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  • Article: Jul 22, 2019
    By Vince Cable in

    The Brexit Crisis and stepping down on a high note

    A decade ago we all knew that there was an economic crisis. Banks were collapsing. Credit was drying up. Bankruptcies. Job losses. Escalating budget deficits. A big drop in the currency. You didn't need a Nobel Prize in economics to realise that something was terribly amiss. It was the biggest financial crisis in over a century, and the biggest drop in production and incomes since the interwar period.

    Six years on: the end of the Coalition.

    Were we still in crisis mode or not? On the one hand: a rapid recovery in the economy; a big drop in unemployment; lots of investment, business start-ups and general optimism. But also wages (accounting for inflation) lower than before the crisis, the pain of years of cuts in public spending; austerity.

    We are now in a very unusual economic environment.

    My preferred metaphor was that the economy had suffered the economic equivalent of a heart attack. It had survived but was still attached to the life-saving drip feed of ultra-cheap and abundant artificial money.

    Then to the EU referendum.

    Armageddon didn't happen. But there was the biggest devaluation since the war and subsequent cuts in living standards from the cost of imported goods. A lot of uncertainty, leading three years later to the present state of extreme political uncertainty, paralysis of decision-making in government and Parliament and investors stalling on investment.

    We are now in a very unusual economic environment which doesn't easily fit with what most of us see taught or teach, and appears in economic textbooks.

    First of all, there appears to be emerging, based on particular data, a recession defined as two successive quarters of falling output. But it is an economy very close to full employment. The popular view of recession is of slump and long dole queues. That may be to come. But we seem to be entering a different kind of recession in which output falls, not because of a lack of demand-spending, but because of restrictions in supply: labour and skill shortages; lack of ability or willingness by companies to invest in the capacity to produce more goods and services.

    The likelihood is that what we are seeing is a pre-slump.

    The big shock of a 'no deal' or 'hard' Brexit - if a new PM were to succeed in making it happen - will produce a very sharp fall in the economy. The new enthusiasm from leading Conservatives, as well as Labour, for populist, deficit financed budgets will further erode confidence in the economy.

    The Bank of England will be under intense pressure both to raise interest rates to stop currency collapse and to cut them further to keep the economy afloat: an acute dilemma which could open the way to a more politically pliant Governor, and further loss of confidence.

    Mr Johnson may be leading us into a wasted decade.

    As the currency tumbles, import costs rise cutting living standards. With weak domestic spending, little investment, EU markets disappearing and other overseas markets closing because of trade and currency warfare we are then set fair for a full-scale slump. Add in some highly leveraged companies and property and - still- high government debt levels, the risks are increased and the freedom to manoeuvre reduced.

    Mr Johnson may be leading us into a 'wasted decade' worse than the financial crisis.

    On a personal level I have been preparing for the handover to a new party leader.

    A lot of warm words and genuine affection from colleagues, party activists and members of the public who give me credit for going out on a high, with the prospects for a big breakthrough for the party after the local and Euro elections.

    I have been undertaking a final round of leader's visits across the country, celebrating the real heroes of our campaigning and our success - the grassroots activists.

    I have been to Brecon where a major by-election victory is within grasp. Then to Coventry to visit the massive Bhattacharya centre at Warwick University, where 1000 engineers are working on a new generation of electrical and autonomous vehicles: this is one of the really solid Coalition legacies from the industrial strategy and the catapult network. And finally to the Westcountry, to Taunton and Wells in Somerset where the Lib Dem revival is in full swing and parliamentary gains for Gideon Amos and Tessa Munt are in prospect.

    Soon we shall know who our new leader is.

    I look forward to working with them, and with members all round the country, to build on our present success, to stop Brexit and to bring about a liberal, social democratic, internationalist Britain of which we can all be proud.

  • Leigh & West Leigh Focus Summer 2019 ()
    Article: Jul 22, 2019

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  • Article: Jul 18, 2019
    By Jonathon Read in

    The petition to revoke Article 50 has broken records again - by becoming the largest in history to be presented to parliament - with still a month to go.

    The petition was already the biggest petition on the official parliament e-petition website.

    It has almost 6.1 million signatures - nearly 13% of the electorate - with still a month to go until the official deadline.

  • Article: Jul 18, 2019
    By Tom Brake, MP in

    It's time to stop Brexit

    Join us on Saturday 20th of July, as we march for our place in the EU - and tell the new Prime Minister to put a halt to this Brexit mess.Messenger

    When we think of great moments of political upheaval, social change and protests for justice, the images which often come to mind are marches. There is something acutely powerful about seeing so many come together to create, for one moment in time, a community of like-minded people. A crowd which passionately believes in a common cause will have its cause noticed. Marches become beacons of free speech and spawn mass movements which captivate people's attention.

