MEPs concerned about LGBT discrimination in Poland

Renew Group Liberal Democrats

Our MEP delegation joined colleagues in co-signing a letter to the Polish Prime Minister in response to the violence against the LGBT community that took place during the first pride march in Bialystok on 20th July, and the intended distribution of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers by Polish conservative magazine, Gazeta Polska.

People attending the city’s pride parade anti-LGBT insults hurled at them and were attacked.

This goes against the Liberal Democrats fundamental principal of a “free, fair and open society”. We firmly believe in tolerance, respect, and anti-discrimination for all. Member of the LGBT community must be treated equally, free from discrimination and hatred.

We have a collective duty to advance human rights and freedoms.

We demand better.

A week of firsts- MEP life- Week 4

My second week in Strasbourg started with a meeting looking at renewable energy with Jerzy Buzek, MEP, Chair of the European Energy Forum, and Miguel Arias Cañete, the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. It was good to discuss with them the latest long term plans for sustainable change across the EU.

The Women for Europe group met with us on Wednesday, which was a pleasure. It was great to finally meet everyone, including the Commissioners for Transport and Justice and also Margarate Vesteger, recently appointed Renew Europe Vice President of the Parliament.

Later in the week the Liberal Democrat delegation had the opportunity to meet with the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier. It was a positive meeting which provided us with some keen insights into what may happen next for Brexit. As Liberal Democrats, we are not here to play, and for the good of everyone in the UK, we must stop Brexit.

Coming up I will be looking at UK apprenticeships in more detail, and sharing how apprentices can benefit from our membership of the EU. Please do get in touch if you have a story to share. 

The big news of the week was that we voted to elect the first female president of the European Commission. Voting itself was a highly democratic process and, before the vote, we had the opportunity to meet with Mrs von der Leyen. 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 also encouraging.

Making my maiden speech in plenary, I joined the debate on clean air. As part of Europe we have the opportunity to protect our shared environment. Dirty air knows no borders, and poor air quality has more than ten-times the impact of road traffic accidents. We have the technology, we need to use it. I call for the enforced targeting of Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) to be extended to smaller towns and cities.

If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at info@judithbunting.co.uk. We would love to hear from you!

In the spirit of transparency, I am making it easy to see what I am up to as a one of your MEPs. As well as this weekly blog: I have video updates on Twitter and Facebook, a newsletter which you can sign up to here and our MEP Life podcast

 

If you like what you see, hear or read – please let us know!

Twinning- an exchange of culture

I was honoured to recently join the Twinning events and ceremony between Newbury, Berkshire and Carcaixent, Spain, as part of my role as an MEP for the region, and also in relation to the education and culture committee of which I am a member. It has been a joy to see the connections between Newbury and the twin towns grow over the past few years. Twinning is a shared European project and is a fantastic exchange of culture and people. Such opportunities are invaluable and transcend political ideas. I love this movement that has kept doors open to our neighbours across Europe.
 
This unique method of promoting links of exchange and co-operation between towns and communities has been a driving force of growth and development of the European Union. Twinning in Europe has created a dense network of over seventeen thousand links. Bringing many opportunities, including bringing citizens from different countries and cultures closer together. Twinning is the expression of European unity and identity built from the grass roots. It brings people together, creates friendships and romances. It is perhaps the most visible form of European co-operation, with thousands of towns and villages across Europe. The movement started in 1945, instigated by mayors and citizens who vowed that Europe should never again be torn apart by war.
 
The theme of the conference: ‘Brexit: the price of divorce’. I was invited to speak alongside Richard Benyon MP for Newbury, George Chichester from Strutt and Parker and renowned artist Johannes Von Stumm. Listening to the impact that Brexit will have on the agricultural and creative industries was staggering. With some estimates suggesting that up to 30% of UK farms will go out of business, and we have already seen the impact on the European Youth Orchestra which has relocated from London to Italy. 

As a Liberal Democrat MEP, I am working to stop Brexit. The price of Brexit is unacceptable, and I want to work with Europe, not walk away. Brexit has not happened yet, and aside from the damage it is doing to our relationships with our closest neighbours, it has already caused major damage to UK jobs, cohesion and the economy. The economy is now 2% smaller than it would have been if the United Kingdom had chosen to remain in the bloc, according to the Bank of England. Some calculate that economic losses have already reached £66 billion, which is more than the infamous Brexit divorce bill. 
 
The Twinning ceremony was a moving affair, with both Mayors giving speeches on unity and collaboration. In the Mayor of Carcaixent’s speech he pointed out that ‘It may seem like a symbolic ceremony, but it is more than that; it shows our commitment to the idea of a Europe of the people, seen most visibly in the twinning of our towns’
 
The EU is the greatest political success story in modern history. It has guaranteed peace and prosperity on the European continent. Twinning is a fantastic expression of this unity and collaboration. Congratulations to both Newbury and Carcaixent on your twinning.

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.’

Thank You for your support.

Thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections 2019. You are amazing.

HUGE THANKS
Huge thanks go in particular to the campaigners across the South East of England who bundled, delivered, tweeted, facebooked and put up those fabulous stake boards and posters. With little media coverage, this is what we rely on to get our message out.

