LONDON, United Kingdom – Britain’s Liberal Democrats launched their election manifesto on Wednesday, November 20, pledging to scrap Brexit and spend a so-called £50 billion “Remain bonus” on public services and narrowing inequality.
The pro-European party, which has vowed to halt Britain’s departure from the EU if it wins a majority, also outlined policies to tackle climate change, expand free childcare, and recruit more teachers.
Meanwhile, it reiterated an eye-catching pledge from the last election to legalize cannabis and create a “regulated market,” promising to stop jailing people for the possession of drugs for personal use.
“The first step of our plan for a brighter future is simple: stop Brexit and use the Remain Bonus to invest in public services,” the Lib Dems said in a 100-page manifesto.
“By keeping the UK in the EU, we can get on with tackling the real issues facing our country, using the… £50 billion to invest in public services and tackle inequality.”
Independent analysts call the £50 billion ($65 billion, 58 billion euro) figure “a fair assessment of the best available forecasts” that compare economic growth if in or outside the EU.
But they also warn it contains “a high degree of uncertainty.”
“We shouldn’t treat £50 billion as definitive,” fact-checking charity Full Fact has said.
The December 12 general election comes with Britain increasingly divided over how to, or even if it should, implement the result of a 2016 referendum when voters chose to pull Britain out of the European Union.
The Lib Dems, led by Jo Swinson, are hoping to capitalize on trenchant opposition to Brexit to catapult itself from perennial smaller party into a serious contender for government.
It claims to be the only political party committed to stopping Brexit.
The ruling Conservatives are vowing to deliver Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s EU divorce deal, while Labour is offering another referendum but refusing to say which side it would support.
But the Lib Dems, currently polling in the mid-teens, face an almost impossible challenge of beating the two main parties and taking power.
Pollsters and political analysts say they could expect to become kingmakers at best in a hung parliament.
However the party’s manifesto appears aimed at drawing europhile voters from both the Conservatives and Labour.
Other proposals include generating 80 percent of Britain’s electricity through renewables by 2030, providing free childcare from the age of nine months, and recruiting 20,000 more teachers.
“Our country deserves better than what is on offer from the two tired old parties,” Swinson said in manifesto.
“There are no limits to my ambition for our party as we take our positive vision for a brighter future to the country.”
On drug laws, the party promised to take a “different approach”.
A regulated cannabis market would “break the grip of the criminal gangs”, with the drug sold through licensed outlets to adults and limits on potency levels.
The plan would adopt “a robust approach to licensing” drawn on the experience of the United States and Canada implementing similar approaches. – Rappler.com