Where are we now with Brexit?

Roger Putnam writes in this week’s Whitehaven News:

It is over 12 months since the UK voted narrowly to leave the EU, and 5 months since Mrs May triggered Article 50, setting the 2 year deadline for BREXIT for March 2019. Yet we see little progress in deciding the precise form that BREXIT should take.

We have still to agree on the rights Europeans in Britain and British residents in Europe should retain. The future of the border on the island of Ireland is deeply contentious. The size of the so-called UK ‘exit bill’, the amount the UK should pay for commitments already entered into, is highly controversial – not helped by juvenile comments from our Foreign Secretary, about ‘having our cake and eating it’ or suggesting the EU ‘go whistle’ for its money. Indeed, the ill-judged approach adopted by our ministerial negotiating team has been superficial and confrontational rather than seeking sensible compromise.

The true cost of leaving Europe becomes steadily clearer. The awesome complexity of ending a 44 year economic and political union, compounded by our serious lack of civil service and negotiating resources, will dominate parliamentary activity, at the cost of other much-needed legislation. The recent EU Withdrawal Bill will be followed by seven other major BREXIT bills in this parliament, covering immigration, agriculture, trade and customs.

The cost of separating from our EU trading partners, currently taking 44% of our exports, is now emerging. Such is the present level of uncertainty, economic growth is slowing dramatically whilst inflation erodes incomes; business and economic confidence and investment are suffering; the pound continues to fall against other currencies; major banks are already setting up alternative office hubs in other European capitals; NHS recruitment is falling dramatically; agriculture is deeply concerned about loss of seasonal European workers and loss of subsidy.

There are also 35 European regulatory bodies needing replacement. New UK bodies, covering medicines, aviation safety and financial services for example, will still need to replicate EU rules to maintain cross-border equivalence. A special issue here in Cumbria is the related decision to pull out of the Euratom treaty, which established the European Atomic Energy Commission. Wisely, the House of Commons Energy select committee is urging the Government to re-examine this, as it would entail disruption of supplies of reactor materials, nuclear fuel and medical isotopes vital for the treatment of cancer. Liberal Democrats are committed to remain within the Euratom Treaty.

These complex issues appear to have been ignored by too many ministers, blithely marching us toward consequences that they appear not to recognise. At the very least, we will require an extended transitional period to sort them all out, as now seems to be accepted by government. This period, in the view of the Liberal Democrats, should include a further public consultation and a comprehensive parliamentary debate including the option to remain within a reformed EU, rather than persisting with this deeply damaging BREXIT process, based on the ‘leave’ vote of just 37% of the electorate.

A final thought, from a recent newspaper letter; “The real monument to those who lost their lives at Passchendaele is not the Menin Gate, it’s the European Union. For the EU has been a damn sight more successful at stopping the pointless slaughter of Europeans.”

An Election campaign like no other.


We are coming to the end of a General Election campaign like no other. The absolutely vital issues in
Copeland, such as the future of our Health and Care services; the possible downgrading of the West
Cumberland Hospital; the desperate difficulties which will be faced by many schools; all these have been
overshadowed by too many over-riding questions about Mrs May, and her hard and negative attitude as
she sets out to determine our future relationship with our European neighbours.

Do not be misled into thinking that only the Conservatives can provide this country and this constituency
of Copeland with a positive and successful way forward. The Tory record on managing the NHS and our
Education service is appalling. And their headlong rush to cut our country off in every way from Europe,
such as reneging on the Euratom arrangements, is utterly wrong.

Our health and care services are in crisis. Schools are facing further massive cuts in funding. Yet this is the
sixth richest country in the world. At the heart of these problems lies the unwillingness of the government
to work towards a fairer society, with a level of taxation right across the community which will fund proper
public services.

The Lib Dems are absolutely committed to making life better and fairer for everyone. Only the Lib Dems
have a credible and costed plan to properly fund our public services and to fix their underlying problems.
Only the Lib Dems are fighting hard to limit the damaging effects of Brexit.

It has been a privilege to work with so many outstanding people in local schools, and in the ongoing
campaign to save proper services at West Cumberland Hospital. I have spent many years working hard
both professionally and personally to make things better. As your member of Parliament I could do so
much more. This election has not been just about one person, our Prime Minister, athough she has tried to
make it so. It is about all of us, the people, our Copeland community and our future together.

Rebecca Hanson
(West Cumbria Liberal Democrats).
END OF NEWS RELEASE
Published and promoted by Roger Putnam on behalf of Rebecca Hanson (Liberal Democrats) at Bower Bank, Irton, HOLMROOK, Cumbria CA19 1TD

We are not electing a President!

