Lib Dems pledge £50bn in bid to bridge North-South di­vide

Swin­son on cam­paign trail as party tar­gets mar­ginal York­shire seat

Yorkshire Post - - POLITICS & ECONOMY - ROBYN VINTER NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: robyn.vinter@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

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.”

PIC­TURE: DANNY LAW­SON/PA WIRE

TAR­GET SEAT: Lib Dem leader Jo Swin­son speaks to sup­port­ers dur­ing a visit to the Sh­effield Hal­lam con­stituency.

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