Tim Farron: Britain deserves better than cold, selfish Theresa May

Tim Farron believes Lib Dems offer a better vision than either 'mean-spirited' Tories or 'divided' Labour

Tim Farron believes Lib Dems offer a better vision than either 'mean-spirited' Tories or 'divided' Labour

Monday, May 22, 2017

Theresa May is taking you, the British public, for granted in this election. She thinks she has this election in the bag. She has called this election for entirely cynical reasons – because she thinks that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is so weak – and she’s putting her own party’s interests ahead of the country’s. She wants a landslide and a blank cheque to do whatever she likes.

I’m having none of that. I still remember what endless years of Tory government felt like. Our NHS and schools suffered and the rich got richer while the poor got poorer. I don’t want to return to those dark days. This election is about protecting our children’s futures - and I’m prepared to fight.

The reality is, Theresa May doesn't really care if people lose their jobs, if the cost of food goes up, or if people are lying on trollies in hospital corridors. She cares whether she can win back the voters she lost to UKIP. She cares about having free reign to do whatever she likes, unchallenged. She cares about manipulating the voting system to ensure that her party has a monopoly on politics for years to come.

My vision for Britain is of a brighter future. It’s a future where we have good schools and hospitals so that our children have a fair chance in life. It’s a future where our elderly are treated with dignity, where we have a clean environment and an innovative economy.

I want to protect the Britain we all know and love. The Britain where people are decent to each other, where they respect difference of opinion, they listen to each other and genuinely care.

Regardless of how you voted last year in the referendum, you can agree with me that Britain deserves better than May’s cold, mean-spirited vision that puts her own interests ahead of ordinary people’s lives.

Change Britain’s Future

That’s why we will give you the chance to change Britain’s future and protect our public services from heartless Tory cuts.

Only this year, more than 20 hospitals became so overcrowded they had to declare a ‘black alert’.  Life-saving operations to treat cancer patients were cancelled. That’s not the kind of service I want for my family or our country.

I’m looking taxpayers straight in the eye and saying honestly that a targeted tax rise is now necessary – a penny in the pound on each rate of income tax, so the wealthiest pay most.  This will generate an extra £6 billion a year for health and social care.

And just as we want to see people retire and live the end of their lives with dignity, we want to give every child in the country the best possible start in life.  That’s why we’ll reverse the Conservatives’ cuts to education, and make sure schools funding rises each year to match inflation. 

We’ll also triple the “early years pupil premium”, so an additional £1000 a year follows the most disadvantaged children at the start of their education, helping to close the attainment gap between them and their peers from better-off families.

Your future, your choice

We also demand that you get your say over your future. The sort of Brexit deal we get is still up for grabs and will have huge consequences - it should be the British people, not politicians, who get the final say.  If you don’t like the Brexit deal, you should be able to reject it and choose to stay in Europe instead. If you’re happy with it and want to vote for it, that’s fine too.

It’s a bit like moving house. Last year, the British people decided to move house, after politicians made all sorts of promises about how great the new house will be. But, a year on we, still don’t know what that new house will look like. It’s only right that, when we do finally get to see the new house, the British people get to decide if we still want to move in.

There are many different ways to do Brexit, and some will have a more devastating impact on British jobs and prices than others. The Liberal Democrats want Britain to stay in the single market and customs union to protect jobs and businesses.

May’s hard and divisive Brexit will do the opposite. The extreme form of Brexit she is seeking will make our country poorer, placing even more pressure on our NHS and education as our economy shrinks. 

So what can we do now to nurture a better, brighter future? I am determined there must be a strong opposition holding the Government to account, to avoid a bad Brexit deal and to protect our public services.

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to do that job.  Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is weak and divided and has lost all credibility. They fell at the first hurdle on Brexit, trooping through the lobbies after the Tories and giving them a blank cheque for a hard and divisive Brexit. In this, the biggest fight of a generation, the Labour Party is missing in action.

That’s why I’m asking you to vote Liberal Democrat on June 8.  Theresa May wants people to believe that an increased Commons majority at this election will enable her to wag her finger at our European partners and get what she wants. In fact, the opposite is true.

The Prime Minister has already made a political choice to junk Britain’s membership of the single market, before she even enters the negotiating room.  This is a betrayal not only of those who voted Remain, but of very many Leave voters too.  Members of my family, and many old friends, voted Leave.  But they didn’t vote to get poorer. 

At this election, every Liberal Democrat vote is a vote to safeguard jobs, and put more money into the NHS and education.  Every Liberal Democrat vote is a vote for your say over your future, and the final say on the Brexit deal.  And every Liberal Democrat vote will help elect a party not obsessed with itself and its own internal politics, but determined instead to charter a better, brighter future for our country.