The Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2019 – Stop Brexit: Build A Brighter Future

November 20, 2019 Charles Cummins

The Lib Dem’s have published their General Election manifesto entitled ‘Stop Brexit: Build a Brighter Future’ and a ‘manifesto costings summary’ setting out their spending plans and where they predict the additional Government income required to pay for their proposals will come from, which includes a £50m ‘Remain Bonus’ dependent on the UK not leaving the EU.

Their manifesto includes pledges to invest £130bn in infrastructure, a £10,000 per person ‘Skills Wallet’, a reversal of cuts to school funding, a renewables target of 80% of UK electricity by 2030, investment in public transport and rail electrification, an additional £7bn a year for the NHS and social care through a 1p increase in income tax, £6bn for the benefits system, building an additional 100,000 social homes a year, a £50bn Regional Rebalancing Programme, a transformation of the immigration system, changes to the voting system and votes for 16 year olds, a commitment to NATO defence spending and an end to arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

A full summary can be found below:


Stop Brexit

  • Revoke Article 50 if elected with a majority government, otherwise fight for a second referendum and campaign to keep the UK in the EU.
  • Protect and maintain freedom of movement, and extend the right to vote in all elections to EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years or longer.
  • Introduce a legal requirement for council to inform citizens of what they need to do to be registered to vote, and make the changes needed to ensure the UK has an automatic system of inclusion in elections.
  • Use the £50bn ‘Remain Bonus’ to invest in public services and tackle inequality.

Our Plan for a Stronger Economy

Priorities in the next Parliament: 

  • Invest £130 billion in infrastructure – upgrading transport and energy systems, building schools, hospitals and homes, empowering all regions and nations of the UK and developing the climate-friendly infrastructure of the future.
  • Enable an adaptable, future-focused workforce – empowering individuals through new Skills Wallets worth £10,000 for every individual.
  • Introduce a wellbeing budget and basing decisions for government spending on what will improve wellbeing as well as on economic and fiscal indicators.

Further Details: 

  • Increase spending on R&D to 3% of GDP, with an interim target of 2.4% by 2027, double innovation spending in the economy, creating more ‘Catapult’ innovation centres.
  • Introduce a new two-year visa for students to work after graduation, and expand high-quality apprenticeships supported by new sector-led National Colleges.
  • Reform building standards to ensure all homes built from 2022 have full connectivity to ultra-fast broadband and are designed to enable the use of smart technologies.
  • Reform the British Business Bank’s support for venture capital funds by allowing it to help funds ‘crowd in’ new backers, and expand it to allow it to play a more central role in the economy.
  • Develop a mechanism to allow the public to share in profits made by technology companies in the use of their data.
  • Create a ‘start-up allowance’ to support new businesses and provide mentoring advice to those looking to scale-up. Prioritise SMEs in the rollout of hyper-fast broadband.
  • Oblige all government contractors with over 250 employers to sign up to the prompt payment code.
  • Require companies with over 250 employers to have employee representation on their boards.
  • Introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights, and reform fiduciary duty to ensure all large companies have a formal statement of corporate purpose.
  • Require binding and public votes of shareholders on executive pay policies.
  • Increase corporation tax to 20% and tax capital gains and salaries through a single allowance.
  • Replace Business Rates with a Commercial Landowner Levy.
  • Introduce a General Anti-Avoidance Rule setting a target for HMRC to reduce the tax gap, and improve the Digital Sales Tax to make tech giants pay their ‘fair share’.
  • End retrospective tax changes like the loan charge and scrap the Marriage Tax Allowance.
  • Establish a Worker Protection Enforcement Agency to protect people in precarious work.
  • Make flexible working open to all from day one unless business reasons mean it is not possible.
  • Set a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts and give a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months of working on a zero-hour contract.
  • Strengthen the ability of union to represent workers in the modern economy.
  • Expand the apprenticeship levy into a Skills and Training Levy with 25% of funds raised going into a Social Mobility Fund targeted at areas with the greatest need.
  • Protect the independence of the Bank of England and maintain the inflation target of 2%.
  • Introduce a wellbeing budget, appoint a Minister for Wellbeing and base decisions on what would improve wellbeing as well as on economic and fiscal indicators.

