FAQs: Giving the people the final say on the Brexit deal

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

What was the amendment on Monday evening?

Amendment 50 of the EU Withdrawal Bill Report Stage in the House of Lords put the option of the public final say on the deal before the House of Commons. This would include an extension of Article 50 so that there would be time for the vote to be held before the UK is due to leave the EU.

The amendment was a cross-party initiative, the lead names on it were Lord Newby (Leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the Lords); Viscount Hailsham (Conservative), Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru), Lord Butler of Brockwell (Crossbencher).

Why should the public be given the final say?

Theresa May and the Conservatives are making a mess of Brexit.

When a deal is finally agreed we still believe it should be the public, not politicians, who have the final say.

You should be able to choose whether the deal is the right deal for Britain’s future. If it’s not, then you should be able to reject it and remain in the European Union.

Why did the amendment get voted down?

If Labour had supported the amendment, it would have passed. But the Labour frontbench sat on their hands and made it harder to give the British people the final say on the Brexit deal.

What does this mean for Brexit?

It means that, for the time being, the public have not been given the final say on the Brexit deal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to give the British public the final say and the chance to Exit from Brexit.

Will the EU accept the outcome of a vote on the deal?

Key EU figures have said that they would welcome the UK’s decision to remain in the EU. French President Emmanuel Macron has said “the door remains open” for Britain to change its mind about Brexit.

What happens next?

The Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for an Exit from Brexit. To help us win that fight, donate to our campaign today:

Lib Dems come closer than ever to giving the people the final say on the Brexit deal

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Yesterday evening just a handful of votes stopped us from giving the British public the final say on the Brexit deal.

If the Labour leadership had voted with us last night, the amendment would have passed. But they didn’t.

On this key issue, the Labour party has gone missing in action.

At the outset of our campaign, few believed we would get this close. But the momentum is now with us.

This vote has shown that since we last voted on the issue a year ago there has been a large shift in favour of giving the people the final say on any Brexit deal.

60% of the British public now believe it is right that they have the final say on a Brexit deal.

Over the coming months, we’ll have more opportunities to secure people the final say on the Brexit deal.

We can do it, we are making a difference.

Votes like last night show just how close things are getting. The Government is weak and soon they will have to face the undeniable right of the British public to have their say. It’s the right thing for democracy and the right thing for our country.

Why we need to ban upskirting

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Upskirting is the act of taking a photo up a woman’s skirt without her consent.

In 2009 it was made illegal in Scotland but shockingly it remains legal in England and Wales.

Authorities can ask a perpetrator to delete the photo but under current law no further prosecution is possible.

Police have managed to prosecute some people for upskirting for outraging public decency. But this is patently absurd as it should not matter how public it was or who else saw it. This also ignores the fact this is a crime with a victim.

Police are stuck trying to prosecute a sexual offence with a public nuisance order.

The law should focus on the individual victims and the crime committed against them because it is their body that is being taken advantage of without their consent.

Some Ministers have tried to claim that police need better training, but this is simply not true.

Police and Crime Commissioners from across the country have called for upskirting to become a specific offence as it is so difficult to prosecute with the law as it currently stands.

Due to the lack of a clear legal framework around the issue, the actual number of offences taking place each year is likely to be much higher.

Girls as young as ten have been targeted by this horrific crime.

Police are not required to keep a record of the reports they receive. The Press Association’s FOI found that only 15 of 44 police forces in England and Wales recorded upskirting reports in the last two years.

Girls as young as ten have been targeted by this horrific crime.

Upskirting causes emotional distress and leaves a lasting impact.

It is time the law is changed to criminalise this distressing and disgusting practice.

Britain is stronger with the back-stop of EU law

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

In the face of further defeats on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, and following further pressure from Peers across the House of Lords, the government has brought forward amendments to ensure that the UK still has the ability to refer to and apply EU guidance for legal matters in our courts going forwards.

The government has rightly accepted that following EU guidance for legal matters in our courts and tribunals is not a ‘soft Brexit’.

Instead, it is a welcome acknowledgement of the benefits of a number of laws that have benefitted the UK and can continue to do so.

Over the past week, the government has been defeated five times in the House of Lords, uniting members from all parties and none on a range of issues.

There are many experts in the House of Lords that have correctly identified that Britain is stronger with the back-stop of EU law, something that Liberal Democrats have argued throughout the Brexit process.

We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement of this.

Over the past week, the government has been defeated five times in the House of Lords, uniting members from all parties and none on a range of issues.

Clearly, across the House, there is a strong belief that it is not too late to turn back from the Tory’s disastrous approach to Brexit.

