Lib Dems pledge federal UK and an end to Police Scotland VAT

The Liberal Democrats have unveiled a manifesto with a second referendum on EU membership at its heart, promising to give voters a chance to reject Theresa May's 'cold, mean-spirited Britain'.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron joins Scottish leader Willie Rennie and East Dunbartonshire candidate Jo Swinson on a visit to Scotland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron joins Scottish leader Willie Rennie and East Dunbartonshire candidate Jo Swinson on a visit to Scotland. Yui Mok/PA Wire

At a launch event this evening, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron will tell voters they don’t have to accept an “extreme version of Brexit” that would “wreck the future”.

Under the Lib Dems’ proposals, voters would get the final say on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal, with an option on the ballot paper to stay in the EU.

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Mr Farron will say: “You don’t have to accept Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s extreme version of Brexit that will wreck the future for you, your family, your schools and hospitals. In the biggest fight for the future of our country in a generation, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has let you down by voting with Theresa May on Brexit – not against her.

“The Liberal Democrats want you to have your choice over your future. You should have your say on the Brexit deal in a referendum. And if you don’t like the deal you should be able to reject it and choose to remain in Europe.

“We want to give all our children a brighter future in a fairer Britain where people are decent to each other, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy. Not Theresa May’s cold, mean-spirited Britain.”

The Lib Dems say they would give 16 year-olds the vote in all UK-wide elections and referendums.

A constitutional convention would be formed to “deliver home rule to each of the nations of a strong, federal United Kingdom,” the manifesto pledges.

And a written UK constitution will include a provision that the Scottish Parliament can only be abolished “by the sovereign will of the Scottish people”.

The party says its plan to keep Scotland and the UK in the EU single market no matter what will “remove the basis for the SNP’s divisive proposed referendum on independence”.

The Lib Dems also say they will end the “anomaly” which sees Police Scotland charged VAT despite regional forces in England and Wales escaping the charge. The Scottish Government says Police Scotland loses £35 million per year because of the rules on VAT.

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Northeast Scotland will get additional help to reduce its reliance on the fossil fuel industry and diversify its economy as the North Sea declines.

And Scotland would be connected to a new high-speed rail network with approval for the HS2 and HS3 developments.

The party says it will follow Scotland in introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol, provided the Scottish Government wins a legal challenge over its proposals.

Across the UK, the manifesto says the Lib Dems would end the 1% cap on pay rises in the public sector, and reinstate housing benefit for people under the age of 21.

Lib Dems would remove the two-child cap on tax credits and abolish the ‘rape clause’, end the ‘bedroom tax’ and cancel the freeze on benefits.

Income tax would rise by 1% in England and Wales to pay for additional NHS and social care funding, with a 1% increase in the tax on dividends applying across the UK.