Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats have released its general election manifesto, pledging to hold a second EU referendum, scrap the marriage allowance, legalise cannabis, and implement policies which will increase immigration.
“We passionately believe that Britain’s relationship with its neighbours is stronger as part of the European Union,” the manifesto declares. “Britain is better off in the EU.”
The party claims they “acknowledge the result of the 2016 referendum”, in which Leave defeated Remain by over a million ballots. But the Lib Dems insists that, as there was “no option on the ballot paper to choose the shape of our future relationship with the EU on vital issues”, the Government does not have a mandate for what they describe as a “hard” Brexit.
“That’s why, when the terms of our future relationship with the EU have been negotiated … we will put that deal to a vote of the British people in a referendum, with the alternative option of staying in the EU on the ballot paper.”
The manifesto adds that the Liberal Democrats “continue to believe that there is no deal as good for the UK outside the EU as the one it already has as a member”.
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) May 17, 2017
On immigration, the manifesto pledges the party will make “the positive case” and “[reduce] hate crimes by targeting the people who commit them and making all hate crimes aggravated offences, allowing for harsher sentencing”.
“Immigration is essential to our economy and a benefit to our society. We depend on immigration,” it declares.
The fact that “large-scale immigration has placed strains on some local communities and services” is briefly recognised. However, the party’s policies are all aimed at increasing it: 50,000 migrants from Syria are to be taken in “over the lifetime of the next parliament”; migrants are to be empowered to bring family members to the country more easily; and the Dubs mechanism for the admission of so-called “child refugees” is to be re-opened.
Nothing appears to be offered by way of mitigation besides a Migration Impact Fund to help local communities “adjust” to the changes.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 11, 2017
The party also vows to scrap the marriage allowance, which permits spouses on low incomes to transfer part of their personal income tax allowance to their partners, and to legalise cannabis for over 18s.
The party claims the drug could generate substantial tax revenues for the Government, and that “the war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure”.
Some conservative commentators, however, claim there are no serious efforts to prosecute a war against cannabis abuse, citing the collapse in arrests for possession as indicative of a de facto decriminalisation.