Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Have you heard any MP claim that they have read Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement?  Have a look here.  How many pages can you read before you loose the will to live. How likely do you think it is that your MP has read it?  I am not expecting you to read it but do have a little look.  This is the legal document between the Britain and Europe.   If you want to have a more digestible overview then look here.

Remember that the withdrawal agreement is just a small part of the whole process.  The big decisions have yet to be made and could take many years.

If you would like to have a peek at the political declaration for the basis of the future relationship between Britain and Europe then look here.  This is not a legal document, purley an aspiration.  It is well to remember that we would have left if we are negotiating this framework.  Therefore we will be in a much weaker position because Europe is far bigger than we are.  This declaration is is the best we can get and, if it comes to this, the deals will be far worse.  If you want to have a more digestible overview then look here.

 

Liberal Democrats’ Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Monica Harding invites you to support her campaign

Dominic Raab’s resignation as Brexit Secretary has made it clear that our local MP wants the very hardest of Brexits and is willing to push our country to a no-deal.  There is no moderation in his idea of leaving the EU.  This is at odds with the wishes of his constituency who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

As Brexit Secretary he was responsible for negotiating the deal which he now says he can’t support. Two years of negotiation and two Brexit secretaries have been unable to produce a deal which would lead us to the sunlit uplands promised by the Leave campaign.

It is clear it can’t be done.

We are left with a bad deal which the Prime Minister is trying to railroad us into accepting, because everyone knows a no deal outcome would be catastrophic.

The Prime Minister asked MPs to make a choice of her deal, no deal or no Brexit. She asked them to choose based on what their constituents want. We know what the constituents of Esher and Walton want based on their vote in the referendum. But I’m not sure our MP is listening or wants to listen. He certainly looks hell bent on his own idea of a hard Brexit.

If our MP can’t represent us then let’s fight for a people’s vote where we can express the final choice ourselves. Let’s take back control.

If you believe that your MP no longer represents you, then please join my campaign. My team are fighting hard for a people’s vote because we believe the people of Esher and Walton deserve better and for their voices to be heard.

Our country stands on the brink – the decisions taken over the next few months will determine our futures and Britain’s place in the world for decades to come. If you want your voice heard then join me. Please email me – monica_harding@hotmail.com – and we’ll work together.

Monica Harding
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
for Liberal Democrats in Esher & Walton

Email monica_harding@hotmail.com

Liberal Democrats select Monica Harding in Esher & Walton to fight the next general election

As the party prepares for a possible early general election, the local Liberal Democrats have selected Monica Harding as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Esher and Walton.

Monica is challenging the incumbent Conservative MP Dominic Raab on an anti-Brexit platform and the Conservatives’ chaotic management of and continuing underinvestment in public services.
Monica said: “60% of Elmbridge voted to stay in the EU and our MP continues to ignore us. Raab’s hard Brexit views do not represent us as a community – that’s why I’m running.”
“I will campaign for a People’s Vote to end a Brexit that serves Dominic Raab rather than his constituents’ best interests. The time for putting self-interest and party politics first needs to end. I will fight for local residents’ interests and represent the views of our community honestly.”
Monica has lived in Thames Ditton for over a decade and is married to
Jon, with four children at local schools in the borough. She is Vice Chair of Governors at a state primary school in Thames Ditton and has held positions on the boards of several charities.
“I demand better for our children – and a different kind of future than the Tories offer. I will fight school cuts, underinvestment in the NHS, the black hole in social care spending, cuts in policing and the justice service, climate change, and the continuing chaos on South Western Railway which lets down our residents on a daily basis.”

Monica has held high profile positions in the public, private and third sector in the UK and internationally. Her CV includes: Associate
Consultant at PA Consultancy, CEO of the Industry and Parliament Trust, CEO at Refugees International Japan and Director of Communications for the British Council – working in Japan, China, France and the UK.
In these roles, she has honed her skills in communications, campaigning and advocacy, strategic direction and driving organisational efficiency.
As a Liberal Democrat Monica will stand up for liberal values and progressive policies and is committed to bringing transparency and integrity to politics.

