Message from Irina von Wiese, chair, LIBG

22 Dec 2021
Irian von Wiese

It is a great honour to be elected chair of the Liberal International British Group. Stepping into Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett's shoes is not easy, and I owe him a huge 'thank you' for all his work as LIBG chair since July 2018.

So much has happened since, and Adrian steered this group through a perfect storm: Brexit, Covid, populist forces fed by increasingly sophisticated disinformation, and a dismal government descending into chaos and corruption.

LIBG is affiliated to Liberal International - the global federation of liberal parties.

Its aims are to keep liberal values - human rights, social justice, democracy and rule of law - alive in the face of adversity.

Working with like-minded parties across the globe, we want to keep Britain's pro-European, internationalist voice audible loud and clear across the globe. I am convinced that Britain still is the open, tolerant and welcoming society I encountered when I arrived in this country in 1996, and I will always fight to keep it that way.

My grandmother and father fled political persecution in Russia and Germany. As a lawyer and volunteer, I have sought to help refugees and migrants in the UK.

In 2019 I was incredibly honoured to be elected to the European Parliament and serve as vice-chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee.

Post-Brexit, I continue to work on human rights issues advising businesses on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Modern slavery and forced labour, inhumane working conditions and child labour still lurk in forgotten corners of our cities and at the bottom of many company supply chains. Only in cooperation with our sister parties around the world can we tackle these problems.

I was also privileged to serve on the board of the European Endowment for Democracy, an EU organisation promoting liberal democracy in the 'eastern neighbourhood', North Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Civil society engagement plays a huge role in this endeavour, and LIBG supports sister parties who channel these efforts.

Finally, it is vital that we keep defending diversity, inclusion and intersectionality in Europe and beyond. Adrian's achievements in this respect, notably in support of LGBT+ communities in Poland and Hungary, but also in bringing together people from different backgrounds here in the UK, need no further explanation. Sadly, the situation in many countries makes this work more urgent than ever, and LIBG will continue to raise awareness and tackle these issues.

You can follow our work via this website, but also on social media @LibIntBg where we will be tweeting regularly on international issues, events, and meetings of informative discussion and debate.