The other day, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the UK economy shrank by 20.4% in April, due to the effects from the coronavirus pandemic that saw the UK in lockdown and employees being furloughed from their jobs and the self-employed being unable to work. This is the biggest fall the UK has ever seen and is 10 times larger than the previous steepest fall. Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said “We face the most serious economic challenge in generations. This is not a time to exit the world’s largest market. This is not a time to increase trade barriers. This is not a time to deny business skills they need with a damaging new immigration system.”
“Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for a Green Recovery Plan and policies that back responsible businesses.”
“We can create jobs and protect the environment by investing in new, green technologies but we need imaginative new policies and strong political leadership.
“The Prime Minister should not be putting Britain’s chances for an economic recovery in jeopardy by insisting on an arbitrary Brexit transition deadline and risking a devastating no deal Brexit,” said Ed Davey.
Thankfully, the Welsh Government has been more cautious with proposals to lift the lockdown and we have seen the R rate drop from 0.8 to 0.7. In England, we have seen this week that non-essential shops have been able to reopen, but figures also show that the R rate is increasing towards 1. If it goes back above 1, we could see the start of the 2nd wave, or will it be the continuation of the 1st wave?
From the start of the negotiations with the EU, the Boris and the Tories have said that it would be easy to get a good deal and that the EU needed us more than we needed them. We have seen regular comments from Government Ministers that the EU must cave into the Tory Government demands or they will walk away and we will leave the transition period on 31st December 2020 with no deal.
We are hearing some noises that the Government are talking up the possibility of a deal being reached, but after over 4 years of hearing from Boris & Co, it is very difficult for us to tell whether this is true or yet another lie.
With the havoc to the UK economy that we have seen since the lockdown commenced in March, surely the Government is not going to walk away without a deal with the EU?
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI boss has said that walking away from trade talks without a deal would be “catastrophic” for business and would act as a building block to rebuilding the economy. Business would have no time to prepare for a no deal scenario on top of the devastating effect they have encountered from the coronavirus crisis. Dame Carolyn likened a no deal scenario to “setting fire to the garden shed” when the house is in flames.
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Chair – Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats
16th June 2020
The last few months since the lockdown has been hard for everyone, and it looks as if it could continue for a while, yet.
Newly released figures show that 8.9 million jobs have been furloughed and 2.6 million claims have been submitted to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey has said "The furlough scheme and income support for self employed people, which the Liberal Democrats fought hard to get, are providing a lifeline for millions of families".
Ed Davey continued “However, far too many people are still excluded from this support, including those who recently became self-employed and those who operate as limited companies. The Chancellor must expand the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to cover these people".
“The Government must not leave behind people and businesses without the support they need when these schemes come to an end. Many parts of our economy, such as tourism and hospitality, will simply not be back up to speed by October". Said Ed.
“The Government must bring forward bespoke packages of support for these industries to save jobs and prevent mass unemployment.” Added Ed Davey.
As Chair of Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats, I appreciate that Pembrokeshire has a high reliance on small businesses and the self employed and as a county, we rely on the tourism industry. We have watched the UK government lift the lockdown guidelines, unlike the more cautious reaction by the Welsh Government, under Mark Drakeford. We have all seen the TV news footage of the beaches at Bournemouth and Southend being packed and social distancing being almost impossible to observe. We have also seen the huge turnouts for the Black Lives Matter protest marches.
In comparison, we have seen our beaches almost empty and the Dyfed Powys Police turning back cars and its occupants, who have driven a long distance to see places like Tenby and Abereiddy.
Pembrokeshire, being at the far west of Wales has in some ways protected us from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. The number of confirmed cases and deaths has so far, been lower than other parts of Wales. But as it is an invisible enemy, we cannot see it, so we always have to be on our guard.
However, it is in the summer months that the county's tourist attractions, hotels, B & B's, self accommodation, tourist shops and eating establishments make their money, to see them through the quiet winter months ahead. Unfortunately, some businesses and self employed don't qualify for the established schemes. We therefore support those calls upon the Government to do more to help those who fall through the net. We would like to see those businesses to survive and be there once Pembrokeshire is open once again, to welcome visitors.
Protest Against Suspension of Parliament - Castle Square, Haverfordwest, at 12 Noon Saturday 31st August 2019
In conjunction with Pembrokeshire for Europe we are organising a protest against the Suspension of Parliament by Prime Minister Johnson.
Saturday, 31st August at 12 noon in Castle Square, Haverfordwest.
Come along and bring family, friends and work colleagues with you! Also why not bring along a placard with a suitable message for Johnson and his henchmen about their undemocratic and outrageous actions.