Roger Putnam’s current letter in the Whitehaven News:

Madam,
We are about to elect a government, not a President!
I recently received a remarkable personal election letter from our Prime Minister Mrs May. In this she set out her claim to deliver so-called  ‘strong and stable leadership’, but made no mention of the party which she leads. I can find no reference at all in this letter to the term ‘Conservative’.
This letter is the nearest any British party leader in my memory has come to requesting quasi-presidential powers, and not those appropriate to a democratic party leader answerable to parliament. Traditionally, the Prime Minister of Britain has been seen as ‘the first among equals’ and not the single arbiter of our national future.
The fact is that the next government cannot be solely concerned with the future relationship of Britain with Europe. We need to be wary of allowing a Conservative leader with a five year mandate to continue a programme which will further undermine the coherence and effectiveness of our education system, continue with the mismanagement of our precious NHS, ignore the needs of young people, and persist with the privatisation of key public services, such as prisons and probation, which should clearly remain in the public sector. Voters should realise the ongoing damage that presenting the Tories with a large majority will cause to our economy and to our communities, especially in needy areas.
What is more, Mrs May and her present Brexit team show few of the skills of negotiation needed to deal with the Brexit question. Her autocratic approach, so evident in her letter, is almost bound to secure a bad deal in leaving the European Union.
This momentous Brexit decision seems to me to be wholly mis-guided. It is not far-fetched but highly likely that it will lead to the acrimonious break-up of the UK, the further collapse of the exchange rate with consequent price inflation, and the departure of major companies and financial institutions to other locations in Europe if we continue on the present course. Surely we all, and especially the young, should have the final say. This momentous decision should certainly not be left to the judgement of the presidential Mrs May!
Roger Putnam
West Cumbria Liberal Democrats
‘Bower Bank’ Irton
HOLMROOK
Cumbria  CA19 1TD
Tel.  019467 23361

Rebecca Hanson for Copeland: General Election Candidate Profile.

Rebecca Hanson, 44, is a Liberal Democrat County Councillor and a well known health campaigner in West Cumbria who also has a successful career as a teacher, lecturer and education advisor.

Rebecca grew up in a deprived area of Newcastle but went on to study Mathematics and Management at Cambridge University. There she met a Cumbrian sheep farmer’s son who tempted her to move to the Copeland Constituency.

Rebecca taught mathematics in Copeland’s secondary schools and was the last Head of Mathematics at Ehenside School in Cleator Moor, which she helped to bring out of Special Measures.  Rebecca then went on to lecture in Education and consult on national education policies.  When the consultation process was shut down by Michael Gove she joined the Lib Dems and served on their national Education Association Committee where she worked tirelessly to reduce the damage of poor Tory education policy.

Rebecca now runs an education advisory business which provides highly regarded teacher training in primary schools across Cumbria.  She is also an experienced local Councillor and the elected Cumbria County Councillor for Cockermouth North.

Rebecca has been driving forward the challenge to the closure of maternity and paediatric services at West Cumberland Hospital by writing and publicising key risk assessments. She has used her political experience to change the minds of senior Health managers and NHS inspectors.

Rebecca has substantial experience of consulting on nuclear issues.  She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, as one of their digital champions, she wrote a detailed analysis of the collapse of the consultation on how to deal with our nuclear waste.

Rebecca is married to one of the UK’s most experienced nuclear engineers.  They have 5 children between them.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaForCopeland/

Twitter: @hanson4copeland

Lib Dems will tackle the education funding crisis in Cumbria

Lib Dems will invest £42 million to protect school funding in Cumbria

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest over £42 million more in schools and colleges in Cumbria over the next parliament.

The funding for Cumbria would reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.

£2,735,000 of the funding would be spent on protecting the Pupil Premium, introduced by the Liberal Democrats to help the most disadvantaged children.

Rebecca Hanson, Parliamentary Candidate for Copeland said:

“Children in Cumbria are being taught in overcrowded classes by overworked teachers – but Theresa May doesn’t care.

“Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, while billions of pounds are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammar schools and free schools.

“This extra £42 million of funding would ensure no school and no child loses out.

“We will reverse crippling Conservative cuts to school budgets and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

“I am personally appalled by the crisis in education and commit to do all in my power to support our schools in the future.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

“A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to take parents across the country for granted and cut our schools to the bone.

“Only the Liberal Democrats can provide the strong opposition Britain needs to stand up for Cumbria.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Liberal Democrats will invest £6.9bn more in our schools and colleges over the next parliament, to ensure no school and no child loses out. A breakdown of local figures on additional funding by local authority can be found here.

Over the course of the Parliament, we will:

  • Protect per pupil funding in real terms in schools (£3.31bn)
  • Protect further education per pupil funding in real terms (£660m)
  • Ensure no school loses out from the National Funding Formula (£1.26bn)
  • Protect the pupil premium in real terms (£415m)

These plans will be fully costed in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, which will be launched in due course and set all our spending plans out in more detail. This will include reversing the Government’s proposed funding for new grammar schools.

