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  1. The Prime Minister must condemn President Trump's behaviour

    British foreign policy must always promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law all over the world. The USA is no exception.

    The UK has a moral duty to speak out when the freedoms and rights of the people of the US are under attack.

    As one of the United States’ closest allies, the UK has a moral duty to speak out when the freedoms and rights of the people of the US are under attack. Today is the 9th day of protests following the murder of George Floyd, yet Boris Johnson and his Ministers remain silent.

    The UK Government’s refusal to condemn the behaviour of the President of the United States is shameful.

    Since the murder of George Floyd, President Donald Trump has used increasingly violent rhetoric in response to protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

    On top of this, we have seen peaceful protestors and journalists beaten and attacked by those whose duty is supposedly to serve and protect the public.

    When questioned on this last weekend, the Foreign Secretary refused to denounce such behaviour.

    The UK must use its Special Relationship to condemn this language and the use of military action to quell protests. British foreign policy must promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law all over the world. The USA is no exception.

    We are therefore urging the Prime Minister to make a clear public statement condemning in the strongest possible terms the language and actions of the US President in relation to protestors and journalists.

    To remain silent is to remain complicit.

    Tackling BAME inequalities in the UK

    However, we cannot ignore the systemic racism and inequality in our own society. The situation in the US is also a stark reminder of the systemic racism here in the UK. 

    The UK has a moral duty to speak out when the freedoms and rights of the people of the US are under attack.

    We are therefore also urging the Prime Minister to set out the steps his government are taking to prevent deaths like George Floyd’s happening in the UK and how the government will enforce change throughout the UK police and justice system to ensure that BAME and white individuals are treated equally at all stages.

    Just yesterday Public Health England published a report into the disproportionate impact of coronavirus, yet it failed to put forward any recommendations which would help tackle the disproportionate number of BAME people losing their lives to the virus.

    A government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities must be developed, with a review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether its funding is adequate.

    We must see more action from this Government if we are to tackle the injustice and inequality in our society.

  2. The murder of George Floyd has led to a global outpouring of anger and grief.

    From Windrush to Grenfell, from Stephen Lawrence to Mark Duggan, we are not short of our own examples of institutionalised, deep-rooted injustices that shame us all

    Racism has been exposed in the most shocking and tragic of ways in Minneapolis but make no mistake - it exists in Britain too.

    In London, thousands of protestors are expected to gather in Hyde Park in possibly the biggest Black Lives Matter demonstration the capital has ever seen.

    From Windrush to Grenfell, from Stephen Lawrence to Mark Duggan, we are not short of our own examples of institutionalised, deep-rooted injustices that shame us all. From the white-washed curriculum that is still taught in British schools to the indiscriminate use of stop and search and racial profiling in our cities, racism permeates our society at all levels.

    Even today, with the indisputable evidence before us that black and minority ethnic people are more at risk from Covid-19, we are failing to put in place adequate protections or to try and understand why. Racism in the UK is a public health crisis which requires broad, sustained and urgent action.

    Racism in the UK is a public health crisis which requires broad, sustained and urgent action

    As a member of the Liberal Democrats, a political party that proudly states its opposition to entrenched privilege and inequality, rejects prejudice and discrimination and seeks to build a fair, free and open society, I’m acutely aware of how deeply we have failed too.

    It’s time for us and for all organisations that can affect change, to stop hiding behind correct but hollow words. It’s time for us to listen. Time for us to get educated. Time for us to work in partnership with black people to bring about real change.

    I know that as a white woman I can never fully understand this struggle. But, as the London mayoral candidate, I can use the platform of my campaign to amplify voices that don’t have my privileges and to be the best ally I can be.

    For today, I stand in full solidarity with everyone protesting in London. Stay safe.

  3. The disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on people from BAME groups is extremely alarming.

    My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have written to the Prime Minister to express our grave concern at the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on people from black, Asian and minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds and are urging the government to take urgent action now to address this.

    Whilst we welcome the Government’s report into the impact of the coronavirus on BAME people, there must be full scrutiny of this process by MPs right across the political spectrum.

    That is why we continue to call for a cross-party taskforce to oversee the review process and monitor the roll out of measures required to tackle this issue.

    Further immediate action must also be taken to support BAME people vulnerable to and facing this crisis now:

    Safety at Work

    Around two thirds of healthcare staff who have died are from a BAME background whereas they make up 20% of the overall workforce.

