The Lib Dems are the only party who can stop Theresa May's cold, mean-spirited vision for Britain

In the frantic whirl of the election campaign, I’ve travelled from Truro to St Andrews and back down to Cardiff. On this journey, I’ve met people of all walks of life who, like me, are deeply troubled by the future 

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The Independent Online

Today I’m publishing “Change Britain’s Future”, the Liberal Democrat plan for a fairer Britain where people are decent to each other, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy.

Nothing is more important to our children’s future than Brexit. A bad Brexit deal, with Britain outside the single market, will wreck the future for our children, our economy, our schools and hospitals. That’s why at the heart of the manifesto is a commitment to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal in a referendum, with the option to reject it and remain in the EU if they don’t like the deal they are offered.

This election is about your choice over your future. A vote for the Liberal Democrats can change Britain's future.

In the frantic whirl of the election campaign, I’ve travelled from Truro to St Andrews and back down to Cardiff. On this journey, I’ve met people of all walks of life who, like me, are deeply troubled by the future of our public services.

Schools and hospitals are in crisis. Head teachers are being forced to lay off teachers and cut back on equipment and training. They are pleading for extra funding and warning budgets are becoming unsustainable.

Meanwhile, A&E waiting times have soared. Every day, 1,500 patients lie on trolleys for hours, waiting for a bed, and hundreds more have their operations cancelled. The Royal College of Nurses warns of a dangerous shortage of nursing staff.

Inadequate social care only exacerbates the problem, with thousands of beds occupied by people who don’t want or need to be there, but can’t yet get care at home or in their communities.

Mental health services, too, are woefully underfunded. In some areas, patients have to wait up to a year for services. An FOI request last year showed that some children are waiting up to three years for adequate treatment, with specialists having to turn away one in four children referred to them. This is shaming.

By cutting funding for schools and refusing to give the NHS the money it needs, the uncaring Conservative government is stretching public services to breaking point.

Liberal Democrats are offering you a brighter future. You don't need to settle for Theresa May's cold, mean-spirited Britain. You don’t have to settle for a bad Brexit deal that will cost jobs and put up prices. You don’t have to settle for run down schools and hospitals.

General Election polls and projections: May 17

Only the Liberal Democrats have a credible, costed plan to put our public services back on the track. We’ll invest £7bn in our schools, reversing Conservative cuts and making sure funding keeps up with both inflation and rising pupil numbers. We’ll put an extra £415m towards the pupil premium, introduced by Liberal Democrats in Coalition, and which pays for additional support for the most disadvantaged pupils. And we’ll invest in our teachers, too, with £165m to give every teacher an entitlement to 25 hours of professional development a year.

We will also give the NHS the extra £6bn a year it needs, and will pay for it by raising income tax rates by 1p. Yes, that means asking everyone to chip in a little extra, but we believe the British people are prepared to do that to save one of this country’s greatest institutions and ensure high-quality healthcare is available to everyone, throughout their lives. And we’ll ring-fence £1bn of that money for mental health care, to finally bring standards up to those we expect for physical health.

But saving the NHS is about more than money. We need to properly integrate our health and social care systems and put them on a sustainable footing for the future. That’s why the Liberal Democrats will establish a cross-party health and care convention that will work with patients, staff and the public to find a long-term solution.

We are also offering a real plan to tackle the housing crisis and get Britain building the 300,000 homes a year it needs. If developers won’t build the homes we need, then we will – and we will launch a new model of home ownership called “Rent to Own”, which will help working people who have decent jobs but no deposit to get on the housing ladder.

Theresa May and Nigel Farage have put our country on a perilous path, towards a bad Brexit deal and weaker public services. This election is your chance, your choice, to change the country’s direction. Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to keeping Britain in the single market. We believe the British people should have the final say on the Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the EU. 

Only the Liberal Democrats offer a credible alternative. Together, we can give schools the funding they need to offer our children the best start in life. Together, we can rescue the NHS from crisis and ensure everyone gets the best possible care. Together, we can change Britain’s future.