For the country and the government, there is a way out, and that is giving the people the final say, with a vote on the final deal.

Third Withdrawal Bill defeat in a week for the Government

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Liberal Democrats have voted with a majority of cross-party Peers in the House of Lords to inflict another defeat on the government.

An amendment to retain the Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law was successfully moved and is the third defeat for the government in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords at Report Stage.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights has been a key component of EU law since 2000 and has set the bar on civil, political, social and economic rights.

The UK’s continued use of this piece of legislation shows the rest of the world that we are still committed to the highest standards on human rights and the principles of the Charter going forward.

The amendment the Lords have passed is as follows:

Clause 5, LORD PANNICK, LORD GOLDSMITH, BARONESS LUDFORD, LORD DEBEN

Page 3, line 20, leave out subsections (4) and (5) and insert—

“( ) The following provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights are not part of<

domestic law on or after exit day—

(a) the Preamble, and

(b) Chapter V.”

Barnstorming double by-election win!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Liberal Democrats won two of the council by-elections that were held last night (with one still to declare!), gaining two seats from the Conservatives!

The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition – because people know when they elect Liberal Democrats, they’re electing someone who’ll get things done for their community!

Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country.

#WinningHere

Lymm South (Warrington) result:

LDEM: 42.8% (+10.4)

CON: 36.2% (-2.3)

LAB: 18.3% (-1.1)

UKIP: 1.4% (-8.3)

GRN: 1.3% (+1.3)

LDem GAIN from Con.

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) April 19, 2018

And #WinningThere

Thatcham West (West Berkshire) result:

LDEM: 48.4% (+9.7)

CON: 30.9% (-16.9)

GRN: 7.7% (+7.7)

LAB: 7.7% (-5.9)

UKIP: 5.4% (+5.4)

LDem GAIN from Con.

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) April 19, 2018

With the 2018 local elections taking place in just a few days time – and many of the votes already cast, the Liberal Democrats have never been more up for the fight.

Your support today could make the difference in those elections. Be a voter for the Lib Dems on May 3rd and elect someone who’ll get things done for your community!

Vince Cable speech: break-up the big tech monopolies

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

He criticised the effective monopolies enjoyed by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon – comparing their market dominance to that of big oil companies in the past – and suggested ways they could be broken up.

“Data is the new oil. Data is the raw material which drives these firms and it is control of data which gives them an advantage over competitors. These companies have acquired their pivotal position by providing a service or platform through which data can be extracted, collected and used.

Just as Standard Oil once cornered 85% of the refined oil market, today Google drives 89% of internet search, 95% of young adults on the internet use a Facebook product, Amazon accounts for 75% of E-book sales, while Google and Apple combined provide 99% of mobile operating systems.

National government and, even more so, supranational bodies like the EU can and should look to break up enterprises where size is detrimental to the economic well-being of the country, its citizens and its capacity for innovation.

There is a case for splitting Amazon into three separate businesses – one offering cloud computing, one acting as a general retailer and one offering a third-party marketplace. Other examples would be Facebook being forced to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp as a condition for operating in the EU, creating two new social media networks. Divesting Google of YouTube would be another.

What is striking that the most effective competition authority in the capitalist world – the European Commission – is probably the only body with the clout to take these decisions. The UK could quite obviously never do it alone.

Britain commits an act of serious self-harm by doggedly setting itself apart from the power of shared sovereignty with our neighbours.

When it comes to regulating the growth industry of this century – data – Brexit will be like giving up shared influence over where, when and whether it rains, in return for absolute power over a compact umbrella.”

Download the full speech here

Second defeat in one night for the Government on Brexit!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

An amendment providing enhanced protections for employment, equality, health and safety entitlements, rights and protections, and consumer and environmental standards has been passed in the Lords.

This is the second defeat today for the government in the EU Withdrawal Bill.

This defeat is a key step in ensuring that parliament plays the key role in Brexit and not just a handful of Ministers altering standards via the back-door.

Guaranteeing that standards relating to equality, employment law and many other things can only be altered via primary legislation is extremely significant and essential to the democratic process.

Help make sure we can deliver even more defeats in the Lords for the Government – sign up to lobby the key peers:

36 years to change a light bulb

West Felton LED street light with Sodium light in the back ground. LED are brighter and better for environment

Better street lighting plan thrown out by Conservatives

This is despite Shropshire Council officers saying upgrades will take 36 years at present rate.

It shouldn't take 36 years to change 18,500 lightbulbs. Above is a recently replaced light in West Felton with an older sodium light in the background. New lights are brighter and more energy efficient
It shouldn’t take 36 years to change 18,500 lightbulbs. Above is a recently replaced light in West Felton with an older sodium light in the background. New lights are brighter and more energy efficient

Large numbers of councils across the UK, including Shropshire’s parish councils, are upgrading their lights to save money on repairs, and energy bills, reduce carbon emissions, light pollution, and crime, and to improve public safety.

