Lib Dems pledge £50bn in bid to bridge North-South divide
Swinson on campaign trail as party targets marginal Yorkshire seat
THE LIBERAL Democrats have vowed to heal the North-South divide with £50bn of investment which will be ploughed into tackling regional inequalities across the country.
The party has today revealed that it would reverse regional under-investment from the Conservatives and “bring the North to the front of the queue for once”.
Although the Lib Dems did not confirm exactly where the money would be spent geographically, they said it would be used on sustainable infrastructure projects, such as electrifying railways, increasing the availability of charging points for electric vehicles and improving broadband access.
Both the Conservatives and Labour also vowed to increase spending in the North if they won the General Election on Thursday.
The Tories committed to the Northern Powerhouse Rail, a new train network linking Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds, which the party said would be paid for out of economic growth.
And Labour has promised £16bn of new investment specifically in Yorkshire from its Green Transformation Fund, which would be paid for by undoing the current government’s tax cuts for the super rich and would boost jobs and growth in the region, the party said.
The Liberal Democrat spokesman for the North, John Leech, said: “Westminster’s answer always seems to be ‘Connect the North to London’. It’s time politicians down South realised that living in the North is not a stepping stone to London.
“We need to fix the problems in the North rather than just making it easier to move people down South.”
And the Liberal Democrat Chancellor Ed Davey added: “Neither Labour or the Tories can square their spending promises today with the cost of Brexit. They are writing promises on cheques that will bounce. In contrast, every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit, build a brighter future and invest billions into our vital public services.”
Speaking to supporters in Broomhill, Sheffield, yesterday, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said: “We know we can be an open, fair, liberal and inclusive society. That is the future that we are fighting for.
“Liberal Democrats will always fight for that brighter future, and we can win the MPs we need to make it happen, to deny that Boris Johnson majority government, sending more Liberal Democrat MPs to Westminster to fight to stop Brexit and build a better future.”
Mrs Swinson was speaking in Sheffield Hallam, a target seat for the Lib Dems which was held by former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who famously lost his seat by just 2,125 votes at the last election in 2017 to then-Labour candidate Jared O’Mara.
Earlier this year, Mr O’Mara decided not to stand as a candidate again after being accused of posting misogynistic and homophobic comments online. The constituency has become a rare three-way marginal with the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories all standing a chance of winning the seat this week.
Mrs Swinson lived in Yorkshire for a number of years and was unsuccessful in Kingston upon Hull East in 2001 when she stood for election against then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
She said many seats nationally could be won or lost by a “handful of votes”.
She added: “So much (of) our country’s future hinges on what we all collectively do in the next few days.”
TARGET SEAT: Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson speaks to supporters during a visit to the Sheffield Hallam constituency.