    People from BAME groups make up a significant percentage of those on the frontline. Their protection is paramount, yet the shortfalls in personal protective equipment and access to testing during this crisis have, at times, been shocking.

    Around two thirds of healthcare staff who have died are from a BAME background whereas they make up 20% of the overall workforce.

    Adequate PPE equipment, in line with WHO standards, must be provided to prevent coronavirus outbreaks among NHS workers in wards treating COVID-19 cases, those treating other conditions, and for care workers, both in care homes and those providing domiciliary care.

    The Government must also ensure that all risk assessments by employers include an Equality Impact Assessment considering the higher risk for BAME people in general and BAME people with additional vulnerabilities specifically.

    At the same time, the Government's recent announcements around the return of “those who cannot work from home” to their workplaces is putting BAME individuals at disproportionate risk.

    That's why we are urging the government to work closely with relevant authorities and the necessary resources to prevent overcrowding on public transport and to provide alternative means of transport to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all commuters.

    Safety in Schools

    The Government must review the proposed ‘Back to School’ plan with regards to BAME children

    The Government has failed to consult with school leaders, teachers, and unions on the details of its guidance for reopening schools, and that’s just not good enough.

    Current communications from the Government on schools do not recognise the specific risks that BAME children may be exposed to, nor how this can be managed.

    That's why we are urging the Government to review the proposed ‘Back to School’ plan with regards to BAME children who may be exposed to the virus and transmit it either at home to their families or to BAME teachers and other school staff.

    We are also calling on the Government to publish all scientific advice it has received on this, and for a guarantee that all children, of all ages, will be given the equipment and funding to learn safely, either at home or in school.

    Research

    Further research into why BAME people are so disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 is needed as a priority

    Researchers working on behalf of NHS England analysed the NHSX data of over 17.4 million adults in the UK and found that, compared to white people, BAME people were at a higher risk of death from COVID-19.

    Further research into why BAME people are so disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 is needed as a priority in the long-term to ensure an effective response to the coronavirus crisis.

    We are urging the Government to work to support such endeavours.

    The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. We must all work together to ensure there are no blindspots in the UK’s response to this crisis.

  4. Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP, hesitates before trying to explain why he is opening up about the running of baths, the opening of tins and holding of hands that he does for his wife, Flora.
  5. In the week since the death of George Floyd in the United States, the grief and anger of black communities in the US and closer to home has been clear.

    The Liberal Democrats extend our solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Protests against the killing of black people by police have erupted everywhere from Floyd’s home state of Minneapolis, USA, to the UK, Japan, and New Zealand. The world knows George Floyd’s name, and his death has fuelled a movement to end police violence against black people.

    The Liberal Democrats exist to fight for justice, liberty and equality. We are living through a moment in history where our values are challenged, and as liberals we stand on the side of social justice. We must stand in solidarity with black communities in the US and around the world.

    Just as we have a moral obligation to speak out against the injustice we’re witnessing in the US, we also can’t ignore the failings here in the UK. In the UK 26% of instances of police using firearms are against black people, despite black people making up only 3.3% of the population. 51% of young men in custody in the UK are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, despite these groups making up only 14% of the UK population. The 2017 Lammy Report concluded that “BAME individuals still face bias, including overt discrimination, in parts of the justice system”. More recently, we’ve seen that BAME people are 54% more likely than white people to be fined under the new coronavirus lockdown laws.

    BAME people are 54% more likely than white people to be fined under the new coronavirus lockdown laws.

    Black people are suffering at the hands of institutions systematically biased against them. It’s unjust. It’s unfair. It’s racist. The Liberal Democrats extend our solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. We fully support black communities in the UK and abroad, and stand with them against the injustice they face.

    George Floyd cannot be just another name. This fight needs to make a real change, and the Liberal Democrats will support the movement to bring justice and equality for black communities. Black Lives Matter.


