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Today's headline - June 1

June 1, 2020 2:00 PM
By Liberal Democrats

Ministers must explain evidence behind decision to ease lockdown

Senior public health figures and prominent scientists - including members of SAGE - have questioned the Government's decision to ease lockdown today.

  • People right across the UK will now be worried that this relaxation is premature. This weekend Ministers failed to provide a convincing explanation as to why lockdown is easing today despite the fact that the COVID-19 risk is still classified as "high".
  • Any easing of lockdown is totally contingent on the ability to test, trace and isolate every case to keep people safe. Yet it has been over a week since the Government provided figures for the numbers tested per day. The tracing system is yet to get up and running effectively and does not inspire confidence.
  • Ministers have a duty to explain what evidence is guiding their decisions and must do so urgently. Instead, they have been wasting time attempting to defend the indefensible actions of Dominic Cummings. Ministers must stop obfuscating and start acting, and the Prime Minister must lead from the top by sacking Cummings. This is the only way to start rebuilding public trust.
  • People have already made heartbreaking sacrifices. The Government has a duty to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past by lifting lockdown too soon. Ministers must respond to these concerns and be entirely transparent about the new guidance and thinking behind their decisions, including the trade-offs they have made. This is what the Liberal Democrats have called for throughout this crisis.

Foreign Secretary's silence on Trump tweets is shameful

In an interview with Andrew Marr yesterday, the Foreign Secretary failed to condemn President Trump's tweets relating to protests following the murder of George Floyd. Logo

  • The Foreign Secretary's cowardly failure to condemn the President's inflammatory language demonstrates a Government incapable of standing up to Donald Trump.
  • The Government's silence is shameful and indefensible. The UK Government must not only condemn Trump's rhetoric, but must also act to build a more equal society here in the UK and abroad.
  • The Government should be using our special relationship with the US to condemn Trump's dangerous and violent language and actions. We have a responsibility to do this privately and publicly.
  • We must never fool ourselves into thinking the UK is domestically immune from what is happening in the US. From Windrush to the disproportionate use of police force, the Government have failed British BAME communities. We have a duty to fight this injustice and extinguish it.

Lib Dems call for spare space registers to aid social distancing in schools

Schools ()

The Liberal Democrats have called for local spare space registers to aid the safe reopening of schools by ensuring there is sufficient space for social distancing.

  • We all want to see children get back to school, but safety must come first. Social distancing is going to be crucial in the safe reopening of our schools. Unfortunately, this will be near impossible in many classrooms, where space is already tight.
  • Ministers must make clear to parents and teachers exactly what guidance lies behind the decision to reopen schools today, and what practical support is in place for schools as they open up to more pupils.
  • Liberal Democrats are calling on Ministers to find creative solutions, like creating spare space registers, allowing schools to find local indoor spaces for use as temporary classrooms. This is about putting what we already have to good use - from community halls to conference centres to sports-grounds - and, in doing so, keeping young people safe.
  • The Government has a role to play in finding practical solutions to the logistical challenges headteachers and staff are facing as they look to reopen. Spare space registers would be one practical solution to a key challenge. Ministers must take these proposals seriously as they look to ensure that children returning to school are safe.

Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers

Hong Kong ()

The Government issued guidance this weekend stating that, if China imposes its new security law on Hong Kong, the Home Office it is ready to extend visa rights for all British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong, whether or not they are current BNO passport holders.

  • This is welcome news but this move is long overdue. The Liberal Democrats introduced legislation to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK back in February and it is right that the government is finally listening.
  • Beijing has repeatedly shown contempt for the Sino-British Declaration. Under that Declaration, the UK has a duty to the people of Hong Kong.
  • The Government must now ensure all Hong Kongers are protected. Relatively few people have BNO status as the offer was closed years ago.
  • The Liberal Democrats' Hong Kong Bill, which has cross-party support, would reopen the passport offer to also give young Hong Kongers the right to live in the UK, regardless of whether they are a dependent of a BNO status holder. Ministers are urged to adopt the Bill.

Govt must rethink plans to shut down virtual Parliament

Online voting ()

The Procedure Committee issued a report this weekend recommending that a form of virtual Parliament is allowed to continue while coronavirus restrictions are in place. The House of Commons is due to sit from tomorrow, Tuesday 2 June.

  • The Government's advice to the public is to work from home if possible. Parliamentary authorities have bent over backwards to ensure the House of Commons can sit remotely to help protect public health. There is no good reason not to continue to do just that.
  • With only 50 MPs permitted in the Commons and virtual questions no longer allowed, Jacob Rees-Mogg is setting a dangerous precedent by blocking opportunity for full scrutiny. This is especially worrying for those Members unable to travel to Westminster for coronavirus-related reasons.
  • What's more, the need for socially distanced votes will slow down Parliament and waste hours of time better spent debating legislation and questioning Ministers on pressing issues. This is no way to serve our constituents and the Government must think again about shutting down virtual proceedings.