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."
The drinks company Diageo has announced plans to cut over 100 jobs in Scotland because of concerns over Brexit, it was reported today, including 70 redundancies in Fife and 35 near Glasgow.
Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scotttish Liberal Democrats and MSP for North East Fife, commented:
"This is the cold sober reality of a hard Conservative Brexit. Diageo is a huge employer in parts of Fife and Glasgow that needs these jobs.
"The Conservatives need to explain to the workers at these plants why they soon won't be getting a wage at the end of the month.
"Liberal Democrats are giving the voters in the general election a choice to change the direction of the country. We can turn back from the economic consequences of Brexit if we choose."
Lewes has been selected by pro-European groups as one of the top 20 target seats in which voters should vote tactically to oppose a hard Brexit.
Open Britain, European Movement and Britain in Europe, which between them have 600,000 activists, havedrawn up a hitlist of 20 seats where they hope to eject pro-Brexit MPs. This includes Lewes, where Maria Caulfield supported Brexit despite the constituency voting to Remain.
Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news. As the main challengers they aim to mount a strong local campaign to oppose the Conservative government’s hard Brexit stand.
Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell commented:
“I am delighted that the country’s top pro-European groups have thrown their weight behind my campaign.
“The hard Brexit we are heading for poses a huge threat to people’s livelihoods in East Sussex, from local businesses to farmers.
“People here voted narrowly to remain, and many did not vote for the hard Brexit Theresa May has chosen. They deserve an MP who will stand up for what they believe in.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of the country. Every Liberal Democrat vote in Lewes is a challenge to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda.
“If you want Britain to remain in the EU, we are the only party offering a way to do that; through a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal with remain as an option.”
Responding to reports ministers have urged Theresa May to sideline Boris Johnson from the election campaign, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake commented:
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, has today published his annual assessment of policing in England and Wales. Police are being used as the first resort/emergency response in cases of mental ill-health because of cuts to mental health services. Commenting, Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said:
“It is an absolute travesty that we are still seeing police, rather than healthcare professionals, responding when people experience a mental health crisis. These are people suffering from an illness, they are not criminals and should never be made to feel that way. Just imagine how much additional worry and distress this causes to people when they are already in a very vulnerable position.
“As a Health Minister in the last Government, I was proud to introduce the Crisis Care Concordat which made important progress in cutting the number of people detained inappropriately in police cells because they are experiencing a mental health crisis - but unless mental health services have the resources and staff that they desperately need, I fear we will not be able to bring this damaging practice to an end.
“Of course sometimes it is inevitable that police officers will be first on the scene of a crisis, and where this happens, they must be given support to work closely with mental health services to ensure we get people the help they need, as quickly as possible.”
Leaked negotiating guidelines, set to be approved at a special summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Saturday, show that EU governments have toughened up their Brexit negotiating position.
The news comes as Theresa May and David Davis prepare to meet with Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier this evening. It has emerged that EU governments will insist that any post-Brexit relationship must fully respect EU rules after Brexit.
Brussels will also demand all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years acquire permanent residence rights. In light of the widely reported problems encountered by EU nationals legally seeking permanent residency, Brussels will demand that Home Office application procedures are streamlined.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake commented:
"The tougher position taken by the EU shows the scale of the diplomatic challenge this chaotic, hard Brexit government now faces.
“It’s shameful that our friends and allies in Europe feel they have to step in to demand our country treats EU nationals, who contribute so much to our society, with the respect they deserve.
“These draft guidelines show that, far from taking back control, Brexit will in reality mean accepting the EU’s rules without having a say over them.
“Theresa May has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the Single Market before she has even tried to negotiate.
“It is still possible for the British people to stop a Hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June, and the people must have their say over what comes next.”
The Liberal Democrats have criticised Conservative MPs who voted Remain but have now left Open Britain.
Alistair Carmichael MP, who sits on the Brexit committee, said:
“This shows that there are no sensible Conservative MPs left. They are all Brexiteers now.
“The Conservative Party has now ganged up behind a hard Brexit.
“Theresa May has chosen to leave the single market and even the small band of Conservative MPs who recognised how economically damaging this will be have caved in.
“They had a choice to put their country before their party, but they chose to put their party first.
“Open Britain is the successor to Stronger In that had the bulk of the Conservative high command behind it. It shows how far the Conservative Party has veered to the right that it is no longer supported by a single Conservative MP.
“Anyone who opposes a hard Brexit must vote Liberal Democrat to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.”
Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to news that ministers are defending in the High Court on Thursday their decision not to release a crucial clean air plan for the UK to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.
Ed Davey, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
“Ministers are having to be dragged kicking and screaming to the High Court at vast expense to the public purse so that they can keep the public in the dark about how bad air is killing people in our towns and cities.
“This is rapidly developing into a scandal as the government seeks to keep this devastating report under wraps until after the election. The government can’t use the courts to gag the truth when peoples’ heath is at stake. My message is simple: drop the court case, do the right thing, publish the report.”
Responding to Labour's plans to increase pay for NHS staff by reversing corporation tax cuts, the Liberal Democrats have identified ten examples where Labour have already pledged to spend this money elsewhere.
These include bringing back the educational maintenance allowance, paying for additional teachers, nurses and police, and funding social care.