Remain campaigners greet Lib Dems arriving at party conference
Boris Jonson is accused of acting like a ‘climate change denier’ as Lib Dem MP compares him to Donald Trump in a scathing speech at party’s first conference with new leader Jo Swinson at the helm
- Jo Swinson and other MPs have arrived at the Bournemouth International Centre
- Lib Dems set to discuss ways to scrap Brexit while avoiding second referendum
- Ms Swinson has definitively ruled out a coalition with Labour and Convervatives
Boris Johnson has been accused of acting like a ‘climate change denier’ in a scathing speech by Liberal Democrats environment spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse.
The Bath MP said the Prime Minister was using language on climate change that was akin to controversial US President Donald Trump.
In the first speech from one of leader Jo Swinson’s top team at the party conference in Bournemouth, she said: ‘Now, like Trump, Johnson is talking about “extreme weather conditions” – he is moving away from the acceptance of climate change.
Boris Johnson has been accused of acting like a ‘climate change denier’ in a scathing speech by Liberal Democrats environment spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse (pictured)
‘They (the Government) are even talk about reducing fuel duty. These are the words and actions of climate change deniers.’
As mayor of London, Mr Johnson shrank the congestion zone but rolled-out a city-wide bike hire scheme and vowed to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers’ rather than see a third runway built at Heathrow Airport.
Ms Hobhouse said ‘populist’ leaders across the globe were using the impact of climate change to their own advantage.
‘Whether it is Trump, or Bolsonaro, Putin, or any other dictator across the world, they all actively encourage activities that create environmental chaos, division, social instability and economic disruption. Because these are the conditions in which they thrive,’ she told party members at the Bournemouth International Centre.
A group of 17 party members arrived in Bournemouth led by Jo Swinson (centre) – the party’s first ever female leader
She tore into the Conservative administration’s record on reducing the UK’s carbon footprint, and said ministers had ‘destroyed’ the record left by the Lib Dems when they were in coalition between 2010 and 2015.
‘What have the Tories done about the climate emergency in the last four years? Apart from Theresa May’s legacy bill of committing the UK to net-zero by 2050, the Tories have destroyed almost every bit of progress we made during the coalition years,’ she said.
In the first speech from one of leader Jo Swinson’s top team at the party conference in Bournemouth, she said: ‘Now, like Trump, Johnson is talking about “extreme weather conditions” – he is moving away from the acceptance of climate change’
She singled out for criticism the decision to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change and blasted the Government’s policy of pursuing fracking – which has resulted in drilling that has caused earth tremors in Lancashire in recent weeks – as ‘madness’.
The party’s climate change spokeswoman told supporters that the Lib Dems could support future airport expansion – but only if an alternative to jet fuel was found.
‘In aviation, we urgently need to find an alternative to jet fuel. This development could take 15 years. Until then, Liberal Democrats will not support any airport expansion across the UK,’ said Ms Hobhouse.
‘For the Green Party, aviation is the problem, for the Lib Dems, jet fuel is the problem.’
The conference is due to debate the party’s climate change policy, which includes setting up a citizens assembly to decide on how best to tackle the threat of changing weather and rising sea levels, on Monday.
If approved, the idea for citizens assemblies would form part of the Lib Dem manifesto at the next election.
The party will be discussing ways to scrap Brexit while avoiding a second referendum
The party will also be discussing ways to scrap Brexit while avoiding a second referendum.
Ms Swinson says holding the 2016 referendum got the UK into a ‘mess’ and will push to revoke Article 50.
The East Dunbartonshire MP wants to sign her colleagues up to the policy – a move that would cancel the divorce from Brussels without the need for a second referendum.
Revoking Article 50 – effectively undoing the mechanism under the EU’s Lisbon Treaty that was triggered to start Britain’s withdrawal – would be written into the next Lib Dem election manifesto if members at the conference back the move.
Ms Swinson says holding the 2016 referendum got the UK into a ‘mess’ and will push to revoke Article 50. Pictured is Ms Swinson receiving a manicure after arriving in Bournemouth
Until the conference the party have been in favour of a second referendum but have now changed tack and insist that revoking Article 50 is the only satisfactory way out.
Deputy leader Ed Davey has been campaigning for a second referendum but admitted that it doesn’t look likely it will happen.
Ms Swinson has insisted that if her party were to come into power they would immediately scrap Brexit.
With a general election expected soon, Ms Swinson has also definitively ruled out any coalition with Conservatives or Labour.
The party will also be demanding £5billion per year for the benefits system, reforms on gender equality and help for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives
The party’s numbers dwindled after their five-year coalition with the Conservatives and ended up with just eight MPs.
But a recent boost due to defections from both Labour and the Conservatives over the summer has bumped their numbers to 17.
The party will also be demanding £5billion per year for the benefits system, reforms on gender equality and help for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives.
Ms Swinson is expected to take questions from delegates tomorrow, after a speech from her predecessor Vince Cable.
Her main speech will be held on the last day of the conference, Tuesday, and will follow a tribute to the party’s formed leader who died in December – Paddy Ashdown.
Chuka Umunna, who joined the Lib Dems under Sir Vince’s leadership, will address party members on Monday in his role as Treasury and business spokesman.
Environment and climate change spokeswoman Vera Hobhouse MP will give her speech on Saturday morning before Baroness Brinton, the party president, closes proceedings in the afternoon.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks to weather the storm following the ruling from Scottish judges this week that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Lib Dems are looking to capitalise and mobilise supporters in Dorset in preparation for a snap election.
Deputy leader Ed Davey has been campaigning for a second referendum but admitted that it doesn’t look likely it will happen
Parliament has so far denied Mr Johnson’s request for an autumn trip to the polls as opposition parties look to see the Benn Bill – legislation that demands the PM extend the Brexit deadline until January 2020 rather than take Britain out of the European Union without a deal – enshrined in law.
But with Royal Assent for the Bill now achieved and no majority in the House of Commons for the PM, both the Conservative Party and its rivals are gearing up for another Brexit-themed election.
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