MEP Life 11- Parliament, Police and Proroguing

BRUSSELS

Hello to you all, as you may have noticed, MEPs were back at work in Brussels, last week. The first week of the month is committee week, and I spent my formal working time considering plans and worries around 5G, budget provision for Erasmus and Creative Europe, and plans for Energy Transition with it the EU. How can I deny, though, that my heart was in Westminster …

BREXIT

One of our first actions on return was to meet up with other UK MEPs who are supportive of a People’s Vote and to sign a cross party Brussels Declaration which indicates we were not happy with the UK Government attempting to force through a no deal Brexit on 31st October. It was great to be acting with so many people from Labour, the Greens, Independent MEPs and Naomi Long from the Northern Ireland Alliance party. Despite our differences, we are all shocked and disgusted by the approach that PM Johnson and his cabinet have taken to the role of Parliament and the prospect of a no deal Brexit. I am hugely proud of the Remain Alliance and Jo Swinson for taking control of Westminster Business and finding a legal way to stop a No Deal Brexit.

MEP Life

With Westminster in mind, Caroline Voaden and I recorded an extra podcast this week, a special edition catching up on all the remarkable moves in Westminster, last week, to control business and forestall Johnsons’s foolish actions. You can listen to it here and catch up with the usual weekly podcast, here.

Euronews was also wrapped up in Brexit, and I also took part in a phone-in for Raw Politics where we discussed the potential for national embarrassment in the face of Brexit. I made the point that the only real embarrassment we face is that, when the referendum was initially put to the country, there was no explanation of WHAT Brexit was meant to entail.

Continuing on the same theme, on Friday, I was asked for an interview by SKY News and was delighted to have a chance to raise the specific hypocrisy of Johnson giving a speech in front of Police Cadets, while proposing a no deal Brexit which would trash more than 40 different cross border legal measures, like Europol and the European Arrest Warrant, on which UK forces of law and order, depend. We already have seen horrible cuts in Police budgets. What more will disappear if Brexit goes ahead is anyone’s guess. I hear from criminologists that we will have to fall back on legal agreements drawn up in the nineteen fifties.

The background to the interview was that I was expecting a gentle, pre-recorded interview. But no. I meet the Sky team, have an ear piece put in my ear and hear ‘Live in 5 minutes.’ Now, I know we are going to be talking about Westminster and Brexit so … I asked what the questions were going to be and was put through to the gallery to hear, ‘Live in 3 minutes’. Then ‘It’s Boris Johnsons’s week, OK? Live in 2 minutes.’ And so we tumbled into the interview.

It was pretty relaxed in the end, although (since this is MEP life) it would have been nice to see a screen to know when I was on camera, but in the context of Brexit, being given an opportunity to raise Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy is everything!

(All credit to Sky, they had no notice that I was going to raise the police cadet’s speech and they still managed to slip in a cut away.)

APPRENTICES

On a more positive note, in the Newsletter last week, I launched an Apprentice’s trip to Brussels in October. Whatever happens next, Europe will be our nearest neighbour and the subsidised trip is for apprentices 18-25 to come and visit Brussels, take a look at the Parliament, and speak to people who are shaping opportunities for apprentices, trainees and businesses across Europe. If you are an apprentice or are supporting apprentices or have an apprentice in your family, there is still time to apply for a place on the apprentices visit. The application form can be found, here. Deadline is 20.09.2019 at 6pm.

If you would like to sign up for next months newsletter, please click here.

By the time I write, next week, Parliament will be prorogued. Hold on to your Democracy, we are in for a bumpy ride!

Cuts to police service unacceptable

Judith out with the Newbury street pastorsAs recent events in Manchester and London have shown, terrorism and violent extremism threaten us all. As liberals, we must have an effective security policy which is also accountable, community- and evidence-based, and does not unduly restrict personal liberty.

This why the Liberal Democrats would:
• Continue cross-border co-operation between security forces across Europe.
• Permit intercepts where justified and permit surveillance of those suspected of serious crime and terrorism with proper judicial oversight.
• Scrap the flawed Prevent strategy and replace it with a scheme that prioritises community engagement and supports communities in developing their own approach to tackling the dangers of violent extremism.