Local residents often complain about poor lighting

A recent initiative by Liberal Democrats to convert Shropshire Council’s remaining 7456 street lights to brighter energy-saving LED bulbs within 3 years was thrown out by the Conservatives at a recent meeting of Shropshire Council.

At the present rate officers have said it will take:

36 years to upgrade them!

The Lib Dem move was blocked by Conservatives even though the bulbs that fit our present unconverted lamps will stop being made in June of next year.

At a total cost of £2.05m over three years or just £683k per year, the plan would have saved Shropshire Council £149,120 every year at today’s prices. Once completed, this would give a whopping 7.5% return on the investment. This saving would increase in future years as energy cost rise.

Instead, Tory-run Shropshire has spent £51m on buying shopping centres in Shrewsbury when shopping centres are in decline. Many suggest that present-day rental income will go down. The Council’s Administration also plans to spend another £18m on improving their headquarters in Shirehall.

Contrast that with Kent County Council where Bouyges ‘provided LED street lights for FREE’ clawing the cost back through maintenance contract yet will save £5.2m a year on their energy bills!! Kent County Council is run by the Conservatives.

Shropshire Council Conservatives really need a more enlightened approach to street lights. Taking so long to address a problem when the solution is easy is just plain daft.

Did you know?

  • Councils spend 30% of the annual energy bill on Street Lighting;
  • Savings of 50%-80% on energy bill can be made by switching;
  • LED lights last for 24 years – 7x longer than Sodium lights;
  • LED Light is direct making sure light only goes where needed.

Since last August I have been working with fellow councillors on West Felt on to upgrade the lights owned by them. Hopefully, we can crack on with the upgrade soon and start reaping the benefits.

Read more on streetlight upgrades here: LED street lights must be rolled out

Growing traffic & pothole problems vs £5m cuts in roads

David Walker in West Felton

The state of the roads and the growing pothole problem has once again been featured by the national and local media. For decades Shropshire has had a reputation for poor roads, often readily apparent to road users as they crossed the county border. Yet the Conservatives solution is to make £5m cuts in roads in 2018/19 and in 2019/20!

For Shropshire, they have a colossal road network with some 3,138 miles of road, which has always proven a challenge to maintain. Nearly 3x the bigger the national average and more than double the average for the West Midlands.

This chart and the ones that follow are based on Government OpenData

One big problem Shropshire Council has is that it doesn’t know the age of its roads!

Every road has a life expectancy – roughly 20-40 years depending on traffic levels. This can be extended by a further 20 years by overlaying or planing off and relaying the top layers. Surface dressing or chipping can extend the life expectancy by 5 years at a time. Eventually, every road needs to be dug up and relayed to reset the clock back to zero. They would need to undertake a massive coring program to have a better idea. So they are stuck in a costly and inefficient cycle of temporary resurfacing. In the short-term re-chipping costs about 1/6th of planing. All of these lifespan numbers vary with traffic volume, axle weights, construction and material quality.
Shropshire hasn’t been great at keeping on top of its road maintenance for years. This shows up most when you compare the condition of the roads across networks with planned work. The % of roads that should have been flagged for maintenance for A roads in Shropshire is about average at 4%. The average in England is 3%. However, for B and C roads is 11% and nearly double the average in England. This shows where Shropshire is spending its maintenance money or more significantly where it is not.
The trend for England is downwards but the Trend for Shropshire on B and C roads, in particular, is getting worse. Bad when you consider where Shropshire was already worse than England average.

£5m cuts in roads in 2018/19 and 2019/20

The Conservatives on Shropshire Council have a £59m black hole in their budget. One way they decided to fix this was by cutting the roads budget by £5m in 2018/19 and another £5m in 2019/20. Potty, given the state of the roads. All road users in Shropshire can see the steady decline in the condition of our roads.
As traffic volumes increase and road maintenance budget reduces, the roads will decay more quickly and the pothole problem will accelerate. This situation is unsustainable. Delays in fixing our roads will only mean higher maintenance costs in the long run. This has been happening for decades because they don’t know how old our roads are but this situation will only get dramatically worse. This will potentially lead to higher insurance claims and more accidents where the condition of the road is a factor.
Today Shropshire council has announced a grant for the Government of £1.86m for pothole repairs. The government announced They previously announced £1.34m of that last year. The additional money is very welcome. However, it quite literally doesn’t even touch the sides compared to the scale of the cuts being made.
The Government and Shropshire Council needs to take a proper grip of the situation or the bills for repairs will grow exponentially. Compared to Other areas Shropshire like all other central funding has always had a bad deal.