RESULTS
The Liberal Democrat vote in the South East of England more than tripled. We elected three MEPs. Please seek us out on social media. You can read about us, here:

ACROSS THE UK
In a fantastic result spread across the UK, Liberal Democrats elected 16 MEPs. Our biggest team ever. This is a clear indication that people want to STOP BREXIT.

REMAIN WON
The papers are parading a Brexit Party victory, but the total vote for all the Remain-leaning parties clearly outweighs UKIP and the Brexit Party.

  • Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, Plaid and Change UK – all backers of a second referendum polled 39.1%.
  • No-dealers, Ukip and the Brexit Party collectively achieved just 33.7%.

It’s not often that I post links to the Daily Telegraph, but it is particularly sweet to read their report on the result: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/05/27/won-uks-european-elections-leave-remain/

Here, in the South East of England, Nigel Farage’s home territory, we held the Brexit Party to four seats only – the same number of seats that UKIP won in 2014. This time, UKIP won no seats. There was no improvement in representation for Leave.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MEPs
You can find out more about the full Liberal Democrat team across the UK, here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/meps

THIS IS NOT THE END
I will write more in the next day or so, but this is just the beginning. Our campaign to Stop Brexit goes on and will continue until we win a People’s Vote.

JOIN US
If you would like to join the team – please sign up here:
https://www.libdems.org.uk/joining-us

The Great Liberal Democrat Brexit Debate – Rural Affairs and Racing

On Tuesday 11th April, Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats hosted a panel discussion at East Garston Village Hall to explore the effect that Brexit is likely to have on rural affairs, including the racing industry.

Thank you to everyone who came along to join us – and to our speakers for the event who are all top notch in their field.

We were delighted to be joined by entrepreneur Ivan Massow, who made national headlines last year, when he defected from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Democrats. Tim Clement Jones, a former resident of East Garston, who now speaks for the Liberal Democrats on the Digital Economy in the Lords, also joined us, to sit alongside Cotswold businesswoman, Liz Leffman, who as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the recent Witney by-election slashed the Conservative majority from 25,155 to 5,702.

The audience included locals from East Garston village and Hungerford, as well as Remain and Leave supporters from Newbury, Thatcham and Pangbourne. I enjoyed the fact that the room was not all one sided, especially when debate is informed and good natured as it was here.

As a Liberal Democrat, of course, I believe Britain would be better off staying in Europe, but the more advice and information we can give West Berkshire businesses, the better they will be able to plan for the uncertainty ahead.

Discussion covered threats to University education and research, as well as the opportunities and issues Brexit brings for farmers and the agricultural industry. Tim Clement Jones spoke on worries raised by the racing industry, which is already suffering because of the fall in sterling and faces the likely loss of European Horse Passports as well as potentially significant increases in tariffs if the UK drops out of the single market without a deal.

The next Great Liberal Democrat Brexit Debate on Brexit and the Creative Industries is at 3pm on Saturday 13th May at Johannes von Stumm’s sculpture studio at Wellhill House, South Fawley. Discussion will be led by Baroness Jane Bonham Carter.

Please join us – whichever side of the debate you sit!

EU cross-party Q&A in Hungerford

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 12.24.23

Answering questions about Europe in Hungerford this evening (Monday 20th June):

Judith Bunting (Liberal Democrat)
Richard Benyon MP (Conservative)
Jonny Roberts (Labour)

Thank you to all who came along to the debate in Hungerford this evening. We were faced with a great set of questions and had at least one clear conversion in the room.

A couple of follow up notes: 

* Re EU borders, new members and Turkey: Yes, Britain has a veto. Accession of any candidate state must be approved unanimously by the Council of the EU, which is made up of representatives from each member state, and ratified by all national parliaments. 

* Re Democracy in the EU. People say the EU is led by people who are unelected, call it a dictatorship, say it’s undemocratic. To build on answers given this evening explaining how this is not the case:

1/ The Council of Europe sits at the top of the tree. It’s members are government ministers from each EU country according to the policy area to be discussed – ie: for us, MPs elected in the UK. In the Council, these government ministers from each EU country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies. The ministers have the authority to commit their governments to the actions agreed on in the meetings.

2/ The European Parliament is the directly-elected EU body with law-making, supervisory, and financial responsibilities – ie: this is where EU law is made, where international agreements are decided, where the people WE elect as MEPs sit to represent us and supervise policy motions that come down from the Council of Europe (see above).

3/ The European Commission: The European Commission proposes new laws, manages some policies and represents the EU in trade agreements. Most staff of the Commission are akin to our civil servants. They number approx 33,000, a group about the size of Birmingham City Council.

The Commission is led by a group of Commissioners, 1 from each EU country, each of whom has responsibility for one area of governance eg Energy, Environment, Trade. Yes, these people are unelected, but a) they are effectively senior civil servants and b) each is appointed by the elected government in the member state. Britain’s current Commissioner is Jonathan Hill, appointed by David Cameron in 2014. He is Commissioner for Financial Stability in the EU and Financial Services.  

If you have a question there wasn’t time to ask, do drop me a line at judithbunting@wbld.org.uk. 

 Phot from Hungerford Lib Dems

This event was hosted by the Stronger IN Campaign