A report by the National Audit Office has found school budgets will be slashed by £3bn in real terms by 2019-20 – the equivalent to reducing spending by 8 per cent per pupil, under current government plans (link)

Rebecca Hanson, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Copeland, taught in secondary schools in Copeland before becoming a Lecturer in Education and an Education Advisor.  She served on the Liberal Democrats Education Association Committee and worked to challenge Michael Gove’s education chaos for three years during the coalition government.

 

General Election Candidates Announcement

Date: Monday 8th May 2017
NEWS RELEASE
LIB DEMS ANNOUNCE WORKINGTON AND COPELAND PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES

West Cumbria Liberal Democrats have announced their Parliamentary Candidates for Workington and Copeland.

Rebecca Hanson, who fought the recent Copeland by-election, will be standing in Copeland again. Phill Roberts will be the parliamentary candidate in Workington.

Rebecca Hanson is well-known for her campaigning work to save services at West Cumbria Hospital. She has an impressive professional and political track record both in West Cumbria and at national level. She became the County Councillor for Cockermouth North in last Thursday’s election after achieving a 34% swing to the Liberal Democrats.

Phill Roberts was Chair of Cumbria Liberal Democrats and is a prominent local campaigner on many issues. He achieved a 33% swing to the Liberal Democrats in the Aspatria County Council division last Thursday.

West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Chair Elizabeth Barraclough said:
“I’m delighted to have such excellent candidates in place for the general election on June 8th.

“Liberal Democrats will be campaigning hard on our key policy issues which include an extra £6bn per year ring-fenced for the NHS, improving provision for care and for public health, and challenging the damaging aspects of Brexit.

“We’ve had a huge surge in Liberal Democrat membership here in West Cumbria and many of our new members can’t wait to start campaigning in this election.”

ENDS

Contact for Workington:
Elizabeth Barraclough. 017687 72771. Mobile 07786 347 002
[email protected]
Contact for Copeland:
Roger Putnam. 01946 723 361 Mobile 07896 957 557. [email protected]

Trouble in Copeland

West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Press Release.

Trudy Harrison Failing in Copeland

Trudy Harrison is failing in her bid to be ‘Copeland’s Strong Voice’ because she doesn’t understand the issues.

She is angering voters by announcing road improvements which are not in her constituency and writing to people encouraging them to vote Conservative instead of responding to her own constituents’ issues.

Elizabeth Barraclough, West Cumbria Liberal Democrats’ Chair said:

“In her first two months as MP, the ‘theyworkforyou.com’ website reported that Trudy did not speak in any debates, attend any committee meetings or contribute to any early day motions.  Meanwhile the MP for Stoke (who was elected at the same time) spoke 19 times in debates, supported 3 early day motions and attended 6 committee meetings. Trudy’s maiden speech contained no information about how she intends to address any of the issues Copeland faces.

“The Conservatives were clearly desperate for a candidate during the Copeland by-election and can’t have done the usual checks.

“Copeland needs an MP who understands how to sort out Copeland’s unique nuclear, NHS, education and infrastructure issues.

“Liberal Democrats warned Trudy that the government’s own official advice was that it is not necessary to leave the Euratom agreement as part of Brexit, that it is not realistic to make alternative arrangements in 2 years and that leaving Euratom will cause tremendous damage to our nuclear industry.  The press reported Trudy’s announcement that it would be fine to leave Euratom if we set up a UK nuclear regulator. She had failed to notice that we have a respected nuclear regulator even though the official advice to the government was given by that regulator.   Unfortunately this is typical for Trudy.  She doesn’t understand the issues.

“We need to work together to make sure voters can elect a strong MP for Copeland.  We would welcome conversations with other parties.”

ENDS

Health Campaigners Fight for County Seats

Councillors Roberts and Hanson at a recent private meeting with health chiefs about the Success Regime consultation.

West Cumbrian Health Campaigners Phill Roberts and Rebecca Hanson are fighting hard for Cumbria County Council Seats in the elections on May 4th.

Councillors Roberts is contesting the Apastria seat where he lives and is a well known activist, organiser and Councillor.

Councillor Hanson is contesting Cockermouth North where she lives, which contains the Cockermouth Christ Church town seat she won in a recent by-election.

An excellent by-election result

Copeland vote change 2015 general election to 2017 by-election

The Liberal Democrats were the only party to increase their 2015 general election vote in Copeland during the recent by-election as they returned to 3rd place in the polls.

During the dark months when it was difficult to canvass in the evenings, candidate Rebecca Hanson used Facebook Live to take and answer questions from voters in real time.

You can look at the campaign here on Facebook and you can watch the recordings of the Facebook Lives here on youtube.