Our Plan for Better Education and Skills

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • Provide free, high-quality childcare for children of working parents from nine months.
  • Reverse cuts to school funding, employing an extra 20,000 schoolteachers, and clearing the backlog of repairs to school and college buildings.
  • End “teaching to the test” by scrapping mandatory SATs, and replacing existing government performance tables (‘league tables’) of schools with a broader set of indicators.

Further Details: 

  • Invest £1bn a year in Children’s Centres to tackle inequalities in children’s health, development and life chances, and triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000.
  • Allocate additional cash to local authorities to halve the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s Education Health and Care Plan.
  • Introduce a ‘curriculum for life’ including PSHE, financial literacy, environmental awareness, first aid, mental health education and RSE.
  • Replace Ofsted with an HM Inspector of Schools, with inspections taking place every three years.
  • Give local authorities responsibility for places planning, exclusions, entries and SEND functions.
  • Oppose any future expansion of grammar schools.
  • Raise teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 with a 3% increase each year.
  • Extend free school meals to all primary school children, and to secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit.
  • Invest £1bn in Further Education, such as through refunding colleges the VAT they pay.
  • Introduce a Young People’s Premium to help children from poorer families remain in education and training.
  • Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students and establish a review of higher education finance.
  • Maintain free access to national museums and galleries, and protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery.
  • Set up a BBC License Fee Commission, protect the independence of the BBC and maintain Channel 4 in public ownership.

Our Plan for a Green Society and a Green Economy

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • An emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty.
  • Invest in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 – and banning fracking for good.
  • Protect nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.
  • Invest in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.

Further Details:

  • Require all companies registered in the UK to set targets consistent with the Paris Agreement and regulate financial services to encourage green investments.
  • Establish a Department for Climate Change and Natural Resources and appoint a cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury.
  • Support investment and innovation in zero-carbon and resource-efficient infrastructure and technologies by creating a new Green Investment Bank.
  • Implement the UK’s G7 pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
  • Remove restrictions on solar and wind power, invest in cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, demand response, smart grids and hydrogen, and support CCS technology.
  • End fuel poverty by 2025.
  • Provide free retrofitting for low-income homes and reduce VAT on home insulation.
  • Graduate Stamp Duty Land Tax by the energy rating of the property.
  • Require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard by 2021.
  • Increase minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties
  • Adopt a Zero-Carbon Heat Strategy, encompassing the phased installation of heat pumps in homes and businesses off the gas grid.
  • End support from UK Export Finance for fossil fuel-related activities.
  • Ban non-recyclable single-use plastics and replace them with affordable alternatives.
  • Extend the deposit return schemes for all food and drink bottles and containers, working with the devolved administrations to ensure consistency across the UK.
  • Invest in large scale restoration of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters, helping to absorb carbon and protect against floods.
  • Introduce a National Food Strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food.
  • Accelerate the transition to ultra-low-emission transport through taxation, subsidy and regulation.
  • Accelerate the rapid take-up of electric vehicles by reforming vehicle taxation, cutting VAT on EVs to 5 per cent and increasing the rate of installation of charging points.
  • End the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
  • Shift more freight from road to rail, including electrifying lines leading from major ports as an urgent priority, and amend the current HGV road user levy to take account of carbon emissions.
  • Pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organisation guidelines.
  • Oppose any expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted and any new airport in the Thames Estuary, introduce zero-carbon fuels blending requirement for domestic flights, and introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy.
  • Give local authorities the ability to introduce network-wide ticketing.
  • Introduce a nationwide strategy to promote walking and cycling, increasing spending to 10 per cent of the transport budget.
  • Convert the rail network to ultra-low-emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035.
  • Support High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East-West Rail and Crossrail 2, but ensure far tighter financial controls.

