Election of the first female European Commission President.

The election of the first female European Commission President is good news for Europe and the UK.

Voting itself was a highly democratic process, and we had the opportunity of meeting Mrs von der Leyen to discuss various points of note with her. What I took away from these meetings is that she is listening. Her commitments on climate change, fighting tax evasion, social justice and an extension to Article 50 are all promising. Hearing her promise to put forward a Green Deal for Europe in her first 100 days of office as well as looking to hold Amazon accountable is very encouraging.
Everyone understands, now, that leaving the European Union would be a disaster for British families, jobs and education. I was pleased to hear her commitment to grant a further extension to the Brexit deadline, to give Britain space to think and our next Prime Minister time to do the sensible thing to call a referendum on the final deal. We need to be central to the European Project, not outside of it.

 

The European Parliament is open for business! -Day in the life of an MEP week 2

Judith Bunting MEP

This week has been momentous, with my time having been spent in Strasbourg for the opening of the European Parliament, voting for the president, finalising our committees, and continuing to find my feet as an MEP.


Monday was a day of travelling and emails as I made my way from the UK over to Strasbourg to finally take up my elected role as an MEP.

The opening of the European Parliament took place on Tuesday, and was an historic and emotional experience. Our group of 16 Liberal Democrat MEPs donned bright ‘Stop Brexit’ t-shirts to draw attention to the serious point that Brexit is not inevitable.

My personal goal as a Pro-European, British MEP is to be visible, accountable and show what really goes on in the European Parliament. 

We sixteen Liberal Democrats were elected to stop Brexit. We are committed to achieving this. I am pleased to say that our bright message was heard across Europe and was received well by our fellow Europeans in Parliament. As a group we will continue to fight for Britain to play a leading role in the EU. I will do my best to represent you in this while I am a MEP.

Our first official task as MEPs was to vote for the next president of the European Parliament. I supported the newly elected president, David Sassoli, an Italian politician who has been very active in his support for young people and who is committed to tackling climate change. Later in the week Mr Sassoli addressed the European Parliament and stated; “Only when we are united can we counterbalance the most powerful global players.”

There were many voting sessions to elect the President of Parliament, 14 Vice Presidents and the Quaestors – sometimes described as the trades union leaders of MEPs. At almost 10pm on the second day of voting, we even voted on which method to use, with the quick and efficient electronic voting devices winning – thank goodness! With so many new MEPs we were given a trial run to ensure that everyone was happy with how to use them. This involved us voting yes, no or abstain on our favourite musicians. I am pretty sure that the Beatles won. I will get a photo to show you the voting device soon.

Judith Bunting MEPOur committee positions were officially confirmed this week, and I am delighted that I represent the UK on the Education and Culture committee (CULT) and on the committee for Industry, Research and Energy(IRE). With my team I have also made a start on the applications for three pilot projects, putting together ideas around increasing interest in science among teenage girls and promoting lifelong learning. Both of these areas are close to my heart.

Back in the UK we had a number of team meetings in our new office space in Reading. The week was once again rounded off with visits to local Liberal Democrat teams, including a second party in Wokingham constituency where we celebrated their fantastic council gains and I talked with them about my role as a MEP.

If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at; SocialMedia@JudithBunting.co.uk 

You can keep updated with my activities by signing up to receive my new MEP newsletter here.

South East MEPs Committee Roles announced

In the South East, your local Liberal Democrat MEPs are part of the following European Parliamentary committees:

Catherine Bearder, Leader of the Liberal Democrats European Parliamentary Party:

  • Constitutional Affairs Committee
  • Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee
  • Culture and Education Committee

 Judith Bunting:

  • Culture and Education Committee
  • Industry, Research and Energy Committee

 Antony Hook:

  • Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee
  • Legal Affairs Committee

The Liberal Democrat delegation as a whole is doing well in terms of securing top jobs: Chris Davies, North West MEP, has been elected as Chair of Fisheries Committee, and Lucy Nethsingha, East of England MEP, has been elected Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee. The Lib Dems have also secured the 1st Vice-president of the Human Rights Sub-Committee for Irina Von Wiese.