    The Black Lives Matters protests will hopefully bring about change, but will also inevitably bring trauma, grief and hurt. The social media feeds we’re all becoming so reliant on in coronavirus lockdown are flooded with videos and stories of police brutality against black people. These are hard to witness, especially for other black people, and it might feel like there is no escape. These feelings are completely valid, and there are mental health resources out there to help:

    Free therapy from the Black, African and Asian Therapy Network

    Mental health charity, MIND's resources

    NHS Mental Health resources

    Access to the Samaritans


    Join the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality here: https://ldcre.org.uk/en/

    Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LDCRE1

  6. Our late former Leader Paddy Ashdown argued at the time of the Hong Kong handover that without the added right to live in the UK for those holding British National Overseas (BNO) Passports, Beijing could ignore the Joint Declaration. 

    We have a duty to act and protect those we vowed we would.

    In 2020, this is becoming a tragic reality. 'Beijing's new law will trample over the 'one country, two systems' framework, crushing Hong Kong's autonomy.

    The new ‘national security law’ would target protesters, ban activities of “foreign forces”, and tear apart the city’s Basic Law.

    The UK has a moral obligation to act.

    Back in February, I introduced my Hong Kong Bill. The Bill seeks to reopen the offer of British National Overseas Passports, giving all Hong Kongers the right to live in the UK. 

    Although my Bill has strong cross party support, the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary would not budge.

    It is welcome news therefore that they are now setting out plans to give BNO Passport holders increased visa rights, including the right to stay in the UK for 12 months.

    But sadly it is not nearly enough.

    The BNO scheme ended in 1997 and is not inherited. That means that, despite the UK Government's recent shift, there would be a whole generation Hong Kongers, including many pro-democracy activists, who would not benefit. The 12 month limit is also clearly inadequate when there is no assurance that Beijing would change policy towards Hong Kong.

    While the government’s announcement is therefore a step in the right direction, Liberal Democrats will continue to push them to do much more.

    The government must not only reopen the BNO Passport so that all people of Hong Kong are eligible, they must also ensure it gives citizenship or the right to live in the UK permanently.

    The UK cannot turn its back on the people of Hong Kong at this crucial moment. We have a moral and legal duty to do all we can.

  7. Millions of people are worried for their loved ones. They have made heartbreaking sacrifices every day since lockdown, including missing family gatherings like weddings and funerals.

    People are rightly angry about Dominic Cummings’ behaviour. It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else

    It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else

    Cummings’ refusal to have the decency to apologise - and the Prime Minister’s support for him - is an insult to us all.

    It reveals the worst of their elitist arrogance. The bond of trust between the Government and the people has been broken.

    The buck stops with the Prime Minister and his judgement is now in question. He must come clean about what he knew and when, and terminate Dominic Cummings’ contract.

    Each minute the Prime Minister fails to act is another minute the Government is distracted from upscaling Britain’s testing capacity, securing PPE for frontline workers and preventing the tragic deaths in our care homes.

    All Conservative MPs must stop defending the indefensible and put the health, wellbeing and economy of our country first by calling for the Prime Minister’s scandal-hit spin doctor-in-chief to go.

    It is now clearer than ever that, once we are through this crisis, there must also be an independent inquiry to review the Government’s actions, so we can learn lessons.

    Some of the key questions that need answering:

    There must be an independent inquiry to review the Government's actions

    ●Why is the level of testing so low compared to some countries? What is the Government doing to increase testing to prevent a surge in infections as the lockdown is eased?

    ●Why is there a lack of protective equipment for frontline workers? What is the Government doing to get them the kit they need, now?

    ●Why are so many people dying in care homes? What is the Government doing to make sure all care home residents and staff get the testing they need, now?

    The Government is asking a lot of the public during this crisis, and the British people deserve clear, honest answers in return.

  8. We cannot allow coronavirus to blind us to the injustice that is unfolding on Hong Kong.

    Beijing’s new national security law is a naked power-grab. It bypasses Hong Kong local law-making processes and demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration. Clearly China no longer cares for the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

  9. It has been confirmed that Beijing is introducing a resolution that would bypass Hong Kong local law-making processes in order to impose a new ‘national security law’ on the territory.

    We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms.

    It is clear that China no longer cares for the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

    We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms. We are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action.

    Alistair Carmichael, our Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong said:

    “This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration. 

    The Chinese government have reneged on the promises made to protect and enhance their rights and freedoms.

    The UK has a moral and legal duty to act. The Conservative government must reopen the British National Overseas (BNO) Passport scheme and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK. "

    The UK has a legal and a moral duty to act

     That's why we tabled a Bill that would re-open the offer of a British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the “right of abode”, allowing a person to live or work indefinitely in the UK. 