Our Plan for Health and Social Care

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • Raise £7 billion a year in additional revenue by putting 1p on Income Tax, with this money to be ringfenced for spending on the NHS and social care.
  • Transform mental health by treating it with the same urgency as physical health.
  • Reform the Health and Social Care Act as recommended by the NHS, to make the NHS work in a more efficient and joined-up way, and to end the automatic tendering of services.

Further Details:

  • Establish a cross-party health and social care convention to reach agreement on the long-term sustainable funding of a joined-up system of health and social care.
  • Introduce a statutory independent budget monitoring body for health and care, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
  • Develop a scheme to reward employers who invest in the mental wellbeing of their employees, piloting reduced business rates for employers who support employees’ mental wellbeing and provide mental health first aid training.
  • End the GP shortfall by 2025.
  • Move towards single place-based budgets for health and social care to encourage greater collaboration between the local NHS and Local Authorities in commissioning.
  • Develop a strategy to tackle childhood obesity including restricting the marketing of junk food to children.
  • Close loopholes in the Soft Drinks Industry Levy and extend it to include juice- and milk-based drinks that are high in added sugar.
  • Require labelling of food products, in a readable font size, and publication of information on calorie, fat, sugar and salt content in restaurants and takeaways.
  • Reduce smoking rates by introducing a new levy on tobacco companies to contribute to the costs of health care and smoking cessation services.
  • Legislate for the right to unpolluted air.
  • Introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol and provide universal access to addiction treatment.
  • Help to break the grip of the criminal gangs by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis.

Our Plan to Build a Fair Society

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • Invest £6 billion per year to make the benefits system work for people who need it and reducing the wait for the first benefits payment from five weeks to five days.
  • Introduce a principle of universal access to basic services: starting by building 100,000 social homes a year, ending rough sleeping and bringing in a new legal right to food.
  • Create a £50 billion Regional Rebalancing Programme to address the historic investment disparities between our nations and regions.
  • Adopt a public health approach to serious violence by investing £1 billion to restore community policing and ringfencing £500m for youth services fund to local authorities.

Further Details:

  • Reinstate the Independent Living Fund.
  • Increase Local Housing Allowance in line with average rents in an area.
  • Reform Universal Credit to be more supportive of the self-employed.
  • Retain the Triple Lock on the basic state pension, so that it rises in line with the highest of wages, prices or 2.5 per cent.
  • Build at least 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensure that total housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year.
  • Devolve full control of Right to Buy to local councils.
  • Scrap the Vagrancy Act, so that rough sleeping is no longer criminalised.
  • Tackle modern slavery and human trafficking through proactive, intelligence-led enforcement of labour market standards.
  • Replace Police and Crime Commissioners with accountable Police Boards made up of local councillors.

Our Plan for Freedom, Rights and Equality

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • Stand up for human rights by championing the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Fix the broken immigration system by scrapping the Conservatives’ hostile environment, ending indefinite detention and taking powers away from the Home Office.
  • Give asylum seekers the right to work three months after they have applied and resettle 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children in the UK over the next ten years.

Further Details:

  • Invest £500m to restore Legal Aid.
  • Introduce a Lovelace Code of Ethics to govern the use of personal data and artificial intelligence.
  • Immediately halt the use of facial recognition surveillance by the police.
  • Introduce a right to no-fault divorce and extend limited legal rights to cohabiting couples.
  • Make all hate crimes aggravated offences, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
  • Reform the Gender Recognition Act and introduce an ‘X’ gender option on passports.
  • Increase accessibility to transport by making more stations wheelchair accessible and introduce a British Sign Language Act.
  • Remove VAT on sanitary products and provide them for free in a multitude of public buildings.
  • Replace Tier 2 work visas with a more flexible merit-based system, introduce a ‘Training up Britain’ programme to make the most of migrants’ skills, create a new two-year visa for students to work after graduation, and reduce the fee for registering a child as a British citizen from £1,012 to the cost of administration.
  • Move asylum policymaking from the Home Office to the Department for International Development, provide free basic English lessons to refugees and asylum seekers and increase the ‘move-on period’ for refugees from 28 days to 60 days.

