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.
Independent organisation Eunity Lewes hosted a panel last night with politicians from all colours discussing Brexit- What Next?
The group were set up following the EU Referendum in June 2016 to look at the future and opportunities Brexit presents, and to make sure many of the controversial details did not go undiscussed.
The Spring Budget announced by the Conservative Government today included a £1,000 discount for public houses who are facing rapid rates increases. However, with some pubs in Lewes forcasted with a 200% rates rise (in excess of £40,000) this discount may not save our community pubs.
Lewes is renowned for it's small businesses and with thirteen pubs and a lively community based night life in the town, the pubs are well regarded as hubs in our community.
Kelly-Marie Blundell and Lewes Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s failure
to provide enough extra cash for the NHS in today’s budget, warning that local services
will struggle to cope with growing demand.
Cllr Sarah Osborne, Leader of the Lib Dem group at Lewes District Council has secured money at a recent meeting of Lewes District Council to fund a feasibility study into providing low cost affordable homes for local people on ‘easy access’ sites in the District. With modern materials and building techniques it is possible to ‘crane in’ self-contained modular homes that can be constructed in a very short timescale. These can be used for those in urgent need until more permanent solutions can be found. The study would look at where it would be feasible and uncontroversial to site these self-contained modular homes, that later can be removed or relocated once their use of the site has ended.
Cllr Sarah Osborne (who is also prospective County Council Candidate for Ouse Valley West) said: “There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a housing crisis, with more and more homeless families. At present we have to house them in bed and breakfasts outside the district, far from their place of work, schools, friends and family. So we need to be more imaginative and plan for other ways to provide both temporary and permanent accommodation. It is possible to provide quality homes at low cost. I hope that now that I have been promised the funds the administration gets on with the feasibility study so that we can house people decently close to where they need to be.”