“IT’S difficult to get away from the lense of Brexit,” says Dr Bruce Horton, the Liberal Democrat Party candidate for Redditch in the General Election of December 12.
“We’ve had nine years of austerity, three and a half years of Brexit chaos, increasing poverty, reduced funding for health and education, rising homelessness and people turning to food banks, and all this time the Conservatives have been giving some nice tax breaks to the richest.
“There’s a feeling of uncertainty, job insecurity, the high streets are full of empty shops, transport’s not getting any better and we have health services moving out of Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital down to Worcester.”
But he said his party’s investment programme, plus a penny on income tax ring fenced for health services, would address such pressing issues.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge but just from staying in the EU alone would see investment increase by £50million a year according to the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies,” he said.
He added the the Lib Dems would invest in local services and abolish business rates to help the high street recover.
The Lib Dems have famously declared they would stop Brexit if they formed a majority government but would back a second referendum if the opportunity presented itself.
Redditch of course voted to leave the EU in 2016 with the oft touted figure of 62 per cent in favour of getting out.
Dr Horton says: “I’m not sure 62 per cent voted for this mess and many of the people I have spoken to have changed their minds.
“People didn’t vote to be worse off, for more insecurity around their jobs and income so we need to give people the opportunity and to ask them – are you really sure this is what you want?
“Have you changed your mind? This is what we are offering.”
Dr Horton has a background in economics and the Liberal Democrats would oversee a ‘significant UK-wide investment programme’.
“One thing you do not do when the economy is stalling is to cut back and go for austerity,” he said.
“We need to invest and that is what the Liberal Democrats will do.”
Declaring the General Election in Redditch ‘too close to call’ he speaks of his confidence in the local Lib Dem team.
“We’ve seen a big increase in membership locally, both because of the referendum and the appointment of Jo Swinson as leader, and there is tremendous enthusiasm and commitment from the local party,” he said.
“More people are backing us because of our values, to stop Brexit, to re-invest in this country, in health and transport, to help the environment and to give people a choice.
“There are a lot of disillusioned voters out there on both sides, there is so much uncertainty on both sides, but we are offering a clear way forward.”