Jo Swinson tries to stop Lib Dems' sliding poll ratings as she launches election manifesto

Daily Mail Online 2 weeks ago

Jo Swinson today tried to stop her party's sliding poll ratings as she unveiled the Liberal Democrats' general election manifesto with key pledges to stop Brexit and legalise cannabis. 

The Lib Dems were riding high on 23 per cent in a YouGov poll at the start of October but the party has been sinking ever since with the latest survey giving it a support rating of just 15 per cent.

Ms Swinson attempted to get her party back on track this afternoon as she unveiled her 100-page blueprint for Britain. 

Cancelling the UK's departure from the European Union forms the centre-piece of the party's December 12 offer to voters as it seeks to win over people who backed Remain at the 2016 Brexit referendum. 

Ms Swinson is committing to spending a £50 billion so-called 'Remain Bonus' on boosting public services if the party succeeds in stopping Brexit. 

Jo Swinson, pictured visiting a school in Cambridge this morning, is launching her party's election manifesto today as she tries to stop the Lib Dems' slide in the polls
Jo Swinson, pictured visiting a school in Cambridge this morning, is launching her party's election manifesto today as she tries to stop the Lib Dems' slide in the polls
The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits the party to legalising the sale of cannabis in the UK
The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits the party to legalising the sale of cannabis in the UK

The Lib Dems argue that staying in the EU would enable the UK economy to grow faster than it would under Brexit, leading to more money being available to the government to spend on its priorities. 

Last night Ms Swinson said that if the Lib Dems win the election and she becomes prime minister she would revoke Article 50 on 'day one' as she also suggested the decision to scrap Brexit could be communicated to Brussels 'by email'.

Aside from Brexit, arguably the party's most eye-catching policy pledge is to legalise cannabis and to introduce a licencing system which would allow the drug to be sold over the counter to over-18s. 

The party said in its manifesto that introducing a 'legal, regulated market for cannabis' would 'help to break the grip' of criminal gangs. 

The document said: 'We will introduce limits on the potency levels and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18.' 

The Lib Dems claim that the 'prohibitionist attitude to drug use' from successive Labour and Tory governments 'has been driven by fear rather than evidence'.  

The party's cannabis plan would be informed by legalisation models implemented in Canada and some states in the US.

The manifesto also commits to 'divert people arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment' rather than sending them to prison. 

Back on Brexit, Ms Swinson said ahead of the manifesto launch: 'This manifesto is a bold plan to build a brighter future for our country, and that starts with stopping Brexit.

'Labour and the Conservatives can’t offer the country a brighter future because they both want Brexit. 

'We know that will be bad for our economy, bad for our NHS and bad for our environment. 

'Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and invest in our mental health services, give free childcare to working parents, put 20,000 more teachers into classrooms and take ambitious action to tackle the climate emergency. 

'Our politics has been dominated by the two, tired old parties for too long. 

'This election provides an opportunity to change the future of our country and build a brighter future with the Liberal Democrats.'

Ms Swinson has made stopping Brexit her party's main election policy the Lib Dem manifesto also has a heavy focus on tackling climate change
Ms Swinson has made stopping Brexit her party's main election policy the Lib Dem manifesto also has a heavy focus on tackling climate change 

The party's manifesto is also heavy on proposals designed to tackle climate change. 

The Lib Dems are committing to hiking taxes on people who frequently take international flights while reducing costs for those who only fly once or twice per year. 

The manifesto pledges to: 'Reduce the climate impact of flying by reforming the taxation of international flights to focus on those who fly the most, while reducing costs for those who take one or two international return flights per year.'

It also proposes a 'moratorium on the development of new runways' in the UK and sets out opposition to expansion of existing major airports. 

Meanwhile, the party said a Lib Dem government will generate 80 per cent of Britain's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. 

The manifesto also contains a promise to provide free childcare from the age of nine months, to give every adult £10,000 to spend on skills and training throughout their lives and to recruit 20,000 new teachers as part of an extra £10 billion a year investment plan for schools.


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