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Thursday May 18, 2017

Liberal Democrats promise new Brexit vote if elected

Liberal Democrats promise new Brexit vote if elected
Tim Farron, leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat Party, speaks to members of the Royal College of Nursing in Liverpool, May 15, 2017.

Britain's Liberal Democrat Party, trailing significantly behind Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives and the opposition Labour party, vowed on Wednesday to hold a second referendum on a final Brexit deal if it wins next month's election.

Launching his party's proposals for the June 8 election, Liberal Democratic leader Tim Farron said they would give Britons a say on the divorce deal struck with the European Union after two years of talks, saying a bad agreement would wreck Britain's future.

"You should have your say on the Brexit deal in a referendum," Farron said. "And if you don't like the deal you should be able to reject it and choose to remain in Europe."

May has vowed to press ahead with Brexit, saying she was prepared to take Britain out of the EU even if no deal with the bloc could be struck, while Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the issue has been settled.

Read more: Tony Blair announces return to British politics to fight Brexit

The Liberal Democrats are hopeful that their pro-EU stance will attract support from the 48 percent of Britons who backed remaining in the bloc in last year's referendum, although opinion polls suggest the message has not won over many people from the two major parties who opposed Brexit.

Surveys put support for the Liberal Democrats on about 10 percent, some way behind May's Conservative Party which polls indicate is attracting support from more than 45 percent of Britons with Labour on about 30 percent.

Liberal Democrats support nationally has collapsed since the 2010 election when the party won 23 percent of the vote, propelling it into a coalition government with former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

Read more: UK super-rich got richer despite Brexit: rich list

But five years later voters abandoned the party as it bore the brunt of public anger over unpopular austerity measures and the Liberal Democrats lost all but eight of the 57 seats they held in the 650-seat parliament.

Among the other major policies advocated by the Liberal Democrats are an extra 1 pence on income tax rates to raise 6 billion pounds ($7.8 billion) to spend on the state-run National Health Service and a plan for a 100 billion pound infrastructure investment to help build 300,000 homes a year and improve road and rail links.

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