Farron: Hunt has lost public confidence over doctors’ strike

Tim Farron
Tim Farron
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TIM Farron claimed Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had lost the confidence of the British public over his handling of the junior doctors’ strike in a speech today

The Liberal Democrat leader told party activists the Health Secretary was “jeopardising” the future of the NHS by battling doctors instead of working with them,

It’s time we transformed the way we treat small business in this country.

Tim Farron

Speaking at the party’s spring conference in York he said: “Jeremy Hunt, enough is enough. You have mishandled this dispute with junior doctors. You have lost their confidence.

“You have lost the confidence of NHS staff. You have lost the confidence of the British people. You have proved that the NHS is at risk in Tory hands.”

Mr Farron used his speech to promise to put help for small firms at the heart of the party’s economic policy.

And in an echo of the approach the Lib Dems have previously taken on low earners and income tax, Mr Farron set a target of taking the smallest businesses out of the tax system.

A recent agreement by Google to pay £130 million in back taxes was initially hailed as a success by Chancellor George Osborne but was subsequently branded “disproportionately small” by the Public Accounts Committee of MPs.

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Speaking at the Lib Dem spring conference, Mr Farron said: “We currently have a broken tax system that allows Google and Facebook to negotiate for months, yet small businesses can’t even get through on the phone.

“It’s time we transformed the way we treat small business in this country.

“Instead of Government fawning over the conglomerates, and getting to small business later, how about putting small business at the centre of our business economy.”

Mr Farron announced he had asked former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable to lead a panel looking at the reform of business taxes.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, he accused Mr Osborne of using the public finances as “political theatre” and brand his “long term economic plan” a “short term political scam”.

He said: “Thanks to the tough choices we took, the structural deficit will be abolished by next year.

“So, the UK now stands at a crossroads.

“Osborne is taking an unnecessary political choice to cut further.

“If the Chancellor really wanted to help the economy, he would invest in, and help our local communities.”

Mr Farron earned standing ovations from the audience at York’s Barbican as he branded David Cameron’s treatment of Afghan interpreters who helped British forces a “disgrace” and berated the Government for not doing more to help refugees.

“Now is the time to say that when thousands of innocent kids are stranded cold and alone in camps in Europe, we don’t give a monkeys what the focus groups say.

“Now is the time to turn and face this crisis, to choose to play our part.

“Now is the time to take a stand, to lead,” he said.