General Election: Labour calls on Lib Dems to confirm commitment to reverse tuition fees 'damage'

Evening Standard Politics 3 weeks ago

Labour has told the Lib Dems to confirm if the party will commit to "reversing the damage" it caused by trebling university tuition fees while part of the coalition government.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said Labour's pledge to scrap tuition fees would be paid for by asking corporations and high earners to contribute more.

She accused Jo Swinson’s party of "alienating young people from politics" and saddling aspiring students with "crippling debt”.

Under Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems U-turned on a 2010 election pledge not to increase the charges when it went into coalition with the Conservative Party.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson (REUTERS)

In a letter published on Friday, Ms Rayner called on the Ms Swinson to confirm if her party will reverse the damage it and the Conservatives inflicted upon students. She added: "You and your party have been silent on your tuition fees policies.

"The Liberal Democrats betrayed students by supporting the trebling of tuition fees when in coalition with the Conservatives, despite promising to abolish student loans in your 2010 manifesto.

"This U-turn, which you voted for, not only alienated many young people from politics but has also saddled aspiring students with crippling debt at the start of their careers.

"I'm sure you will agree that young people have a right to the information they need to decide if the Liberal Democrats can be trusted with their future.

"So will you instruct your Treasury spokesperson, Ed Davey, to confirm tomorrow if you will commit to reversing the damage that Liberal Democrat and Conservative governments have inflicted upon students?"

The letter comes after senior Lib Dem Sam Gyimah, who served as a Tory universities minister before defecting to the Lib Dems over Brexit, said on Monday that the idea of zero university tuition fees was a "fantasy".

The party's business spokesman insisted such a move would "ration" places.

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