Queens Head Pothole is dangerous

Take the pothole at Queens Head/Rednal Mile junction as an example:
In March 2009 the pothole was roughly 1/3 of the size it is now.
Google Street view of the pothole in March 2009
Google Street view of the repaired pothole in March 2009
Pothole at Queens Head in March 2009 - Google photo. Previously repair of pothole coloured Green
Another Google view of the repaired pothole – coloured Green

Fast forward 9 years and look at how the pothole has grown!

Pothole at Queens Head 25th of February 2018.
Pothole at Queens Head 25th of February 2018. Green is another previous repair attempt. Orange indicates the area of the old repair that has been scrubbed away exposing the binding layer. Red is the area where the scrubbing is so severe that the sub-base is now exposed.
Substandard maintenance, poor materials, excessive wear from the traffic heading to ABP are all a factor in its growth. This sort of damage doesn’t happen overnight. The damage is so severe that the underlying sub-base is exposed. The sub-base is loose aggregate which can be seen scattered across the road. This presents a danger to all road users and an increased skidding risk. Tear wear increases the damage to the road, as more loose material is dug out, as the wheels spin due to lower traction.
I reported the pothole as dangerous to Shirehall. By the 13th of March, the pothole had been temporarily filled in with compacted loose chippings.
March 13 2018: Compacted loose chippings have been used to fill in the pothole. Even for a temporary repair it isn't the best
13th of March 2018: Compacted loose chippings have been used to fill in the pothole. Even for a temporary repair, it isn’t the best as the puddles indicate. In this situation that repair will only last for a few days.

So I went to have another look a few days later and recorded the above video on the 22nd of March.

By the 22nd of March the temporary repair was already being dug out
By the 22nd of March, the temporary repair was already being dug out

Traffic volumes 2000-2016

(2017 data gets added in May/June 2018)


Cars and particularly Vans are trending upwards at an accelerating rate, whilst HGVs are ticking down.

Excluding the cars shows the upward trend in LGV or Vans. HGVs are trending down but there is a small uptick in 2015-16.

Drilling into the HGVs a bit further… HGV with bigger axel numbers are increasing…

Excluding the 2 axle and 3/4 axle articulated lorries we can see that the trend is clearly up for HGVs with the workload of the former now done by Vans

Overall this shows is the impact of online shopping on journeys and supports what we all know – that retail shops are under severe pressure and that Royal mail delivers many more parcels and fewer letters as more shopping is done online.

What that means for Whittington, West Felton and beyond is worse roads for years to come unless something dramatic happens. Unlikely without a change at local and national level. More expenditure that is out of control and more costly insurance claims.

Pothole insurance claims:

  • 2014: 188 pothole claims. 25 claims against Highways insurance amounted to £31,000.
  • 2015: 159 pothole claims. There were 46 injuries caused by potholes and they paid out £20,721.50 on 6 of those claims.
  • 2016: 179 Pothole claims, 11 of which they accepted liability and paid out over £20,000.
  • 2017: 106 pothole claims.

Update: 2018 Jan – May

Pothole claims shot up by 653% to 798 claims

The total cost of claims rose by staggering 845% to nearly £345,000

Pothole at Queens Head/Rednal Mile Junction in West Felton has grown considerably due to poor roads maintenance and repairs
Pothole at Queens Head/Rednal Mile Junction in West Felton (taken on 25th February 2018)
£m cuts in roads will lead to more pot hole problems. Sub-base aggregate (projectiles) from the pothole thrown across the road and pavement by vehicles presents a hazard and a danger to all road users and adjoining properties.
Sub-base aggregate (projectiles) from the pothole thrown across the road and pavement by vehicles presents a hazard and a danger to all road users and adjoining properties.

Pothole Formation

General wear and tear on roads from increased axle weight, increased traffic volumes, combined with adverse weather conditions – be that too hot or too cold leading to binding tar drying out with age, can all lead to tiny fissures forming in a road surface.

Water penetrated into the surface and freezes. This pushes up the road surface in cold weather. Once this thaws the void below collapse the road when traffic drives across the voids and fissures. Over time the road crumbles or collapses into the voids producing the pothole – initially quite small. Successively this process continues and the hole progressively gets bigger. Once a weakness has formed as standing water in it will explode outwards under compression by a tyre further accelerating the growth of the hole through explosive percussion. Once the pothole is formed the surface with be loose and present a skidding risk as well as a hazard for all road users.

Public Domain image from Wikipedia