    These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today's challenges.

    We saw this recently in Westminster with the march for climate change, and at the pride marches around the country, as a rainbow of people flow through the streets of Britain every summer. These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today's challenges.

    While their disruptive methods caused frustration and, for some, may have overstepped the mark, no one can deny that Extinction Rebellion made people start discussing the environment around the kitchen table. It couldn't be clearer that when people take a stand, they become impossible to ignore.

    I was so proud to join more than a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People's Vote.

    My first march was 30-and-a-bit years ago with Amnesty International, highlighting the plight of prisoners of conscience abroad. Last month, as one of over 100 MPs I strode in solidarity to meet Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy, during his hunger strike in protest at his wife's continued shocking and unlawful detention. I was also incredibly proud to be at the largest march this country has ever seen, back in 2003, against the Iraq war, when Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats led the political protest in the face of overwhelming criticism from the Tory and Labour parties.

    But I was even prouder, earlier this year, to be part of the largest march seen in the UK since then - when over a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People's Vote.

    And that's why I'm delighted the Lib Dems will be joining thousands of others on July 20 at the March for Change - unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.

    We're unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.

    Again the Lib Dems were prominent, just as we have been dominant in the fight against Brexit since the day after the referendum three years ago. Back then, many people described our position as desperate, out on a limb while Jeremy Corbyn urged that Article 50 be triggered immediately. Yet over time, more people joined our cause, our rallies became bigger and we made more allies in our fight against a government increasingly committed to the most chaotic of Brexits. Our message has grown louder and more people have taken to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name and not what the majority want.

    We will take to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name

    Some will disregard the marchers' voices. The Tory candidates to be our prime minister are putting rocket boosters on their campaigns to reach the dreaded No Deal cliff-edge sooner. Jeremy Corbyn is choosing to bury his head even deeper in the sand.

    We the Lib Dems not only hear those voices, we are channelling their energy.

    I am proud to be the anti-Brexit spokesperson of the largest, loudest and proudest party committed to demanding better than Brexit and diverting us from the disastrous trajectory we've taken. More and more people are rallying behind our banner as we inch closer than ever to stopping Brexit.

    So, when we march in just a few weeks' time on July 20, we will do so with a more purposeful stride. I hope you will join us.

    Join us on 20th July as we march to Stop Brexit

    RSVP here

  • Stephen Robinson and Rose Moore in front of a visual record of the Chelmsford meeting that declared a cliimate emergency
    Article: Jul 17, 2019

    A climate and ecology emergency has been declared in Chelmsford. This was voted through at a meeting of Chelmsford City Council last night (Tuesday 16 July). The move comes as a growing number of UK councils have formally recognised the urgent need to reduce global temperature increases if we are to avert major disaster.

  • Article: Jul 16, 2019
    By Hilary Shibata

    Mythical beasts were the main attraction at the "Stop Brexit" stall in Saffron Walden on Saturday 13th July. Local Lib Dems were talking to residents about the fairy-tale proposals of the Conservative leadership candidates, and publicising the big March For Change in London on Saturday 20th July.

    A lot of people are worried that both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt would be prepared to take us out of the EU without a deal. "That would really damage our economy and our international reputation" said Hilary Shibata. "It's a myth that they can renegotiate Brexit, or have tariff-free trade if we crash out without a deal. Those are very dangerous unicorns to believe in! Many people are already feeling the effects of Brexit on their jobs, their lives, and their future choices. There's a big difference between people who feel themselves shielded in the short term, and those already feeling the impact."

  • Article: Jul 12, 2019

    This will be followed by a wake at the Chalkwell Park Rooms in Chalkwell Park, Leigh-on-Sea. As well as refreshments and general conversation there will be a chance for people to share their memories of Chris. We hope that friends will bring their thoughts and stories and be prepared to share them if they would like to.

  • Moden library (Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash)
    Article: Jul 11, 2019
    The Liberal Democrat councillors at Essex County Council welcome the Conservative U-turn on the closure of libraries in Essex and the guarantee that all 74 libraries will remain open.
    The Lib Dems believe this victory is down to the local residents and interest groups across Essex campaigning to keep the libraries open.
  • Article: Jul 10, 2019
    In Essex County Council

    During Essex County Council's Council meeting yesterday, Tuesday 9 July, Essex County Council's Leader Cllr David Finch announced radical changes to the libraries strategy, including the commitment that no library will close for five years.

    Click here for full details.

  • Eastwood Park Focus Summer 2019 ()
    Article: Jul 9, 2019

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