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My #Hastings #StLeonards #Rye election statement, as published by Hastings Online Times

May 21, 2017

Theresa May is channelling Nigel Farage; only the Liberal Democrats have offered any serious opposition

Don’t be fooled.

Theresa May isn’t trying to get the best Brexit deal for Britain, she’s trying to get the best deal for the Conservative Party.

A landslide general election victory won’t make her appear any stronger to the EU negotiators, but it will give her a much stronger mandate to push through policies that will weaken the economy, damage the NHS, undermine our children’s education and result in making the rich ‘richer’ and our poorest even ‘poorer’ than they already are.

Sending a cohort of Lib Dem MPs to Westminster will send a loud message to Theresa May that she can’t ignore the voices of all those who recognise the stupidity of a hard Brexit, and want to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

As many of you will know, I have spent the last 10 years fighting for Hastings, St Leonards and Rye. These are my priorities for #GE2017:

  • To provide effective opposition and scrutiny regarding the disastrous hard Brexit that Theresa May and Nigel Farage want imposed on our country. The Lib Dems will fight to keep Britain in the Single Market, and for a reformed EU that offers the best future for our young people.
  • To protect our NHS from a government that has not only failed to provide the money and reforms it so desperately needs, but has also shown that it would rather pander to the ‘anti-immigration’ lobby than ensure that we have adequately qualified medical and nursing staff, and enough of them, so that the system can run effectively.

The Lib Dems will increase NHS funding by putting an extra 1p on Income Tax; and fight to ensure that doctors, nurses and essential staff from the EU are able to carry on working in the NHS where they are so desperately needed. We will provide an extra £1bn for mental health services.

  • To fight to reverse the Tory cuts to our school budgets that have resulted in schools in deprived areas getting less money, and those in richer areas getting more.

Theresa May plans to slash over £3bn from school budgets by 2019/20 – effectively reducing spending by 8% per child. This is the opposite of what is needed to ensure that our children get the education they deserve, and the country gets the well-educated workforce it needs.

The Lib Dems will guarantee our own Pupil Premium (which protects the most disadvantaged children) and reverse Theresa May’s cuts by investing £6.9bn into school funding.

Please don’t let Theresa May destroy our children’s chances of a decent education.

  • To work to ensure that local businesses are protected from the crippling import and export tariffs, increased red-tape and, for some businesses, the inability to recruit the ‘specialist’ workers they need, that will result from a hard Brexit.

Our livestock farmers will struggle to keep their animals healthy without the 50% of non-British vets currently working in the UK, and local fruit producers won’t be able to pick their crops without easy access to European casual workers.

Our language schools are likely to see falling student numbers if (as seems probable) EU students face the same costs and restrictions in obtaining ‘student visas’ that currently apply to non-EU students, making Hastings much less attractive for the young Germans, Italians and Spaniards who’ve been so vital to our local economy.

  • To continue to fight for better rail and road services, because without radical improvements to our transport infrastructure there won’t be any step-change in regeneration for Hastings and Rye.

There need to be drastic improvements to our existing roads, an end to industrial action on Southern Rail and an immediate start on the St Pancras/Ashford HS1 extension so that we have an efficient, affordable and fully integrated rail system that links Hastings and Rye to both London and Europe.

Some improvements have been made, but these have slowed since Amber embarked on her ministerial careers.

  • To protect the environment and the future of Green Industry by challenging the Conservative Party to prioritise the environmental.

Every year between 40/50 thousand people in Britain die prematurely due to the polluted air they breathe, and, despite being told twice by British Courts that its policies were ‘illegally poor’, the Government has yet to publish an acceptable plan for reducing the lethal levels of toxins in the air.

The Lib Dems are committed to improving air quality and creating a safer, healthier and more sustainable environment.

We will be the effective Opposition that Labour has failed to be.

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