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  1. ITV Report

Liberal Democrats unveil election manifesto bankrolled by £50 billion 'Remain bonus'

Jo Swinson visits a school in Cambridgeshire ahead of the manifesto launch. Credit: PA

A £50 billion Remain "bonus" will bankroll Liberal Democrat spending plans should they get into power.

Ahead of officially unveiling the party's general election manifesto, leader Jo Swinson said the key plank of their programme was stopping Brexit in its tracks.

By doing so, billions would be made available to fund a series of manifesto commitments, including:

  • Tackling the climate emergency by generating 80% of UK electricity from renewables by 2030
  • Building a fairer economy, transforming opportunities by providing free childcare from nine months and giving every adult £10,000 to spend on skills & training throughout their lives
  • Giving every child the best start in life by recruiting 20,000 more teachers as part of an extra £10 billion a year for schools
  • Transforming mental health services by treating mental health with the same urgency as physical health
  • Adopting a public health approach to serious violence with investment in community policing and youth services
  • Fixing the broken immigration system by scrapping the Conservatives' hostile environment, ending indefinite detention and taking powers away from the Home Office

Leader Jo Swinson, said: “This manifesto is a bold plan to build a brighter future for our country, and that starts with stopping Brexit.

“Labour and the Conservatives can’t offer the country a brighter future because they both want Brexit.

"We know that will be bad for our economy, bad for our NHS and bad for our environment.

“Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and invest in our mental health services, give free childcare to working parents, put 20,000 more teachers into classrooms and take ambitious action to tackle the climate emergency.

“Our politics has been dominated by the two, tired old parties for too long.

"This election provides an opportunity to change the future of our country and build a brighter future with the Liberal Democrats.”

Swinson has hailed the 'bold plan'. Credit: PA
  • ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry has been with the Liberal Democrats on the campaign trail - here's what she makes of the manifesto

The Lib Dems have unveiled their manifesto - and no surprise it’s big on stopping Brexit.

But the eye-catching promise is 20,000 new teachers and there’s tough talk on tackling climate change.

They're pledging 80% of UK electricity will be generated from renewables by 2030, plus a tax on international travellers who fly the most... that might not go down well with international businesses based in the UK.

Other pledges include free childcare from 9 months, an extra 20,000 teachers and scrapping mandatory SATs.

They’ll pay for it with help of £50 billion from the so-called “Remain Bonus”.

But what if they fail to stop Brexit?

The Lib Dems will also introduce a legal, regulated market for cannabis, permitting it to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over 18.

It follows the lead of places like Canada... but there’ll be plenty who don’t approve.

Other measures will see ring-fence funding from a 1p Income Tax increase for mental health services and introducing further mental health maximum waiting times. Mental health and wellbeing features big in this manifesto.

The key manifesto pledges in more detail:

  • Brexit bonus

The manifesto reaffirms the party's commitment to end the Brexit process by revoking Article 50 if there is a majority Lib Dem government following the election on December 12.

If not, the manifesto says they would continue to campaign for a "people's vote" in a fresh referendum with on option to stay in the EU on the ballot paper.

The £50bn figure - spread over five years - is predicated on a Lib Dem forecast that the economy will be 1.9% larger in 2024-25 if Brexit is stopped than it would be under the Conservative Government’s Brexit deal.

In 2024-25, the Remain Bonus will be worth £18bn, they claim.

The Lib Dem's say the bonus is based on a conservative forecast of higher growth under Remain - just 0.4% a year higher on average, similar to forecasts produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in its Green Budget 2019.

  • Renewables

Raising the energy efficiency standards for new homes alongside investing £15 billion over the next Parliament to retrofit 26 million homes.

This would save the average household £550 a year on energy bills, they claim.

A Liberal Democrat government would prioritise accelerating the deployment of renewable power generation, including a new target of doubling solar and wind power by 2030.

Renewable energy will be a priority for a Liberal Democrat government. Credit: PA
  • Skills training

A widely-trailed pledge to provide free childcare for every child aged two to four, for 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, is included. The offer is extended to children aged between nine and 24 months where their parents are in work.

The have also announced a "Skills Wallet", which will provide every adult £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives; £4,000 will be put into the wallet at the age of 25, £3,000 at 40 and another £3,000 at 55.

Individuals, their employers and local government will be able to make additional payments into the wallets. Access to free careers guidance will also be provided.

  • Education

Again, as trailed, the Lib Dems have pledged an emergency cash injection into education of £4.6 billion next year - and will spend £10.6bn more a year by 2024/25.

They will look to boost teaching numbers by 20,000 over five years - increasing starting salaries to £30,000 and guaranteeing all teachers a pay rise of at least 3% a year over the next Parliament.

The funding also includes an increase in support for children with special educational needs or a disability, and money to provide high-quality professional development for teachers.

A fifth of the Remain bonus will be allocated to schools funding.

  • Mental health

Ringfencing funding for mental health will give a cash injection of £11bn fund over the next Parliament putting more investment into services such as:

- child and adolescent mental health,

- matching waiting time standards to those in physical health,

- and expanding our mental health workforce

By prioritising young people coming out of care, and supporting students from school through to colleges and universities, it is possible to ensure that no one will have to travel out of area for all but the most specialist mental health services.

Balancing the books:

Delving into the Liberal Democrats' spending plans also reveals the party is committed to putting 1p on the basic rate of income tax, generating £7.7bn annually; returning corporation tax to 20% - raising almost £10bn annually; and reforming air passenger duty - a "frequent flyer levy" - that would garner almost £5bn annually.

The party also says it is committed to a "responsible and realistic £130 billion package" of additional infrastructure investment, which will include:£86 billion to tackle the climate emergency and protect the environment.

See the full Liberal Democrat manifesto below:

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And, you can check out their costings here:

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