At our Liberal Democrat Spring Conference today, I outlined my vision for building a Fairer, Greener and More Caring country by putting recovery first. Take a look at my commitments here:
An Inquiry into Covid-19
In my speech, I called on Boris Johnson to set up the independent inquiry he promised me in the House of Commons last June. No more excuses. No more delays. The British people deserve answers.
Our country is hurting right now
125,000 lives have been taken by this virus. Each number is a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend. The human cost of Covid-19 is staggering. And it is heart-breaking.
People have also suffered huge financial losses - businesses have closed, jobs have been lost, savings have been destroyed.
But it didn’t have to be this way. The government failed time and again to stop the spread of the virus.
The most vulnerable - elderly people, disabled people – had new patients that had tested positive for Covid-19 brought into their care homes, where they should have been safe.
Boris Johnson must set up an independent inquiry now
National lockdowns were introduced far too late. That’s why the UK’s death rate from coronavirus remains one of the highest in the world.
The government wants to hide its failures in the shadows. We cannot let them get away with it.
We need a public inquiry to learn the lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure that a loss of life on this scale never happens again.
Standing with Women and Ethnic Minorities
This year has shown us how far we have to go to address misogyny and racism in our country. In my speech, I spoke about the seismic importance of the Sarah Everard vigil and its awful aftermath and the Black Lives Matter protests. The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental, democratic right. The Liberal Democrats have always championed this human right and I refuse to sit by and watch as the Conservatives try to undermine everyone else’s freedoms.
We must do better at tackling violence against women
The shocking, tragic killing of Sarah Everard has rocked the nation, forcing us to confront the daily reality of violence and harassment faced by women. We should be listening to women, not arresting them at a peaceful vigil in Sarah Everard’s name. Enough is enough. We must do better as a country to tackle violence against women.
This isn’t the first time we've seen police overreact to peaceful protest. We saw it just last year when people from across the country took to the streets to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Black Lives Matter protests laid bare the gaping racial inequality in the UK - a reality made even clearer by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And as men, we have to do better. Listening to women. Calling out other men. Never turning a blind eye.
We should be standing in solidarity in the face of racial injustice, and in the face of misogyny, not shutting down peaceful and democratic processes.
The contempt this Government has shown towards the right to protest is deeply troubling.
Instead of defending this right, the Home Secretary has introduced her Protest Crackdown Law to undermine it further. Liberal Democrat MPs voted against it, and this weekend, our members have passed a motion calling on the Government to drop the Bill, seeing it for what it is - an attempt to undermine our democracy.
A Plan for Recovery
I thanked the NHS workers and volunteers who have injected hope into our lives as they work tirelessly delivering vaccines.
Thanks to their hard work, we can think about life after the pandemic.
After so much hurt, we need hope.
And looking forward, to our vision of a fairer, greener, more caring country.
I reaffirmed my commitment to building a country with good jobs and opportunity for all, that supports small businesses.
Recovery also means a green recovery.
I want to see a future where we invest in exciting new technologies, insulate every home and create secure, well-paid green jobs in every part of the UK.
And of course, where would we be without our NHS and social care workers? This weekend our conference has passed a motion demanding Boris Johnson give our fantastic healthcare workers a real pay rise .
How can he find billions for contracts for his Tory cronies, but not for the amazing people who have put their lives on the line for us?
The Nationalists are obsessed with independent - they won’t put recovery first
The Conservatives are completely out of touch with the needs of the British people. It’s clear that the Government has put Brexit first, ahead of the UK’s recovery.
Meanwhile, the SNP are fixated with the break-up of the UK.
They too will not put Britain’s recovery first.
Only the Liberal Democrats will unite the country and put recovery first.
Repairing the Damage done by Brexit
This weekend, our members have passed a new motion, strengthening the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to keeping close ties with the EU.
In January – the first month of Johnson’s deal – these barriers cost British exporters £5bn.
We remain the UK’s most pro-EU party and we understand just how critical trade with our closest neighbours is for so many businesses and jobs throughout the UK.
In January – the first month of Johnson’s deal – these new barriers cost British exporters more than five billion pounds.
Liberal Democrats remain a strongly pro-European party.
I’m proud that the Liberal Democrats voted against Johnson’s destructive Brexit deal and are leading the argument for rebuilding our trade relationships.
We must have a close relationship with the EU, so we can put the UK’s recovery first.
Tackling the Climate Emergency
Boris Johnson has recently started to talk about addressing the climate crisis.
We need to face up to the existential threat of climate change.
But it’s all talk.
And the achievements he boasts about?
They were delivered by Liberal Democrat ministers.
And what’s more, the Conservatives have scrapped many of the effective policies we put in place from the Zero Carbon Homes Law to our Green Investment Bank, which they privatised.
We invested billions of pounds to help make the UK the world leader in offshore wind, generating four times as much clean, renewable power, making offshore wind now is even cheaper than gas and creating thousands of good new jobs in the process, in parts of the country that needed them most.
The UK can lead the way in tackling the climate crisis, just as we did when the Lib Dems were in Government.
Just last month, an auction for the right to build wind farms off the coast of England and Wales attracted bids far higher than anyone expected, raising nine billion pounds.
I believe that money should go towards a Sovereign Wealth Fund, ready to invest in green initiatives up and down the country, attracting private investment and sparking a positive cycle of economic growth in the UK.
Let’s put recovery first - a green recovery - leading to Fairer, Greener, more Caring Britain.
We know that the future can be better than the past.
We need Liberal Democrats to make it happen.
This is the brighter, hopeful vision our country needs.
From Holyrood to the Senedd to the London Assembly to your local council, our communities need elected Liberal Democrats to push forward Britain’s recovery.
That’s why, as May’s bumper crop of elections approaches, we must knock on every door, speak to every voter and deliver every leaflet.
Our communities need us to win.
If you believe that Britain deserves a Fairer, Greener, more Caring future, join us today and help get as many Liberal Democrat MPs as possible elected this May.