Our Plan for Better Politics

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • Give people a voice with a fair voting system so that everyone’s vote counts equally, letting people vote at the first election or referendum after they turn 16 and giving votes to all British citizens abroad and to EU citizens who have made the UK their long-term home.
  • Embark on a radical redistribution of power away from Westminster to the nations, regions and local authorities, giving power to communities to hold local services to account and decide how their taxes are raised and spent.
  • Introduce a written constitution for a federal United Kingdom.

Further Details:

  • Introduce proportional representation through the Single Transferable Vote for electing MPs and local councillors in England, enable all UK citizens living abroad to vote for MPs in separate overseas constituencies and scrap plans for voter ID.
  • Reform the House of Lords with a democratic mandate and enable Parliament, rather than the Queen-in-Council, to approve when parliament is prorogued and for how long.
  • Devolve further revenue-raising powers away from Westminster, to regions from Cornwall to North East England, and key levers of economic development including transport, energy, housing and skills.
  • Mandate the provision of televised leaders’ debates in general elections.
  • Strengthen and expand the lobbying register and ban MPs from accepting paid lobbying work.
  • Increase transparency over political advertising, donations, spending and algorithms used in digital advertising.
  • Specifically include health and education departments of the Scottish and Welsh governments in UK policymaking on drug policy and student visas.
  • Create a Joint Climate Council of the Nations to coordinate action to tackle the climate emergency.
  • Oppose a second independence referendum in Scotland.
  • Allocate to the Scottish Parliament all of the powers set out in the Scotland Act 2016.
  • Devolve Air Passenger Duty and powers over policing and prisons to the Welsh Assembly.

Our Plan for a Better World

Priorities in the next Parliament:

  • Defend international cooperation against the rising tides of nationalism and isolationism, supporting multilateral organisations like the UN and NATO which are increasingly under threat.
  • Spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on aid: reducing poverty, defending human rights, protecting the environment and preventing violent conflict worldwide.
  • Cooperate with the UK’s European and global partners in tackling the climate and environmental emergencies.
  • Control arms exports to countries with poor human rights records and, as part of this, suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Further Details: 

  • Introduce a European Magnitsky Act that would enable sanctions against corrupt individuals and perpetrators of human rights abuses.
  • Improve control of arms exports, including by introducing a policy of ‘presumption of denial’ for arms exports to countries listed as Human Rights Priority Countries in the FCO’s annual human rights report.
  • Legislate to ensure there is a parliamentary vote before engaging in military action.
  • Commit to the principle of collective self-defence as laid out in the North Atlantic Treaty and spend two per cent of GDP on defence in line with NATO recommendations.
  • Strengthen the UK’s armed services and address critical skills shortages by recruiting STEM graduates to be armed forces engineers, providing ‘golden handshakes’ of up to £10,000.
  • Promote an international treaty on the principles and limits of the use of technology in modern warfare.
  • Recognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere by investing in the UK’s security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyberattacks.
  • Maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent, while pursuing multilateral nuclear disarmament: continue with the Dreadnought programme but procure three boats and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture and maintain the deterrent.
  • Increase the proportion of the aid budget committed to tackling climate change and environmental degradation.
  • Work through international bodies for better regulation and scrutiny of international trade and investment treaties to ensure they do not worsen inequalities or undermine human rights.
  • Develop proposals with the BBC for investment to grow the World Service to reach more people across the world and continue to support BBC Monitoring and the British Council.
  • Initiate negotiations within the UN for a legally binding international treaty on plastics reduction.
  • Argue for an end to all fossil fuel subsidies world-wide and provide aid to developing countries to help them transition to clean sources of energy.