorogation.”

In the debate, Liberal Democrat members reaffirmed their commitment to a package of reforms that would make the Government more accountable. These include giving a House Business Committee control of the Order Paper and ensuring a new Prime Minister has to win a vote of confidence before they take office.

Speaking after the motion was passed, Liberal Democrat Stop Brexit Spokesman Tom Brake MP said:

“Boris Johnson has shut down democracy and silenced people’s voices in the middle of the biggest crisis in recent history.

“MPs should be in Parliament, holding the Tory Government to account, and stopping them from trying to force the country into a disastrous no-deal Brexit. It is absurd that it may take a Supreme Court ruling to allow MPs to do their job.

“An unelected Prime Minister, with no majority, cannot be allowed to trample over our democracy. That is why Liberal Democrats have passed this motion, calling for parliament to be immediately recalled. Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for the people.”

#StopBrexit- the view from College Green on Wednesday

London on Wednesday; when Boris Johnson announced he was suspending Parliament, was extraordinary. Word spread on social media that people were gathering on College Green at 5:30 but we never imagined the numbers that would gather.

Arriving with my London Lib Dem colleagues, MEPs Dinesh Dhamija, Luisa Porritt and Irina von Wiese (pictured above), it was great to see flags and banners of all parties (except for Conservative) and none. The European Movement was well represented. It was great to see familiar faces from Berkshire for Europe underneath some of the flags.

At College Green, we heard from Green Remainers, Labour Remainers and I took to the stage myself to make the point that Johnson cannot be allowed to stifle the words of the people, the will of the people. He has suspended Parliament in a childish and cowardly fashion to close down debate among our MPs. But THEY represent US. WE voted for THEM. An attack on Parliament is an attack on the people. When Johnson shuts down Parliament, he shuts down the people.

This is not a Britain that I recognise.

The crowd, however, was fantastic. Varied in age, style and political persuasion, but everyone of one mind that we must defend British democracy.

This was a spontaneous Remain Alliance of thousands, marching together from College Green to Parliament Square then Downing Street. Then someone – inspired – called “Take it to the bridge” and the evening with finished with a final surge past the Whitehall War Memorial and on to Westminster Bridge.

The British people cannot let rich rogues like Johnson trash the UK for the sake of ego and American investments.

Stick with us, we can and will #StopBrexit.

Judith Bunting MEP slams Johnson’s move to stifle the voice of the people as ‘childish and cowardly’.

South East reels as Boris Johnson suspends Parliament.

Responding to the reports that the Government is expected to ask the Queen to suspend Parliament from mid-September, Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East, Judith Bunting said:

“Shutting down Parliament is a childish act of cowardice on the part of Boris Johnson.

“He knows the people would not choose a No Deal and that their elected representatives will not allow him to wreak such damage on the country. He is trying to stifle their voices.

“By suspending Parliament to force through a No Deal, Johnson, Cummings and the Government remove the voice of the people at the most important time. It is a dangerous and unacceptable course of action which all Liberal Democrats strongly oppose.

“MPs from all parties united earlier this week to avert a No Deal Brexit and to prevent an anti-democratic shut down of Parliament.

No one voted for a No Deal Brexit The dive toward No Deal is being driven by foreign interests and selfish egos who put their own investments and interests ahead of the country they are supposed to represent. Leave voters who I meet are starting to feel very uncomfortable with the way things are going. No Deal would be a catastrophe for our country and lead to recession and levels of unemployment not see in modern times.

The Government itself has admitted that it would cause shortages in medicines and food.

“The Liberal Democrats continue to work cross-party to prevent No Deal, and to fight to #StopBrexit altogether.”

 



Reading Festival

Love music? Brexit will be a lose-lose for British bands, artists & festivals. Musicians need free movement rights & full Single Market access
especially on tour.

Don’t Let Brexit Steal Your Future.

This weekend, was enormous fun at Reading festival talking with festival goers with their whole life ahead of them to find out what they think about Europe and Brexit.

What a complete pleasure. We met lively, positive kids who are completely clear: They want to Stop Brexit.

Everyone we spoke with who was over 18 was already registered to vote. Those I met who are 16 or 17 are looking forward to the opportunity to do so. One young woman, indeed, asked if we would kindly hold off any general election until after September 9th so that she can take part.
Jo, Jeremy, Johnson … if you wouldn’t mind? 

