Cllr Lisa Smart appointed Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson for the North West

The Liberal Democrats have announced their team of regional spokespeople for Brexit – and Stockport Councillor Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Hazel Grove, has been appointed as the spokesperson for the North West.


She will be tasked with fighting to reduce the damage of Brexit for people across the North West following Theresa May’s announcement yesterday that she intends to take Britain out of the Single Market and impose a Hard Brexit.

350,000 jobs in the North West, or around one in ten, are linked to trade with the Single Market. The North West exported £13.5 billion worth of goods to the Single Market in 2014, which was 52% of total goods exports for the region.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said:

“Brexit is going to be a major upheaval for people up and down the country. It is easily the biggest political decision in modern history and the repercussions of the decisions made in the next few years will be felt for a generation.

“The pound has already fallen in value, jobs are at risk of migrating overseas, and we must have no doubt that the years ahead will be tough for the North West.

“Lisa Smart is going to do an excellent job of holding the government to account as the Conservative’s drag us out of Europe and the Single Market. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a fair deal for the people of the North West.”

Lisa Smart said:

“Theresa May’s decision to take us out of the Single Market will have a devastating effect on the economy of the North West and I will fight tooth and nail for local people to ensure that jobs and prosperity are protected.”

Local Euro-MP nominated for environment award

Tameside’s Lib Dem MEP has been shortlisted to win a prestigious award for his services to the environment. Chris Davies has been nominated to become a Parliamentarian of the Year for his work in promoting reform of Europe’s common fisheries policy.

All 766 MEPs will now vote to select the winners in each category who will be presented by The Parliament magazine with their awards at a ceremony in Brussels next month.

Chris has led the 85 strong European Liberal Democrat group on the EU Parliament Environment committee since he was elected in 1999. He has been described by WWF, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, as one of the ‘most influential’ MEPs for building coalitions in support of measures to protect the environment.

The MEP formed a cross-party campaign group, ‘Fish for the Future’, which helped to secure the votes of 502 MEPs in favour of ambitious reform.

The new fisheries policy is already being credited with helping to rebuild Europe’s depleted fish stocks. A ban on the discard of fish will be phased in from next year.

Davies said, “Reforming the CFP was a team achievement and I am hugely pleased to have played a part in bringing it about.

“Overfishing and bad practices have cut fish stocks and cost jobs, but we now have fishermen and scientists working together to bring about improvement. The future for fish and our fishermen is looking bright.”

“I was elected as an MEP to work with our European partners to find shared solutions to the problems we face in common. Our new approach to fishing policy shows how successful that can sometimes be.”

Davies’s rivals for the award on the shortlist are French centre right MEP Maurice Ponga and German Green Reinhard Butikofer.

Euro-MP wins another fish fight

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Our local Euro-MP Chris Davies won support from MEPs for beleaguered fish stocks in a marathon voting session today in Strasbourg.  MEPs from France and Spain attempted to put aside large amounts of taxpayer money for fleet renewal – effectively giving fishermen cash for better boats that could catch more fish.

Chris, who founded the cross party Fish for the Future group of MEPs, led the fight to prevent more subsidy cash being wasted on measures that would encourage overfishing and the further decline of fish stocks.

The European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will provide €6 billion towards the fishing industry between 2014 and 2020.  MEPs approved payment of subsidies to help fishermen adjust to change but not to catch more fish.

Chris welcomed the decision as proof that the EU was serious about improving its fisheries policy, saying “We still have too many boats chasing too few fish, so to use public money to pay for building new boats would only make the problem worse. Grants of this kind were scrapped a decade ago, when 90% of the money was going to France, Spain and Portugal.  To have reinstated them would have been a massive step backwards.”

“Fishermen only have a future if we can help fish stocks to recover.  That is why Lib Dem MEPs supported investment based on sound science rather than subsidies for the few.”

The Parliament supported the use of funds to help fishermen buy more selective gear, to improve port facilities, and to obtain more scientific data about the state of fish stocks.

Have ferret, will travel

Ferrets, dogs and cats are set today (Thursday) to gain greater opportunities to travel across EU borders.

MEPs are expected to give their support to changes in the law providing for the movement of non-commercial pet animals.  The new arrangements are built on the success of ‘pets passports’ legislation approved a decade ago. They simplify procedures and allow more animals to be moved to take part in
competitions and sporting events.

Pet animals can accompany their owners if they carry a microchip ‘passport’
that proves they have been vaccinated against rabies.

Human cases of rabies average only one per year in the EU.

Tameside MEP and cat owner Chris Davies, speaking in the Parliament today
hailed the measure as an example of an EU law that made life better for
people – and their pets.

He said:  “Ferrets, cats and dogs can now travel across Europe for holidays, competitions or sexual liaisons.

“The misery of quarantine restrictions for both pets and their owners has come to an end, and cases of rabies have been held in check.

