Liberal Democrats vow to reenter EU’s single market in manifesto with goal of ‘rescuing the NHS’

Liberal Democrats Pledge to Rejoin Single Market in Manifesto

The Liberal Democrats have announced their intention to bring the UK back into the European Union’s single market in their manifesto. While the party has focused on policies surrounding health and social care in their election campaign, their 114-page document also includes a commitment to “place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the single market.”

The party’s leader, Sir Ed Davey, unveiled the manifesto at the latest General Election event, where he also presented plans to “save the NHS.” The Lib Dems have previously made headlines with their “stop Brexit” policy in 2019, but this year’s manifesto takes a more subdued approach to rejoining the EU. However, Sir Ed emphasized the party’s pro-European stance, stating that they are “the most pro-European party in British politics” and that they are proud of it.

When asked about their long-term ambition to rejoin the EU, Sir Ed acknowledged that it would take time due to the damage caused by the Conservatives. He added that while the party believes in the need to be back in the heart of Europe, they are not going to pretend that it will be an easy task.

Aside from their stance on Europe, the Lib Dems have also put forward a £9 billion plan to fix the health and social care system. This includes measures such as recruiting 8,000 more GPs, guaranteeing a GP appointment within seven days, and improving cancer survival rates. Sir Ed described the manifesto as “a plan to save the NHS.”

To fund their proposals, the party plans to raise approximately £5 billion by reforming capital gains tax (CGT), which is currently lower than the income tax rate. They also intend to reverse a tax cut given to big banks, which is expected to generate around £4 billion.

Under Sir Ed’s leadership, the Lib Dems have made carers a central part of their campaign, with the manifesto featuring a dedicated chapter on care. The party’s pledges include free personal care for the elderly and disabled, as well as a higher salary for care workers.

The manifesto, titled For A Fair Deal, also promises no increases in income tax, VAT, or national insurance. Other pledges in the manifesto include tackling the sewage crisis, banning bonuses for water company CEOs, and implementing environmental experts on company boards.

The party also plans to scrap the First Past The Post voting system and replace it with proportional representation. They aim to provide free school meals for 900,000 more children living in poverty and extend it to all primary school children when the public finances allow.

The manifesto has been fully costed, with the proposed tax rises amounting to £26.7 billion in 2028-29. In addition to taxes on banks and CGT reforms, the party plans to increase levies on tech firms and oil and gas giants, introduce a “super tax” on private jet travel, remove VAT exemptions for private, first-class, and business-class flights, and implement a tax on share buybacks.

However, there are concerns that targeting big companies may not generate as much money as expected, as firms could change their financing strategies to avoid some charges. The Nuffield Trust, an independent health organization, also believes that the proposed funding for adult social care falls short.

The Lib Dems are hoping to gain votes from traditional Conservative supporters in the “Blue Wall,” with polls projecting a potential quadrupling of their current number of seats. Sir Ed urged voters to “take a chance on us,” stating that the more Lib Dem MPs are elected, the more they can bring about real change.

Following the launch of the manifesto, Sir Ed took a ride on a giant teacup at Thorpe Park, stating that he wanted to show a different side to politicians. In response, Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden warned that a vote for the Liberal Democrats would put Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in Downing Street.

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