    We are calling on the Government to support our Bill, which will have its second reading in Parliament on 11th September 2020.

  10. Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come. 

    For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibWhips 

    Weekly Whip w/c 18th April

    Monday 18th May

    Monday started with Ministerial Questions to the Treasury and the Department for Transport. Where Munira Wilson questioned the government on what they are doing to protect the aviation industry and prevent the loss of jobs in that sector.

    Then followed a Ministerial Statement from the Department for Health and Social Care, with an update on the response to Covid 19. Daisy Cooper asked the government to bring forward primary legislation to govern the collection and any potential misuse of data. This is particularly important as the government is pushing forward with a centralised approach to the NHS tracing app. Sarah Olney also asked about the training that the tens of thousands of COVID tracers the Department of Health and Social Care.

    The house then went to the substantive business of the day. Namely the second reading of theImmigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. This bill if passed in its current form would end free movement to work. That with other measures in the bill would show the biggest fundamental change to our immigration system in over 50 years.

    The second reading is the point where MPs vote on the general principle of a bill not the line by line details of the bill. MPs can, however, amend a bill at second reading via a reasoned amendment. This gives MPs the chance to highlight their dissatisfaction with the bill. Christine Jardine with other Lib Dem MPs put a reasoned amendment on this Bill forward.

    Tuesday 19th May

    We started off the day with Ministerial Questions to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs. Then more onto questions to the MPs that are spokespeople responsible for public bodies that heavily interact with parliament. Namely the Church Commissioners, the House of Commons Commission, the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.

    Ministerial Questions were followed by two Urgent Questions. The first was to the Health Secretary on COVID 19 outbreaks in care homes. Munira Wilson leads on this for the Lib Dems.

    Alistair Carmicheal also questioned the government on what it was doing to protect the Mental Health of Care Workers.

    Update: After both Munira and Alistair’s interventions,the government is looking at the Lib Dem plans for 24-hour mental health support for NHS and care workers.

    The second urgent question of the day was on the completion of the latest round of talks with the EU. The Lib Dems have asked the government to extend the talks with the EU. 

    The substantive business of the day consisted of two S.I.s on the use of Human Tissue in organ donation and the second on being able to offer more support to victims in the justice system in Scotland.

    The final motion of the day was a Ways and Means motion on the Finance Bill, the bill that brings the annual budget into legal force. A Ways and Means motion is a quick way of amending a bill whilst it is on its journey through Parliament. This Ways and Meansenables the Government to amend the current Finance Bill in order to implement reforms to the existing off-payroll working rules.

    Wednesday 20th May

    We started off the day with Ministerial Questions to the Scotland Office and the Prime Minister. However, as these were not the most exciting bits of the day (sorry Boris), we will skip over them this week.

    The next item of business was an Urgent Question from Alistair Carmicheal on the government’s plan to reopen to a fully physical parliament after the Whitsun recess. 

    This Urgent Question was followed by the usual business of the house motion but here is where it gets interesting. The business of the house motion did not contain any motion to continue hybrid proceedings. A joint amendment to add this, was put forward by the Lib Dems and Labour. Without this amendment, it would have meant that all MPs would be travelling to Westminster and, potentially becoming super-spreaders of the virus.

    After that, there was a ministerial statement on the Northern Ireland Protocol published by the government earlier that day. Wendy Chamberlain led the response on this for the Lib Dems.

    This was followed by the 2nd reading of the Trade Bill, which is the bill that authorises and sets the framework for setting trade deals with other countries. Like the Immigration Bill the Lib Dems put in a reasoned amendment. Saying that Parliament did not get a say in the mandate of any trade talks nor the power of ratifying any of those new trade deals.

    The final item of business of the day was a motion on the liaison committee. This Select Committee is the committee of the chairs of all of the other select committees. The Conservatives have been trying to force one of their MPs in as the Chair of this powerful committee. A joint Lib Dem/Labour amendment looked to amend the motion to say that the Chair should be elected from the members of the committee.

    This may appear to be a small point but the Chair of the Liaison Committee directly scrutinises the work of the Prime Minister. It is a powerful position and should not be given away lightly.

    That ended the proceeding in the House of Commons for the week. For the next two weeks MPs will be hard at work in their constituencies over the Whitsun recess. So, Parliament and the Weekly Whip will return in June.




     

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