Lib Dems pledge eventual EU return and tax hikes for NHS in manifesto launch

An eventual return to the European Union’s central market, and tax hikes of £27bn to fund major investments in health, social care and public services feature most prominently in the Lib Dem manifesto, which was launched yesterday.

Sir Ed Davey put a £9.4bn-a-year package for the NHS and social care at the heart of his party’s manifesto, funded by a tax raid on banks and the super-rich.

Crucially, the manifesto also committed to seek to reverse one of the major Brexit decisions by placing the “UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing” by rejoining the single market – something that would result in the return of free movement.

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The party plans to fund its promises with a series of tax rises which amount to £26.7 billion in 2028-29, including:

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey during the party's General Election manifesto launch at Lumiere London. Picture date: Monday June 10, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Election LibDems. Photo credit should read: Lucy North/PA WireLiberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey during the party's General Election manifesto launch at Lumiere London. Picture date: Monday June 10, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Election LibDems. Photo credit should read: Lucy North/PA Wire
Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey during the party's General Election manifesto launch at Lumiere London. Picture date: Monday June 10, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Election LibDems. Photo credit should read: Lucy North/PA Wire

– “Reversing Tory tax cuts” for banks, restoring bank surcharge and bank levy revenues to 2016 levels in real terms.

– Increasing the Digital Services Tax on social media firms and other tech giants from 2 per cent to 6 per cent.

– Reforming capital gains tax – paid on profits from selling an asset – to “close loopholes exploited by the super-wealthy”.

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– Introducing a 4 per cent tax on the share buyback schemes of FTSE-100 listed companies, to incentivise investment, job creation and economic growth.

– A “proper” windfall tax on oil and gas giants.

– A “super tax” on private jet travel and the removal of VAT exemptions for private, first-class and business-class flight.

As an Abba classic played at the manifesto launch in London, Sir Ed urged voters to “Take A Chance” on him.

The manifesto features a “four-stage roadmap” for the UK’s relationship with its European neighbours.

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“Once ties of trust and friendship have been renewed and the damage the Conservatives have caused to trade between the UK and EU has begun to be repaired, we would aim to place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the single market,” the manifesto reads.

This process would begin with “initial unilateral steps to rebuild the relationship, starting by declaring a fundamental change in the UK’s approach and improving channels for foreign policy co-operation”.

But at the core of the Lib Dems’ pitch to voters is the package of health and care pledges.

Sir Ed, himself a carer for his 16-year-old son John, launched his manifesto by telling audiences about his own experience.

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He said: “The truth is, unless we properly value care, unless we properly support carers, we will never be able to fix the crisis in our NHS or get our economy back on track.

“And that’s why I’m so proud the Liberal Democrats have put health and care at the heart of our campaign in this General Election, and at the heart of our manifesto too.”

The party would recruit or retain 8,000 extra GPs to give a right to be seen by a doctor within seven days.

The Liberal Democrats also want to guarantee access to NHS dentistry for those in need of urgent care, and they promised to implement the recommendations of the UK Infected Blood Inquiry in full, including “full and fair compensation to all victims of the scandal in a timely and transparent manner”.

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