Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has announced that the party has suspended all national campaigning until further notice. Tim was due to fly to Gibraltar today as part of the general election campaign but has cancelled the trip.
The former head of the NHS David Nicholson has today backed Liberal Democrat plans to put a penny on income tax to rescue the health and care service, in a major boost for the party.
Responding to the news UKIP are standing in just 377 seats out of 650, down from 624 in 2015, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake commented:
"UKIP are standing aside for the Conservatives because they know Theresa May has adopted their divisive agenda wholesale.
"As Nigel Farage has said, Theresa May is now using the exact words and phrases he has been using for the last 20 years.
"The scene has been set for a Conservative landslide that would be bad for people's jobs, our schools and the NHS.
"But it's not too late to ensure a strong opposition and a better future for this country.
"The Liberal Democrats are the only party can challenge Theresa May, fight to protect our schools and hospitals and stand up against a bad Brexit deal."
Liberal Democrat former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable has criticised the government after Nestlé axed 300 jobs and moved production of a chocolate bar to Poland. York and Newcastle will be particularly badly hit.
Vince Cable said:
“When I was Business Secretary companies like Nestlé exported chocolate bars. Now they are exporting jobs.
“Blame for this lies firmly with the Conservative Brexit government for threatening to yank Britain out of the single market and customs union, and I fear there will be many more such announcements.
“We believe that membership of the single market and the customs union is vital for the British economy and for the jobs of millions of British people. Leaving the world’s largest single market was not on the ballot paper in the referendum, it is a political choice made by Theresa May.
“You can’t have a hard Brexit and successful economy.”
After Theresa May’s remarks on the personal tax allowance Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Susan Kramer said:
“Again Theresa May is adopting Lib Dem policies in a desperate bid to ditch her nasty party image.
“It was the Liberal Democrats who raised the personal tax allowance. It was our number one demand in the coalition negotiations. Now, realising the threat they face from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives have stolen our policies.
“Theresa May’s dogmatic pursuit of hard Brexit is going to make everyone in the UK poorer, and it is very hard to see how she will continue to be able to take more people out of tax if we end up with £100bn Brexit black hole in the public finances. You can't have a hard Brexit and a strong economy.”
The government has agreed to drop key measures to tackle tax avoidance from the Finance Bill following a deal with the opposition.
These include tougher penalties for tax evasion, changes to prevent people avoiding inheritance tax through offshore trusts and the axing of permanent non-dom status.
Liberal Democrat MP and Public Accounts Committee member John Pugh said:
"Many voters will be shocked that measures to crack down on tax avoiders are being quietly dropped.
“It seems promises to crack down on tax avoidance after the Panama Paper leaks were nothing but hot air.
“This makes a mockery of Theresa May’s claim to be delivering for the many not the few.
"Meanwhile Labour is failing in its job to hold this government to account.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of the country and ensure Britain has a proper opposition."
Today (Thursday) in Cambridge Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has blasted Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer, and said that any EU citizen that leaves the UK “should be levelled at their door”.
“Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer will be remembered as the two people who have failed Britain in its hour of need.
“EU citizens, doctors, nurses and care workers feel that the place they moved to, the place they have made their home, has changed since Brexit. The Liberal Democrats went through the lobbies time after time to protect places like Cambridge and EU citizens and their rights. But Labour sat on their hands and shamefully abstained.
“Brexit has exposed Labour as a party that refuses to step up when they could make a difference.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of our country. On one side it’s the Tories, UKIP and Labour- skipping hand in hand towards Hard Brexit. On the other side it’s the Liberal Democrats.
“Labour have run out of ideas, run out of plans for an open and tolerant country, and that’s why they must be run out of this city. Cambridge now has the chance to stand united against hard Brexit - they must turn again to the Liberal Democrats.”
The government's failure to tackle lack of access to GPs and ambulance delays have been criticised in two scathing reports by the Public Accounts Committee today (Thursday 27 April).
The first report finds that depite the government’s target to recruit 5,000 more GPs, the overall number of GPs has reduced in the last year and problems with staff retention have continued.
Meanwhile just 58% of patient transfers were completed within 15 minutes in 2015–16, compared to 80% in 2010–11.
Liberal Democrat MP and Public Accounts Committee member John Pugh commented:
"This is a damning indictment of this government's record on the NHS, which has left patients suffering from longer waits for GP appointments and severe ambulance delays.
"Targets to recruit more GPs and ambulance staff have been woefully missed.
"Soaring numbers of people are unable to get GP appointments when they need one, heaping yet more pressure on A&Es already struggling to cope with rising demand.
"It is a catastrophic legacy that is only set to get worse as the Conservative's hard Brexit agenda blows a hole in the public finances.
"The Liberal Democrats are the only party prepared to take tough decisions to secure the future of the NHS and social care, including raising taxes to pay for the services patients deserve."
Today (Wednesday) Tim Farron will make a bold pitch to business and tell them they are ‘funding their own funeral’ if they continue to back and fund the Conservative Party. Tim is pitching the Liberal Democrats as the new party of business.
On a visit to St Albans, a Conservative held seat, Tim Farron will say:
“My message to business is this – dump the Tories. Every penny you give them will hurt you; you are funding your own funeral. The success of British business matters. Strong British businesses mean more jobs and a stronger society.
“With this disastrous hard Brexit the government is hurting businesses, both big and small, costing jobs and hitting families. All this means fewer jobs, higher prices and spiralling costs of things like fuel. This is a Brexit squeeze affecting millions of people.
“I say, clearly, to businesses, you must come and back the Liberal Democrats – this is not a moment for hiding and hoping things change. You need to desert the Tories.
“The Single Market matters – it's vital to our economy.
“This election is a chance to change Britain’s future.
“While the Tories run headlong towards a Hard Brexit and Labour cheers them on, only the Liberal Democrats are standing up for a Britain that is Open, Tolerant and United.”
Labour has failed to select a candidate in Lewes 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”, even in some of its former strongholds.
There are over 340 constituencies Labour has still not selected for in England, including Lewes in East Sussex.
In contrast the Liberal Democrats have selected 92% of their candidates in England.
Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell said:
"It seems that Labour have simply given up on places like Lewes.
"This election is now clearly a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives".
"Labour claimed to be prepared for a general election, but many of their approved candidates are simply refusing to run under Jeremy Corbyn's banner.
"And who can blame them? They see a leader who is ineffective and a party that is too divided to stand up for local people.
"Every government needs to be held to account and the Liberal Democrats are rapidly emerging as the real voice of opposition.
“If you want to ensure our country has a real opposition, the Liberal Democrats are the only choice in Lewes."