For more information, please contact:
Monica Harding, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in the Esher & Walton constituency
Email – monica_harding@hotmail.com Mobile 07799 704816

Weybridge town meetings

In my May 2018 election literature I promised to run town meetings, if elected.

My ambition is to try and establish a kind of forum where residents and businesses in Weybridge can come together on a regular basis and talk about the kind of Weybridge we want for the future.

Why did I want to do this?

I am committed to trying to enable generative and creative conversations. Conversations which bring people in at the early stages of developing anything new in the town.

All we need is YOU!

We need your ideas, your input, your voice and your help.

  • Shape what happens to the town.
  • Influence and support ideas and plans.
  • Get support from the others and the council for for your own ideas and projects.

We will talk about:

  • The spaces we use.
  • How we get about.
  • How we support people and keep them safe.
  • Our local economy and business.

And we want to know from you:

  • What do we love that we want to protect?
  • What do we need to make better?
  • What would we rather do without?
  • What can you do and what help do you need from the council?

Let’s bring the community together and create a future for Weybridge that we all want.

Trade Deals

Do you want to know what the British proposal is for handling customs after Brexit? Alright then here you go, it’s very simple really…..

If Britain imports something from outside the EU-27 and then that product is shipped into the EU-27 then the British government collects the EU tariff and pays it on to the EU once the goods have been exported onwards.

Say, for example, we import a Harley Davidson motorcycle valued at £10,000 into Britain and the EU has a 10% tariff then if that bike is then exported into an EU-27 country then we would pay the EU £1,000.

Let’s look at another example. Say we import 20 tons of beef from Argentina (at £1,000 per ton with a 10% EU tariff) and two tons are shipped into the EU-27 we would then pass on the tariff of £200 on the two tons.

See I told you it’d be easy.  Oh but wait…. what if we use ten tons of that beef as materials for making beef curry and then sell on that curry as a ready meal into the EU-27? We would have to calculate the proportion of the meal that matches the beef tariff from Argentina.

Oh and if we are importing vegetables in that meal from Asia then we’d have to look at the tariff on each ingredient and then calculate how much we owe the EU-27.

What about car parts? Say we export a car into the EU built by Nissan in Sunderland? Valued at £20,000 export price we’d have to identify the value of specific parts that came from the EU (with a tariff), identify what parts came from outside the EU (with different tariffs) and then when it’s exported into the EU deduct the tariffs on the parts from the EU and pass on the tariffs we collected on non-EU parts.

Getting more complicated now eh? Bear in mind that a car has 30,000 parts! We’d have to do this for all 4,500 plus product nomenclature (product groups) that we trade with the EU.  Bear in mind just one product group like steel plate has over 3,200 different grades of steel and you can begin to see the size of the complexity – and THIS my friends is the top suggestion that Theresa May is still trying to get all her Cabinet and party to agree on from the Body Bag Summit at Chequers, despite the fact that it’s already been ruled out by the EU as completely unrealistic and unworkable. And they’ve categorically stated that the EU will not allow a third country to collect tariffs and duty on its behalf. If there was a dispute then where would Britain as a third country go for resolution outside the EU?  The incompetence of this administration is simply astounding. It’s almost as if they don’t know what they are doing!

Chequers Accord

The Chequers Accord was dead before it was written and the cabinet should have known that after being told for two long years that it is illegal to cherry pick the four pillars/freedoms of the European Union (EU).

The very foundation of the four freedoms of the EU, freedom of movement of goods, capital, people and services are indivisible. If the EU decided that it was going to allow Britain to split these freedoms by permitting cherry picking for goods but not services then they would have to make these same allowances for fifty plus other countries too… because the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules state that you cannot provide a better deal for one nation that you do for others.

In order for the EU to accept the Chequers Accord they’d be in breach of their own international treaties. I suggest that this is a highly unlikely scenario as they’d likely have to start re-negotiating the Canada-EU deal and the Japan-EU deal amongst others.

