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Today's Headlines

May 22, 2020 8:03 PM
By Danny Simm

Today stats released by the ONS highlight:
- Deficit/debt for April: highest monthly borrowing on record (going back to 1993)
- Retail sales for April: down 18% to a record low

  • These figures show the devastating impact this crisis is having on our economy. People and businesses across the country are facing financial hardship, and it's right that the Government is using its ability to borrow money very cheaply to help save jobs.
  • We must make sure that no one is left behind as we tackle this cruel virus. The Government must extend its support for self-employed people in line with the furlough scheme, and expand it to cover those who are currently left out, including the newly self-employed.
  • As we recover from this crisis, it will be essential that the Government continues to invest to protect jobs and build a fairer, greener and more productive economy that works for everyone.

Migrant NHS & social care workers must be given right to remain

The Government has u-turned and will exempt NHS and care staff from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge

  • This is a positive step from the Government but the PM must go further. All migrants working in the NHS & social care during this crisis should be given the right to stay in the UK, with no visa fees and no bureaucracy.
  • Thousands of NHS and care workers from around the world have made huge sacrifices and put themselves in danger for us. It should be unthinkable that the Home Office would ever force them to leave the country they have served so well.
  • MPs from across Parliament who managed to pressure the Government into the exemption must now focus their attention on giving these heroes the right to remain.

Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their calls for local authorities to be empowered to enact measures that would help tackle the climate emergency as well as recover from the coronavirus crisis. Measures include incentivising councils to support sustainable travel, revitalising high streets and allowing local authorities to close streets to traffic at allocated times.

  • We cannot return to 'normal' following the Covid-19 crisis. The measures introduced by the Transport Secretary to promote the use of sustainable transport are welcome, but without cross departmental buy-in they will fail to have a lasting impact on how we travel.
  • We cannot forget that we are facing a Climate Emergency - this pandemic has highlighted the link between congestion and pollution, public health and the quality of our towns and cities. It is time to take action and reinvest in our community spaces for the next generation.
  • The Liberal Democrats are clear that the Government need take steps to empower local authorities if we are to implement changes which will make our communities more modern, more environmentally-friendly, and more enjoyable places for everyone to spend their time.

Hong Kong power-grab by Beijing condemned
There are reports 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.

  • This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration.
  • The UK has a moral and legal duty to act. 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. Liberal Democrats are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action. As part of this, it is time to reopen the British National Overseas Passport offer and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK.

Parents, children and teachers need answers before schools open

The scientific advice on the safety of reopening schools will be published today,

  • Parents, children and teaching staff are worried about the threat of coronavirus and need reassurances ahead of reopening schools.
  • Liberal Democrats have demanded from the outset that the Government publish the scientific evidence behind their decision to reopen schools. Yet, with just ten days before schools are due to open, parents and teachers are still being kept in the dark.
  • This announcement is so long overdue. We all want to get children back in school but the public need answers, particularly the likely impact on the infection rate of these measures.

Lib Dems condemn failure to properly recognise contribution of foreign nationals working in NHS and care

Last night, the Home Office announced that they are extending the indefinite leave to remain to the families of NHS support staff and social care workers who die as result of contracting coronavirus.

  • This offer adds insult to injury for those who are putting their lives on the line by saying their contribution will only be recognised if they die. That is not good enough.
  • The Government must go much further to recognise the contribution of those caring for our loved ones during this crisis. For example, foreign nationals are on the frontline, caring and providing critical care for our loved ones during a pandemic and the Government should recognise their contribution.
  • The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it. We must recognise the risk that each and every one of our health and care staff are taking by working to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
  • The Home Secretary should give all foreign nationals working in the NHS and social care and their families the indefinite leave to remain in the UK, with no costs or bureaucratic hurdles. It is the very least she can do.