As this is short notice please advertise this protest on your social media, and with any local press contacts you may have - and in any other way you can think of!
Last weekend the Sunday Times printed details of a leaked civil service document (“Operation Yellowhammer”) on Britain's readiness to leave the European Union on 31 October without a deal.
The report is alarming:-
- Some fresh food will be less available and more expensive. This will particularly hit the most vulnerable.
- Medical supplies will be vulnerable to severe delays, especially as three-quarters come through the main Channel crossings.
- The introduction of export tariffs into the EU together with the UK government's plans to set import tariffs into Britain at zero will damage the competitiveness of British refineries and “inadvertently” close two of the UK's six oil refineries leading to 2,000 job losses. The resulting strike action would lead to limited fuel availability in the regions which they directly supply. The BBC and local press have reported that whilst Valero are committed to be in Pembrokeshire for the long-term, a "No Deal" Brexit and the unfair tariffs will make it harder for them to increase investment in
their Pembrokeshire oil refinery.
- The worse disruption to the short Channel crossings might last for 3 months before flow rates rise to about 50% - 70% (as more traders get prepared) although disruption could continue for much longer.
- The current plans for no checks at the Irish border are “unsustainable” due to economic, legal and biosecurity risks. EU tariffs and regulatory requirements for goods entering Ireland will severely disrupt trade. The agri-food sector will be hardest hit.
- There will be passenger delays at EU airports, Euro-Tunnel and Dover.
- Those on the lowest incomes will be most affected by rising food and petrol prices.
We can also conclude that the ferry ports at Fishguard and Pembroke Dock will be affected by these issues.
The government claim that they have made a lot of progress since this report in preparing "No Deal" Where is their evidence?
No-one voted to crash out of the EU without a deal. The Prime Minister has no mandate for this and 100 MPs have asked for an early recall of Parliament. MPs need to stop the
Prime Minister before it is too late.
Whilst the news was dominated with the intricacies of the Brexit negotiations, it suddenly seems to have fallen off the radar and the main issue now is the drugs problem. We all know that drugs have been a serious problem for centuries. Except today, it has been the main news story for the past few days because of the past indiscretions of those hoping to become the next Tory party leader and thus our next Prime Minister. 6 contenders have made statements of their experiences and some have even called for Michael Gove to withdraw. Just now, I have read a tweet alleging Boris was busy snorting cocaine at a Knightsbridge party in the 90’s. Whether it is true or not, I guess we will find out in time as every Tory leadership contender is asked about their past.
Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats have expressed their concern at the decision taken by the BBC to save £450m a year from 2020, to remove the free TV licence for those over 75 years of age from those pensioners not in receipt of Pension Credit. This could see 3.7m pensioners currently benefitting from a TV licence, having to start paying from 2020. The decision was made by the BBC following the government's decision to transfer the funding of licences from the government to the BBC.
Liberal Democrat Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson Jane Bonham-Carter said "Concessions for over 75's are a social cost which should not be paid from the licence fee, but from central Government funding. Government, not the BBC should be responsible and accountable for their social policies. If the Conservative Government does not want to pay for free licences for over 75's then they should be upfront about their policy. However, passing the buck onto the BBC is underhand and risks undermining the BBC's financial viability to provide what the license fee payer expects."
Alistair Cameron, Welsh Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire has called for urgent changes to Universal Credit following revelations that the number of people seeking emergency food has increased by 25% since it was rolled out in Pembrokeshire between September and November last year.
Alistair visited the Milford Haven Headquarters of Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship (PATCH) where Tracy Olin said there had been a 25% increase in the demand for food from PATCH (which also provides clothes and household essentials) since the introduction of Universal Credit.
Philip Alston, the United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has just delivered a damning report on poverty in Britain:-
“There are 14 million people living in poverty, record levels of hunger and homelessness, falling life expectancy for some groups, ever fewer community services, and greatly reduced policing, while access to the courts for lower-income groups has been dramatically rolled back by cuts to legal aid.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds made her first official visit to Pembrokeshire on Thursday 4th April, when she met local party members at the Mariner's Hotel in Haverfordwest. Jane was welcomed to the meeting by Pembrokeshire Local Party Chair, Andrew Lye.
Last Saturday, 23 coaches from Wales, including from West Wales, went to London to take part in the Put it to the People March in favour of a People’s Vote on whether we wish to leave the European Union. These campaigners joined over a million people from across the country including British citizens living abroad. Edward Sides walked from Swansea to London and others rode bikes from Sheffield to London.