The Liberal Democrats are now Britain’s only pro free-trade, pro-business, party. Just recently over 50 business leaders – a number of whom are also Chelsea and Fulham constituents – wrote to The Times to confirm this.
This Conservative government’s Hard Brexit is a disaster for the British economy as it means:
- no longer having the economic might brought by being part the world’s largest trading block;
- paying for years of negotiations with the EU (to renegotiate a deal that tries to come close to the one we already have);
- businesses and skilled employees already announcing their departures.
These are just examples of why the current government announced an (optimistically low) Brexit contingency fund of £60bn.
In Coalition the Liberal Democrats showed they can run the British economy and pushed through a number of positive economic measures, for example:
- Increased the income tax-free threshold from £6,475 to over £10,000: making going to work pay,
- 15 hours of free childcare for over 3 year olds: making it easier, or cheaper, for parents to work or return to work
- Stopped Brexit.
Looking ahead, the Liberal Democrat General Election manifesto pledges to:
- Embrace new technology & start-ups with a Lib Dem “start-up allowance” to help budding entrepreneurs with living costs in the first six months of their new business,
- Review business rates to reduce burdens on small firms and make them the priority for any future business tax cuts,
- Aim in the long-term to raise the employee National Insurance tax-free threshold to the Income Tax-free threshold,
- 15 hrs/week free childcare 2 year olds to make work pay and encourage & assist parents who want to return to work,
- No mansion tax, but a fiscally responsible 1 penny per £ health and social care tax
- Cap elderly social care contribution at £72,000: we don’t think it is fair that families – especially in London and the South-East - should ‘face bills of at least two-thirds of the value of their home before the government steps in to help”
- Keep the pension ‘triple lock’
By contrast, the Conservative manifesto pledges:
- To pull the UK out of the world’s largest single market – to which Britain sells nearly 50% of its exports
- Immigration target in the ‘tens of thousands’ when business depends on foreign workers
- Curbs on foreign takeovers of domestic companies
- Proposals to curb executive pay
- Crippling business rates
- The only tax they promised not to raise is VAT
- To remove caps on the amount the elderly pay for social care
- To end the pension ‘triple lock’
Now, more than ever, we need a centrist, liberal, modern party in government. And British business agrees.
Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, quoted in the Financial Times: www.ft.com