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Lib Dems include Gib pledge in election manifesto

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson during the launch of her party's manifesto at FEST, Stables Market in Camden ahead of the General Election. PA Photo. Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Liberal Democrats have included a manifesto pledge to support the right of the people of Gibraltar to remain in the European Union, as the party put stopping Brexit at the heart of its general election platform.
The party's manifesto, published on Wednesday, reaffirms its commitment to end the Brexit process by revoking Article 50 if there is a majority Lib Dem government following the election on December 12.
Gibraltar’s inclusion in the Lib Dems manifesto comes after party Leader Jo Swinson expressed her support for Gibraltar at the recent Liberal Democrat party conference.
Ms Swinson declared “We stand with you” as she visited the Gibraltar stand and addressed a reception hosted by the Gibraltar Government in September.
The party is seeking to underline its claim to be the party of Remain and its commitment to revoke Article 50 has long been the preferred Brexit option of the Gibraltar Government.
"The election of a Liberal Democrat majority government on a clear stop Brexit platform will provide a democratic mandate to stop this mess, revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU," the manifesto read.
"In other circumstances, we will continue to fight for a people's vote with the option to stay in the EU, and in that vote we would passionately campaign to keep the UK in the EU."
The Lib Dems said Brexit would mean an end to freedom of movement which had brought the UK “tremendous social, economic and cultural benefits”, allowing Britons to work, study and retire anywhere in the EU.
“There is no contradiction between our European and our British, national and regional identities: they enrich one another,” the party said in its manifesto.
“By stopping Brexit, Liberal Democrats will protect and maintain freedom of movement, safeguarding the rights of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.”
“Liberal Democrats will also support the right of the people of Gibraltar to remain in the European Union.”
The Lib Dems argue that staying in the EU would generate a £50 billion "Remain bonus" over five years, through higher levels of growth.
They estimate the economy will be 1.9% larger in 2024-25 than it would be under Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, giving them extra funding to spend on their priorities in the years ahead.
They include a target of doubling the amount of power generated through renewables by 2030 while investing £15 billion over five years in retro-fitting 26 million homes with insulation and zero-carbon heating.
The party says it would increase opportunities through providing 35 hours a week free childcare for all two to four year-olds - with the offer extended to those aged nine to 24 months where the parents are working.
At the same time the party says it would give all adults £10,000 to spend on skills and training throughout their lives through the creation of a new "skills wallet".
The manifesto promises to reverse frontline budget cuts for schools in England since 2015 with an emergency cash injection of £4.6 billion next year.
It says that by 2024-25, they will be spending £10.6 billion more on schools than is currently being spent - enabling them to increase the number of teachers by 20,000 over five years.
The party is also promising that mental health services would be treated with the same urgency as physical health with a £11 billion cash injection over the lifetime of the parliament.
Frequent flyers would be targeted by reforms to air passenger duty, which are estimated to raise £4.86 billion a year by 2024-25.
The party said it will be connected to the number of times people fly - meaning those who fly once a year for a family holiday would pay a lower amount than the current scheme.
A consultation would take place before any changes were implemented, the Lib Dems said, which would apply to international return flights rather than domestic flights.
The Lib Dems also believe £1.49 billion a year can be raised by 2024-25 by introducing a cannabis duty, which they hope would "break the grip" of criminal gangs.
Limits on potency levels would be introduced and cannabis would be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18, according to the manifesto.
On Britain's nuclear deterrent, the manifesto brings an end to continual at sea deterrence - meaning the number of boats would be reduced and the country would not commit to have them at sea every second of every day.
The party has also said it would want to hold discussions with the BBC about free TV licences for over-75s.

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