It was terrific to meet Femi from Our Future Our Choice. If you haven’t seen his videos about Europe yet, try this – one of my favourites.

This is cross-party campaigning, organised by  #OpenBritain and #BerkshireforEurope, and it is going on all weekend – Great work, guys! Saturday, I was with Rachel Eden from Reading’s Labour Council and Adrian Betteridge, one of the campaign organisers, who until recently was a convinced Conservative. I am pleased to report that Adrian has seen the light and is now a signed up Liberal Democrat. Welcome, Adrian. It is great to have you on board.

If you would like to join us – sign up here. 

Finally, thank you to EVERYONE who stopped to talk to us and tell us what you think. And to everyone who took a sticker or signed the petition to help spread the message:

#StopBrexit

Don’t Let Brexit Steal Your Future!    

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.”

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.

Local traders say Brexit is bad for business. Survey Results.

Version 2

  • “After the referendum result we spent six months absorbing cost increases. Since January we have had no choice but to pass these increases on to our customers”.Jon Gage, Rivar Sand and Gravel (see photo).

Two thirds of local traders and service providers who took part in West Berks Business Brexit Survey survey think their business is going to be hurt when we leave the EU and the single market.

The consultation was part of a national exercise for small businesses. Newbury and West Berks Liberal Democrats wanted to make sure that the views of our local traders and employers were properly represented in the national results. The consultation ran online from 19th October to 14th December 2016.

  • “If tariffs are introduced for British businesses trading with the EU,
    the effect on my business will be catastrophic!”

The news is that two thirds of local traders and service providers who took part in the survey think their business is going to be hurt when we leave the EU and the single market. Many report that their costs have gone up already and that they have no choice to but to pass these onto their customers through increased prices.

  • EU funding supports nearly 45% of the post 16 funding.
    There is
    nothing in the plans to show how this loss will be addressed.”  

The Liberal Democrats continue to believe that Britain is better off in Europe, but our immediate priority is to make sure small local businesses do not pay the price of a rushed withdrawal.

The results of the survey are being used to draw up a list of negotiating requirements, which the Liberal Democrats will call on the Government to achieve.

This report was first published in 2017. See the report from the Newbury Weekly News, here:
https://www.newburytoday.co.uk/news/home/20695/west-berkshire-business-bosses-reveal-fears-for-the-future-in-brexit-survey.html

RESULTS

Q: Do you expect Brexit to have a positive or negative impact on your business?

q1-numbers

q1-graph
66% of people who responded expect Brexit to have negative impact on their business

Q: Do you export to the EU?

q3-numbers

q3-graph
27.08% say they export to the EU

Q: Do you import products or materials from the EU?

q4-numbers

q4-graph
47.92% import products or materials from the EU

Q: Do you have suppliers or business partners who do business with EU countries?

q5-numbers

q5-graph
81.25% of respondents have suppliers or business partners who do business with EU countries

More comments from the survey responses will follow
in separate posts, published in the next few days.

Newbury and West Berkshire March for Europe

This post was first published in 2017.

West Berkshire was well represented at the March for Europe in London, with members of West Berkshire Stronger Together EU (WBSTEU) and Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats on the move.

We joined with many thousands of people to march from Marble Arch, down Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square, then along Whitehall to Parliament Square. We heard rousing speeches from Tim Farron on Park Lane, before the march began. He was in front of the crowd again at Parliament Square with the Guardian reporting (at 14:10) as follows: ‘Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron cemented his growing role as the political leader of the Remain movement with a well-received address to the Unite For Europe march in Parliament Square.’

Many speeches followed, with excellentt contributions from Alistair Campbell, Peter Tatchell and David Lammy. The big finish came with Nick Clegg, who was excellent, as ever: “Sadness has given way to a perpetual sense of anger about the choices that Theresa May and her government have taken since [the EU Referendum].”

“It was a choice to pull us out of the customs union, it was a choice to embark on that demeaning bout of transatlantic obsequiousness,” Clegg explains, as he accuses the prime minister of “threatening to turn our country into a bargain basement cowboy economy”. (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2017/mar/25/brexit-protest-thousands-march-in-london-to-unite-for-europe-live?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other)

If you would like to join your local Liberal Democrats and work with us,
please sign up online and drop me a line at judith.bunting@wbld.org.uk.