On the appointment of committees, Leader of the Liberal Democrats European Parliamentary Party, Catherine Bearder, said:

 “As one of the largest countries, Britain should be leading in Europe, not leaving. Liberal Democrat success in the European elections is now translating into power and influence for Britain in Europe.”

 

 Judith Bunting, MEP for the South East region, said:

 “The benefit of having leading positions is that we have a strong position in so many important areas. I look forward to reporting on the benefits that the EU can offer students and apprentices in the U.K. As one of the U.K. voices on the science, industry and energy committee, I will make the most of our industrial expertise and the fantastic reputation enjoyed by British scientific research and renewable energies.”

 

 Antony Hook, MEP for the South East region, said:

 “We live in a global world within which we must reach beyond our borders to work with our friends and neighbours on issues such as civil rights.  As a barrister of 16 years I look forward to bringing my experience, prosecuting serious criminals and defending vulnerable individuals against the state, to enhance and improve cooperation between European police and judicial services.”

You can keep to date with my activities as an MEP by reading my weekly MEP Life blog post and listening to our podcast as well as following me on social media

 

 

Renew Europe- What’s in a name?

Renew Group Liberal Democrats

After being joined by the En Marche party, the European Parliament group ALDE, has been renamed Renew Europe. The new name shows that the Group is united with the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament. 

 

The Liberal Democrats are at the heart of the new political group working to Renew Europe, and as a group holding 108 seats we have a unique opportunity to shape Europe. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but together we are inspired to build a free and fair Europe.

 

The Renew Europe UK Group will be led by Catherine Bearder, with Luisa Porritt as Deputy Leader and Barbara Gibson as the Chief Whip.

 

We are also delighted that Martin Horwood, MEP for South West & Gibraltar, has been elected as one of the Vice Presidents, for Renew Europe. Martin says ‘I’ll do my best to help the group focus on the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, LGBT rights, defending the rule of law and confronting populist nationalism across 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.

The Great Repeal Bill – The Liberal Democrat perspective

The Great Repeal Bill starts the arduous task of transposing EU law into British law, but leaves tens of thousands of pieces of critical regulation subject to the whim of this hard-Brexit Tory government.

Theresa May has chosen to pursue the hardest, most divisive form of Brexit, taking us out of the Single Market and seeking to create low regulation, low-grade Britain.

Up and down the UK, Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to maintain the high standards for the environment, health, safety, consumer protection, employment and equalities that the UK currently adheres to as an EU member.

Nobody voted to diminish their rights, make themselves poorer or to make their country less safe.  

We are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.

Fighting for the British people to have a say on the final deal: We will try to use this opportunity to ensure that the Great Repeal Bill is only enacted after the British people have their say on the final deal.

Fighting for the UK to maintain our rights and standards: Liberal Democrats will not support anything which weakens vital human rights and environmental and consumer protections, or that threatens freedom to travel, study and work, employment rights, research funding, or security co-operation arrangements.

Fighting to protect British business from crippling bureaucracy: Businesses were told that Brexit would protect them from red tape, but hard Brexit means dealing with thousands of new regulations, changing codes and uncertainty.

Fighting for transparency: The Leave Campaign told us Brexit would give back control to our Parliamentary democracy, but it has become a power grab by ministers and civil servants who want to use ancient Henry VIII powers to stop MPs from scrutinising the process.

 

This bill will cover fundamental rights and protections for British people, and it must not be stuffed through without due process.    

“I think it is almost lemming like …”

lemming-cartoon

What could be done to minimise the potential impact of Brexit on your business?

Here is a selection of comments from the local business people who completed the Liberal Democrats’ West Berkshire Business Brexit Survey. Businesses are not named, as many prefer to to keep their worries anonymous:

(Thanks to Arranology for use of the cartoon, above.)

What could be done to minimise the potential impact of Brexit on your business?

