The Lewes Liberal Democrats have written to Maria Caulfield MP urging her to reject Theresa May's hard Brexit manifesto and instead pledge to protect the local economy by keeping Britain in the single market.
Theresa May is expected to include her Brexit negotiating priorities in the Conservative snap election manifesto in an attempt to lock all Conservative candidates into supporting a hard Brexit. These are set to include a pledge to withdraw from the single market, end the free movement of people in the EU and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell has written to Maria Caulfield MP stating they should stand by their principles and sign up to an alternative pro-European platform, including fighting to keep Britain in the single market and defend the right to remain for the 2,536 European citizens living in Lewes.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for (AREA) commented:
"If Lewes signs up to a Hard Brexit manifesto, it would go against everything she says they believe in OR people in this area believe in.
"It would show our local MP is not willing to stand up for our local economy or the many European citizens living here.
"This election is a chance for voters in Lewes to change the direction of our country.
"People here deserve an MP who will stand up for what they believe in, including fighting to prevent a disastrous hard Brexit and keep Britain in the single market.
"Maria Caulfield must make clear where he/she stands on what is the biggest issue of the day.
"The Liberal Democrats are united in saying we will stand up for Britain's place in Europe and to keep our country open, tolerant and united."
Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's comments on class sizes today, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary John Pugh said:
“Jeremy Corbyn is happy to talk the talk, but only the Liberal Democrats have a clear commitment to invest more in our schools and reverse the Tories' devastating cuts.
"We’re clear that money for new schools should be targeted where extra places are needed most - rather than wasting billions on free schools in areas where they’re not needed as this Government is doing.
“The Conservative's disastrous record on education has done untold harm to our schools, teachers and young people across the country - enough is enough.
"The only way to prevent a Conservative majority, to stop more cuts to school budgets and to put an end to divisive plans like reintroducing grammar schools, is to vote Liberal Democrat on 8th June.”
Responding to a report by the Education Committee calling on the the Government to provide guarantees to university staff from the EU, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary John Pugh said:
Responding to Tony Blair's remarks that voters should consider backing candidates who do not support a 'Brexit at any cost', a Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:
“Tony Blair’s intervention today shows something: this election is your chance to change Britain’s future. If you want to avoid a hard Brexit you need to support the Liberal Democrats. The Tories have chosen a divisive hard Brexit. Labour have gone along with it. Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting it.”
The Liberal Democrats have ruled out doing any coalition deals with Theresa May's Conservatives or Jeremy Corbyn's Labour after the election.
Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:
"We will not join a coalition with Theresa May's Conservatives or Jeremy Corbyn's Labour. We don't rule out future coalitions - we believe in plural politics - but we won't enter one with either May or Corbyn.
"Under no conditions can we sign up to Theresa May's Hard Brexit agenda.
"We will work with pro-European MPs in any party to stand up to the Conservatives over Hard Brexit, but Corbyn is not that. Corbyn is pro-Brexit, wants to pull us out of the single market and marched his MPs and peers through the lobbies to vote for article 50 without any concessions.
"Every Liberal Democrat vote and every Liberal Democrat MP elected is a challenge to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda.
"This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to stop a Hard Brexit, if you want to keep us in the single market, if you want a real opposition, this is your chance."
Labour has hardly managed to select a single candidate in the SE with the general election just weeks away. The news has been revealed by the Liberal Democrats who say that it shows Labour has “given up” in the SE.
The news comes from Labour’s own website seeking approved candidates to apply. In contrast the Liberal Democrats have selected 92% of their candidates in England.
Liberal Democrat chief whip, Tom Brake MP, said:
"This says to me that Labour have simply given up on the South East. They claimed to be prepared for a general election but this shows that huge numbers of Labour approved candidates are simply refusing to run under Jeremy Corbyn's banner.
"And who can blame them? They see a leader who is extreme and unelectable so they know they would be on a hiding to nothing.
"Every government needs a strong opposition and the Liberal Democrats are rapidly emerging as the real opposition to Theresa May's Conservatives.
“In the South East it is always a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. If you want to put a break on Theresa May, the Liberal Democrats are the only choice.
“In recently held seats such as Eastbourne and Lewes and other strong Liberal Democrat areas such as Guildford, Maidstone, Canterbury and many more this Labour disarray gives a revitalised Liberal Democrats a real chance.”
One in five small firms in the UK employ workers from the EU and 59% of these are worried about accessing people with the skills they need post-Brexit, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses.
13% of small businesses with employees from the EU would consider moving their business abroad if there were additional barriers to recruiting EU workers.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer said:
"This report shows small firms are set to bear the brunt of Theresa May's divisive hard Brexit.
"The reckless decision to leave the single market and not to guarantee the rights of EU workers has plunged small businesses into uncertainty, with many now even considering moving abroad.
"Meanwhile skilled EU workers who contribute to our economy, pay their taxes and help fund our public services are being made to feel unwelcome.
"The Conservatives have lost any right to call themselves the party of business.
"This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and protect the economy from a disastrous hard Brexit."
The Government proposals to reintroduce Grammar schools promote divisive education which only benefits the few, say Lib Dems in East Sussex.
Local Liberal Democrats are calling for the reversal of Conservative budget cuts to our schools and social care services.
New figures show schools across East Sussex could lose over £17 million due to government changes - headteachers and parents are writing in protest.
Lib Dem Parliamentary Campaigner Kelly-Marie Blundell said: “Unless the Conservative Government’s changes are stopped it means deep funding cuts to our much needed local schools.”
Lib Dem County Candidate Sarah Osborne commented: “Our children’s future should not be risked – we need to fund our schools properly”.
Carolyn Lambert, Lib Dem candidate for Seaford South, has also pledged to help elderly and vulnerable people by reversing damaging care cuts and put millions back into East Sussex social care services.
Darren Grover, Lib Dem Candidate for Bishopstone and Newhaven, added: “The Conservatives have failed to properly address our social care funding crisis".
Lewes Bridge and Ringmer candidate Philip Daniel said: “Lib Dems want to reform the funding of our health and care system so people can get the support they need.”
This partial U-turn by the government over social care funding shows a belated recognition of how wrong the Government were not giving these extra funds last month, as part of the local government finance settlement. East Sussex County Council would have had an earlier opportunity to properly plan how it would use these funds to the best effect.
We must remember that the extra money is spread over three years, and will not come along in one tranche. There will still be a funding gap. Until we know how the extra funds will be used by East Sussex County Council we will not be sure that the problem will be properly addressed even in the short term. We also do not know what strings will be attached to the use of the monies. Until we know these things we will not know how far these funds will go towards addressing the crisis in Adult Social Care.