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Liberal Democrats

The Weekly Whip

More Brexit problems emerge this week, Lib Dems vote against the “tax-free-shopping” cut, and events in Myanmar and China continue to take turns for the worst.

By Peter Munro, Feb 05, 2021 1:02

Palace of Westminster.

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come.

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 1st February

Monday 1st February

On Monday, strangely, there were no UQs or Ministerial Statements announced. This is the second week in a row where this has happened and, following the weekend’s news about Article 16 and vaccinations, MPs were a little perplexed.

This resulted in more time for MPs to debate topics that the Opposition chose for Opposition Day. For new readers, the Opposition receive an allocation of Parliamentary days to choose their own debate topics. This week they were:

  1. Protecting tenants and leaseholders from unsafe cladding
  2. Covid security at UK borders

Daisy Cooper and Tim Farron have been leading the way regarding the cladding scandal. Daisy took part in the debate for the Lib Dems, noting that families are still in a living nightmare three and a half years on from the Grenfell tragedy.

Alistair Carmichael took part in the second debate, criticising the government on their poor approach to border policy and the pandemic. The pandemic has been part of our lives for almost a year now and there is still no effective policy about how we prevent new cases from coming in overseas. New strains and variants don’t just take direct flights from the country from which they originate, we need to be vigilant about people coming into the UK from anywhere in the world.

Tuesday 2nd February

A UQ was accepted on Tuesday morning on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol. The reality of Brexit is beginning to emerge and tensions are rising. Alistair Carmichael took part in the UQ to challenge Michael Gove on the “teething problems” which he has previously shrugged off.

Stephen Farry MP, from our NI sister party, Alliance, also participated, following the vandalism attacks on his office the night before.

Munira Wilson took part in the Statement from Matt Hancock, where the Secretary of State gave a general update on the pandemic and the vaccine rollout. Munira followed up with the Minister for Vaccines later in the week, but she spoke to Matt Hancock about the mental health impacts of the pandemic on children during Children’s Mental Health week.

The final Statement before the main business concerned the coup in Myanmar. Layla Moran spoke to the Minister for Asia.

Wednesday 3rd February

Wednesday’s UQ was on what support is being provided to university students during the pandemic. Daisy Cooper, our Education Spokesperson, spoke to this.

The main business for Wednesday required MPs to approve the rollover of numerous international sanctions following Brexit. Although this was uncontroversial and went through without objection, Layla Moran took the opportunity to speak about sanctions in a broader sense, especially given recent international events.

On Wednesday, MPs also voted on the rollover of VAT systems after Brexit. Again, this was mainly uncontroversial but there was one specific bit of legislation which Liberal Democrats voted against. The government has decided to cut the “tax-free-shopping” scheme that was in place for international customers, a hammer blow to retail. Christine Jardine, Treasury Spokesperson, led the charge for the vote and has been warning about this cut since it was first proposed.

Thursday 4th February

Thursday’s UQ was on the reports coming from Xinjang about the genocide of the Uyghur population. Alistair Carmichael spoke on this.

Wera Hobhouse attended the weekly Business Questions with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Munira attended a Statement from the Minister for Vaccine Rollout.

Thursday is usually reserved for Backbench Business, an opportunity for backbench MPs to raise issues which don’t normally see the light of day.

The first debate was on the future of the UK Space Industry. This industry has a particular need for remote locations found in places like Alistair and Jamie’s constituencies in Northern Scotland.

The second debate was on the Towns Fund, which Sarah Olney participated in.

What you may have missed

What next?

Next week, MPs will be debating the Armed Forces Bill, more amendments to the Trade Bill, and emergency legislation will be coming to the House in relation to maternity leave for the Attorney General.

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