Judith out with the Newbury street pastors
Judith out with the Newbury street pastors

Judith said today:

“I have enormous respect and appreciation for the police teams who work here in Newbury, in the Met and across the UK. The swift response achieved at London Bridge last weekend was remarkable. Police forces are under hugely increased pressure, however, because of reduced funding. In our manifesto, we have laid out specific steps to help the police in their work.

As I mentioned in the hustings last night, community police with the resourcing to go to community events, to go into schools, make real connections with local people, are what is needed, to fight both crime and the threat of terrorism.

A member of the Met Police came into our HQ recently to discuss the cuts to policing. He said they are simply decimated. 20,000 people have been lost from the police, across the board. This is not acceptable.”

The most important changes proposed are:

• An end to the 1% cap on police pay rises and all public sector pay, and uprate wages in line with inflation. The cap has been in place for far too long already. The change across all the public sector is estimated to cost £2.7bn and is fully costed in our manifesto.
• An additional £300 million a year for local police forces to use as they see fit. Let’s put the support in the hands of the experts on the ground.
• An increase in community policing. This is the best way to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and increase the flow of community intelligence.
• As part of our fight against hard Brexit, we would maintain cross-border co-operation in combatting serious organised crime, including international fraud and child sexual exploitation, by retaining the European Arrest Warrant, membership of Europol and access to EU information databases.
• Finally, we would do away with Police and Crime Commissioners, elected at great expense in elections with very low turnout, and replace them with accountable police boards made up of local councillors.

You can read the full proposals in the section ‘7.3, Crime and Policing’, on page 72 of the Manifesto. Our manifesto is available online here.

Lib Dem Judith Bunting unveils manifesto plan to fund more nurses, teachers and police in West Berkshire

The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto plans today for a brighter future, with pledges to reverse Conservative cuts and increase funding for the NHS, schools and police.

The Party’s landmark policy would give the people the final say on the Brexit deal which would include the option to remain in the EU.

The Liberal Democrats would put a penny on income tax for health and care, which would raise £8m for the NHS in Newbury and District Clinical Commissioning Group – enough to fund 48 more nurses.

An additional £28,953,046 of funding for schools in West Berkshire paid for in part by reversing Conservative cuts to corporation tax, would be enough to pay for 159 more teachers.

Meanwhile an additional £8.3m funding for Thames Valley Police would pay for 166 more officers, helping to cut crime and ensure a stronger police presence in the area.

Other key policies in the Liberal Democrat manifesto include plans for a £100bn infrastructure fund to build more homes, improve road and rail links and install fibre-optic broadband across the country.

The Liberal Democrats will also give the people a chance to change Britain’s future by holding a referendum on the final Brexit deal, with the option to remain.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting said:

“These plans would build a brighter future for people in Newbury and West Berkshire and reverse Conservative cuts to our schools, hospitals and police.

“We want to build a fairer Britain, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy.

“You don’t have to accept Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s cold, mean-spirited vision of Britain.

“The Liberal Democrats will stand up to a bad Brexit deal that will cost jobs and put up prices and give you the final say.

“As your Liberal Democrat MP, I will fight for a better deal on Europe, more money for the NHS and schools and a brighter future for Newbury and West Berkshire.” 

Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital
Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital

The Lib Dem Manifesto (and Easy Read, BSL and Braille versions) can be found here.

Lib Dems would give Thames Valley Police an extra £8.3m a year

police-1665104_1920
Liberal Democrats have announced they would boost investment in police forces by £300m a year. This is in stark contrast to the Conservatives who have overseen devastating cuts to community policing. Theresa May as Home Secretary and now Prime Minister has cut policing budgets by over £2bn, eroding the very fabric of community policing.
Under the Liberal Democrats, Thames Valley Police would see a funding increase of £8.3m a year. This could be used to restore a visible policing presence in the community and ensure the police have the training and tools to deal with the changing nature of crime.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting commented:
“This investment in our police is absolutely vital. Under Theresa May – first as Home Secretary and now as Prime Minister, our police have had to deal with the most brutal of cuts. These are now cutting into the bone.
 
“Our police work tirelessly to keep us safe and this Government has completely betrayed them.
 
“Only the Liberal Democrats have a credible plan to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and ensure the police have the resources they need to keep us safe.”
Judith about town 03.05.2017-19