Judith Bunting discusses Brexit and local businesses with Catherine Bearder MEP

Judith Bunting, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting, welcomed Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder to Newbury on Monday (22nd May) to discuss the future of Newbury’s business sector, with particular reference to leaving the European Union.  

Judith Bunting with local businessman Richard Deal & Catherine Bearder MEP
Judith Bunting with local businessman Richard Deal & Catherine Bearder MEP

Richard Deal, who owns Deal Varney a property management company in Newbury and describes himself as politically neutral, was pleased to have the opportunity to lobby an MEP and to discuss the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitments that will affect the local economy, including the referendum on the terms of Brexit. He told Judith and Catherine:

 Our work here (at Deal Varney) is closely associated with local businesses. If they are succeeding, we will succeed”.

Explaining the Liberal Democrat demand for a second referendum, Catherine Bearder said:

“Contract negotiations often include a cooling off period. That is all the Liberal Democrats are asking for. If the deal the Conservative team negotiates with Brussels is not good enough, the British people deserve an opportunity to change direction of the UK and a vote on whether to Remain within the EU.  

Judith Bunting briefed Catherine Bearder on the local economy and the needs of the local business sector. Referring to the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day meeting at Newbury Racecourse, which she attended on Saturday, she told Catherine Bearder how last year the event drew an audience of 13,000 racegoers into the town. 

Judith Bunting at the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day race meeting
Judith Bunting at the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day meeting at Newbury Racecourse

Judith Bunting said:

We have a diverse economy in Newbury and West Berkshire with major employers such as the racing industry and high tech global businesses. All are dependent on a strong infrastructure whether transport or rural broadband.

“But as well as the need for public infrastructure investment, the role of entrepreneurs and small businesses in delivering a thriving economy is fundamental I believe there is a vital need for access to finance for new businesses, and those wishing to scale up.

“Creating true competition means allowing new businesses to rise and challenge established companies. There are also many well-established small businesses and traders which form the backbone of our local economy in West Berkshire. Our priority in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is to ensure that they have access to the funding they need, and in particular long-term capital.”

The Liberal Democrat manifesto for business includes plans to:

  • Expand the activities of the state-owned British Business Bank, enabling it to perform a more central role in the economy by tackling the shortage of equity capital for growing firms and providing long-term capital for medium-sized businesses.
  • Create a new ‘start up allowance’ to help those starting a new business with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of their business
  • Support fast growing businesses seeking to scale up, through the provision of mentoring support.
  • Review business rates to reduce burdens on small firms, and make them the priority for any future business tax cuts.
  • Reform the Regulatory Policy Committee to remove unnecessary regulation, reduce regulatory uncertainty, and support new markets and investment, particularly in low-carbon and resource-efficient innovation.

Find out more about the Lib Dem manifesto commitments here.

Judith Bunting says NO to hard Brexit, NO to coalition

 

Judith Bunting meeting local residents in Northbrook Street
Judith Bunting in Northbrook Street, Newbury

In a positive mood, speaking at a street stall in Northbrook Street recently, Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury constituency, said: “We must be clear with people about our stance in this election. We don’t rule out future coalitions – we believe in optimistic, plural politics – but we will not enter a coalition led by either May or Corbyn.”

Bunting continued: “We will work with pro-European MPs in any party to stand up to the Conservatives over hard Brexit, but Corbyn is not that. Corbyn is pro-Brexit, he wants to pull us out of the single market. He marched his MPs through the lobbies to vote for article 50 alongside Richard Benyon and the Brexit Conservatives.

Every Liberal Democrat vote and every Liberal Democrat MP elected is a challenge to Theresa May’s Brexit agenda. This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to stop a hard Brexit, if you want to keep us in the single market, if you want a real opposition, this is your chance.”

Lee Dillon, leader of the Liberal Democrats on West Berkshire Council said: “During the referendum this constituency was clear regarding Brexit. People here don’t want it. Labour should unite behind the Liberal Democrats in this election and back Judith Bunting to hold our Tory MP to account for going against the wishes of his constituents”.

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Judith Bunting in Northbrook Street

See more of Judith’s articles on Brexit here.