  • Stay in the EU.  Brexit will destroy our business.
  • Don’t do it! Seriously I think a raft of guarantees have to be forthcoming IMMEDIATELY from the government.
  • Not leave the EU.
  • Clarity is needed on the long term support for farming and conservation in the UK. Investment in farm infrastructure is costly and needs the ability to plan for the long term. Uncertainty and the lack of planning is a real risk to our charity and to many local farm businesses.
  • Remaining in the EU, keeping single market and freedom of movement.
  • Stay in single market and allow free movement of people across Europe.
  • Stay in the EU! Full membership of Single Market and Customs Union essential if this is not possible.
  • Remain within the free market and avoid putting limits on EU workers.
  • Gov’t to stop imposing austerity measures and new initiatives that mask the impact of change – personally I think it is almost lemming like and we look set to leaping off the White Cliffs of Dover before the dangers are realised – which will be an extreme disappointment!
  • Get on and pull us out as soon as possible.
  • Leave eu as soon as possible.
  • Less project fear from remoaners.
  • Nothing, lets just look forward to a brighter and independent future trading with the world.
  • Negotiate in good faith and show goodwill.
  • Sourcing UK products. We can do little else. We are reliant on consumers having enough weekly spend to continue to purchase our products and use our services.
  • No Visas, no clamping down on immigration, a lot of people I employ and work with are from the EU and it would be difficult to replace them. People looking down on Britain for the decision and our standing in the world.
  • Beyond the effect of the falling pound.  We have products to EU trading standards – our producers will not want to get involved in UK standards as well and we have not got the resource for expensive lab testing.
  • Staying in customs union is critical to us. Also, v important to keep access to EU science & engineering funding/research programmes such as Horizon 2020.
  • Change as little as possible from status quo – stability is key. EU Workers a key source of Workers, there is already a shortage of labour with the right skills from this country and even the EU.
  • Tax reduction.
  • Not go ahead with it! Brexit is a business nightmare and to push ahead when only a quarter of the population choose it, (and a mainly elderly quarter at that, whose working lives are over) is utter folly. Not quite sure where they think their pensions are going to be coming from, or how we will fund the NHS to keep looking after them when the get ill and face end of life. Business is this country’s lifeblood and Brexit threatens to chop it off at the roots.
  • Stay in the single market.

“It is the effect on access to European labour that worries us and the risk of inflation.”

im-so-angry-i-made-a-sign-_-fuck-brexit-roskilde-festiva-_-flickrIf the UK does not have membership of or full access to the single market, what impact would this have on your business?

Here is a selection of comments from the local business people who completed the Liberal Democrats’ West Berkshire Business Brexit Survey. Businesses are not named, as many prefer to to keep their worries anonymous:

If the UK does not have membership of or full access to the single market, what impact would this have on your business?

  • It would significantly handicap our ability to deliver services and products to Europe. Considering Europe is where the majority of our business takes place, it is highly likely that we will leave the U.K.
  • It is the effect on access to European labour that worries us and the risk of inflation.
  • Risk of high value, time-sensitive goods being held up in customs, especially as much of our supply chain is non-EU. Late delivery to our key customer would result in contract termination, so we will have to assume customs delays & build early, increasing our inventory costs.
  • Higher prices.

  • Cost of raw materials would rise hence cost of product would rise.
  • Problems with customs delaying shipment. Tariffs also a concern. Medical devices regulated by the Medical Devices Directive from EU, with MHRA responsible for policing in the U.K. What happens after Brexit to these regulations?
  • I would lose business as my clients cut back on consultancy services.
  • Small businesses will have less money to spend. Large companies will remove their HQs from London. Our clients will not be interested in marketing to the British, they will look elsewhere.
  • Without EU membership our business is decimated

  • Very little.

  • Very little as we can operate under WTO rules.

  • Anticipate an increase in paperwork, more difficult shipping of products, and possible travel problems for visiting customers.

  • I would lose business as my clients cut back on consultancy services.

  • Deferred and lack of business confidence will effect commercial property market businesses relocating to Europe will suppress demand.