Another key WTO rule is that if you want to trade favourably then a country must check, measure and control goods coming in and going out of the country. All members of the WTO have agreed this so that they can ensure the right tariffs and quota and quota are being applied.

However, the sovereign British parliament’s EU Withdrawal Act that recently received royal assent by Her Majesty the Queen specifically states in Section 10 that it would be illegal for a British government to do anything that creates new checks and controls on the border on the island of Ireland or damage the Good Friday Agreement. This means that if we crash out of the EU with no deal then we would be subject to the highest possible external tariff regime for every single country in the WTO.  And it would also be impossible for Britain to negotiate free trade deals to mitigate these extortionate tariffs. This would devastate British exporters. completely.

So where are we?  With six weeks of negotiations left before the conclusion of the Article 50 talks, the only proposal from the British government is to ask the EU to break its international treaties and agreements or we leave on the absolute worst possible terms for Britain. A situation you wouldn’t even consider in a nightmare. Or…. alternatively…. we could remain in the EU where we currently trade all around the world, make our own laws in Westminster while also heavily influencing the laws of the largest trade bloc on the planet, control our standards and quality, while also not bringing the country to a standstill. Did you know that between 1990 and 2016 the British economy grew by 68%? That’s faster than the G7! It’s already been damaged since the referendum to one of the worst on our continent.

It’s not too late. Stop Brexit and stop the damage – now before it’s too late.

Welcome

Featured

Membership of the Liberal Democrats locally has been growing fast with people joining from other parties and none.  Recently, our strength in the borough council has doubled – we now have 20% of the councillors and our party has moved from fourth place to second in the council.

We welcome anyone who wants a responsive and accountable local government. This can only be achieved when councillors work hand-in-hand with the people they represent. We value citizen participation. Our goal is a more open, personal and service-minded form of local government. We believe this is the key to enhancing the quality of life of all in Elmbridge.

By-Election in Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon Ward

Why was the by-election called?  Put simply it was because the incumbent, Cllr James Vickers, resigned.  Why would a councillor resign just after the local elections?  Of course, James knows but was his reason for resigning personal as the Conservatives say?  Reports say not.

First, a little background.  In the election of 2016 all the councillors were up for election at once.  This was because of boundary changes.

Oliver Chappell had the highest result so his term of office was set for four years.

 

Andrew Burley and James Vickers tied at second place.  So to determine whose office would last for three years and whose would last for two years, lots had to be drawn.

 

James Vickers expressed the wish that his term last only two years but there was a legal requirement to draw lots. James won the lot so he was due to serve for three years.  In other words until May 2019

 

It was clear that James would rather serve for a shorter term and to do so he could have resigned in May.  This would have avoided the considerable cost of the by-election around £8,000 to £10,000 for the borough and perhaps £3,000 for the candidates.

Second, the election in May resulted in gains for the Liberal Democrats, net gains for the Conservatives, losses for five of residents’ parties and a wipe out for one residents’ party.  The Conservatives totalled 24 councillors as did the Lib Dems and Residents.    Neither side had a working majority.  The Leader of the borough council, Stuart Selleck of Molesey Residents’ Party, chose to resign.

Without a working majority the new Conservative administration could not guarantee to pass their policies.  The Liberal Democrats believe that such an arrangement would have been in the interests of the people of Elmbridge.  To make the governing of the borough as smooth as possible the party leader agreed a protocol, the details of which are here  Operational Protocol 2018 19.

We, in the Liberal Democrats, expected business as usual.  We were newly in opposition.  However, it quickly became clear that internal squabbles of the Conservative party could not be contained in private.

A small point.  Usually, when the new cabinet is formed they sit in the front benches – as in the national parliament.  But when the council met for the first time some cabinet members had been bounced to the back benches by other factions in the Conservative party.

But then came the bombshell. At the beginning of every year, as each committee meets, the members elect the chair and vice-chair of that committee.  Normally the nominee of the majority party is elected unopposed.  Occasionally there is a contest between the parties for their nominees which is duly won by the majority party.  But this year, in one committee, the Conservatives proposed two councillors for chair.