“Lib Dems in the EU are trying to make a fairer society for all – including lovelorn ferrets and their long suffering owners.

“I’m sure that pet dogs will be excited and pet cats will be indifferent to the legislation but on a serious point this is the EU creating opportunities and adding value to the experience of people and their pets in a way that no single country could do alone.”

Potential bee killer banned by EU

A chemical implicated in the recent rapid decline of bee numbers has been banned by the EU despite the objections of the UK government.

Local Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies has been campaigning for neonicotinoids to be banned since evidence first started being reported that the controversial pesticide could be causing bee colonies to die.

15 EU governments today voted in favour of a ban – not enough to impose one but enough to throw the decision to the EU Commission which is likely to announce a two year ban while more research is carried out.

The UK government voted against – and Davies slammed Ministers for bowing to pressure from big business.

Chris said, “There is enough evidence that neonicotinoids could be causing the catastrophic decline in bee numbers to warrant at least a temporary suspension in their use.

“Bees and other wild pollinators are worth over £100 million per year to the UK agricultural sector and we can’t keep taking risks with crop production like this.”

40th anniversary of Britain joining the EU

The United Kingdom has today been a member of the European Union for 40 years.

Tameside Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies says that EU membership has helped to maintain British influence in a fast-changing world.

“We applied to join late because politicians realised that Britain was being left behind and losing influence.  The EU remains for now the largest trading bloc in the world and I believe the UK has contributed a great deal to make it more prosperous.”

Chris says that membership of the European Union has boosted British trade and helped create more jobs than ever before.  He points to its achievements in promoting peace, democracy and human rights.

“Twenty-five years ago some of our closest partners were still communist dictatorships within the Soviet Union.  We were fearful of the future and spending a fortune on defending ourselves from a real threat of attack.  The contrast with today could hardly be greater.”

The MEP claimed that few people can name more than one or two EU rules that they would like to have repealed.  Rules and regulations have improved our environment and made life better and safer for the majority.

He said: “There are many things I want to change, but that’s true of rules made in London as well as those from Brussels.

“I want the EU to be a stronger force for good on the world stage.  The challenge for the future is to maintain our influence in a world with power moving towards China and many other fast-developing countries.”

Fish set to have a Merrier Christmas

Radical reforms to Europe’s common fisheries policy won strong support from MEPs today.

MEPs gave stronger than expected support to radical reforms to EU fishing policy today, voting to end the discard of perfectly edible fish and take steps to rebuild depleted fish stocks.

In a series of votes on 2500 amendments MEPs followed the lead of Tameside MEP Chris Davies, founder of the cross party ‘Fish for the Future’ group of Euro-MPs in 2010.

Davies has been campaigning for reform of the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) since being re-elected in 2009 and today’s votes marked a significant milestone in ending the practice of discarding fish, dead, into the sea just because they are over quota.

Chris said, “We have been throwing perfectly edible fish overboard while fish stocks have dropped and dropped over the last few decades.

“Meanwhile Fisheries Ministers from across the EU have met every December, listened to scientific advice, and then ignored it by setting fishing quotas far too high for fish to survive.

“With this reform in place we should finally see the number and size of fish start to recover above minimum levels and back to a level where the fishing industry is viable again.”

MEPs were voting during a once in a decade chance to change the law underpinning fishing policy across the 27 state EU.

The legislation will now need to be ratified by the entire European Parliament, prior to detailed negotiations between MEPs and Fisheries Ministers from the 27 EU countries.

EU boost for Tameside businesses

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

British inventors are set to benefit from the successful outcome of a 40 year EU battle on patent laws.

Businesses applying for patents currently need to have their application translated into 23 different languages to protect their rights in 25 EU countries.

But Euro-MPs this week gave their backing to a new patent law that will allow inventors to apply in just one language and get protection across the EU. The new unitary patents will be processed in English, French or German but can be submitted in any of the 23 official EU languages.

The new law will reduce the costs of an EU wide patent by 80% with costs of translation no longer being met by the inventors. Costs will fall to _2380 during a short transition period and then _680 after that.

Patent costs in the USA and Japan are significantly lower than in the EU making manufacturing in those countries more competitive.

Chris Davies, Lib Dem Euro-MP for Tameside said, “This is exactly what the EU should be doing, making it easier and cheaper for businesses across Europe to develop new products and promote innovation.

“Manufacturing industry in the North needs to be on a level playing field with international competitors.

“If we are going to grow our way out of the current financial difficulties we need to make things and export them and this will help.”

Davies criticised UKIP MEPs who voted against the new patent law. “UKIP has shown again that its obsessive hatred of the idea of European cooperation puts jobs at risk. Its MEPs let down small and medium sized businesses and our great Universities by voting against this measure.

“Money that is currently being wasted on translating patents can now be used for more research and most importantly to create jobs. A widget made in Tameside today can be sold in Bulgaria tomorrow without the fear it will be copied.”