When the presiding officer sought nominees, Cllr James Vickers nominated Cllr Dorothy Mitchell of Cobham.  Then Cllr James Browne of Cobham nominated Cllr Barry Cheyne of Oatlands.  The councillors from the other parties were dumbfounded. The staff found it difficult to mask their own surprise in their stringent professional presentation of independence.

Cllr Barry Cheyne won the vote and Cllr Dorothy Mitchell stormed out of the room and did not reappear for the remainder of the meeting.  Not long after this meeting James Vickers resigned.

However the Conservative try and present it in public, the Conservatives are clearly not happy bunnies.  By all accounts James Vickers resigned “on a matter of principle”.  He did not like the direction of travel of the new Conservative administration.  Not so much the policies but the general conduct of business within the Conservative Party.

Now you have a chance to make a real difference and vote for Dorothy Ford and the Liberal Democrats.

Dorothy Ford for Oxshott, Stoke d’Abernon and Cobham Fairmile

I moved from Germany to live on the edge of our precious Green Belt, at the very heart of our ward, 36 years ago.  My children enjoyed attending some of the local schools. I enjoyed sharing my love of music with Royal Kent School pupils by playing guitar and singing with them.

I taught languages at a university and at comprehensive schools before working on government policy in Whitehall, and occasionally in Brussels and Strasbourg. I now sing in choirs and study piano.  I am passionate about the enormous benefits of lifelong learning. Providing a quality education, including music and the arts, for all school pupils helps the pupils and society as a whole to blossom.

I am honoured to have recently been awarded the Ashdown Prize for my proposal to accelerate redistribution of food to the homeless and the poor.  This proposal has great potential to benefit the disadvantaged as well as the environment. I am closely wedded to both of these issues. As a teenager, on Saturdays I taught poor hungry children how to read and gave them milk.  As an adult I have helped a young mother learn to read at Oasis Childcare in Cobham, and I helped set up the Cobham Community Hub at Cobham Library. Volunteering to help others can be a friendly, rewarding experience.

It is a sheer pleasure to take daily exercise on our beautiful green fields.  I am fully committed to both safeguarding and enhancing our unique environment, and to building much-needed affordable housing on appropriate sites such as brownfield sites and town centres.  If we are to improve our environment’s footprint, our air quality should be monitored. There is just the first step forward.

I also campaign to protect all the rights of all EU residents.  Many of our local businesses, education services, care services and health services rely on EU citizens as staff, service providers and customers.

I look forward to continuing to listen to, and represent the views and values of all my fellow residents if elected a Councillor.  I offer not just a new face – but a new voice.”

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Coalition

Elmbridge Council ChamberTwo year’s ago, the newly elected leader of the Elmbridge council, Stuart Sellick invited the Liberal Democrats to join the Residents Groups to form a coalition administration.

We had had three choices: support the Conservatives or the Residents on a confidence and supply basis;  join a coalition with the Residents (there was not an offer of a coalition from the Conservatives); or, remain separate from both.

The Liberal Democrats had, in 2015, come out of a coalition nationally and had suffered for it – despite our believing that in 2010 a coalition was the best option for the country.

The residents group was and is already a coalition so our joining it meant a coalition of a coalition.  But unlike the national coalition, in Elmbridge the Liberal Democrats were the largest party in the coalition.

At that time, there was much criticism, as well as speculation, that the new coalition would be short-lived and unable to achieve any significant changes to the borough but we in the Liberal Democrat felt it was the appropriate course of action for the smooth running of the borough.

We wanted to improve the planning enforcement function, begin a serious housing programme, move the car park policy from a money-making to a service basis and put the local plan process onto a firm footing – all this was achieved whilst maintaining our council tax below general local inflation and maintaining our financial reserves.

We met all of our targets and more but there is still more to do.  This was the first Liberal Democrat coalition in the borough’s history.  On our way to running Elmbridge by ourselves – in the not too distant future – we plan to work with councillors of all parties and of none to ensure the borough is well run and that Elmbridge remains the best place to live in England.