While it is Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn’s policies and numerous predicaments that have dominated the media space during the last few weeks, it is important to remember that this General Election is not technically a two-horse race. The smaller parties will be wanting to make a statement this winter and ensure they improve the perception of their party in the relatively short time they have in the public eye.
And so, after the head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Green Party leader Sian Berry had the opportunity to set out their own electoral offers in one-on-one interviews with ITV’s Nina Hossain. Below are the summaries of their arguments:
The Liberal Democrats
Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats have run a presidential-style campaign with her personal character front and centre of their election push. During the interview, she repeated her promise to stop Brexit and insisted that a Liberal Democrat government would revoke Article 50 ‘on Day 1’. She claimed that this would be straightforward process, consisting of a simple letter, or potentially, an email.
Ms Swinson also repeated her pledge not cooperate with either of the two leaders, saying she believed that ‘our country deserves better than either of them.’
On the NHS, Ms Swinson pledged to deal with the NHS staff shortage by improving the status of care workers, to encourage more people to pursue this career path.
Finally, when asked a quick-fire question on whether she would ever use a nuclear weapon, she replied simply: ‘Yes.’
As expected, Scottish Independence was at the heart of the Nicola Sturgeon’s answers. She made clear that she would not support Boris Johnson, but admitted she would look at issues the SNP wants to pursue if Labour are in a position to form a minority Government. She did rule out a coalition, but said she was open to a “more informal arrangement” – under the condition of an approval for another Scottish independence referendum in 2020.
She insisted that she would press ahead with Scottish independence referendum even if Brexit is cancelled, despite having used UK leaving the EU as the main driver for another independence referendum in the past.
When asked during quick-fire questioning about a hard border between Scotland and England, she said that it was not her policy or objective.
The Brexit Party
The ever-present Nigel Farage happily found himself once again in the media spotlight and wasted no time getting stuck into both of the main party leaders, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. He claimed that he did not regret the decision of not standing as an MP and dismissed suggestions that his decision to stand down candidates in Tory-held seats had anything to do with Donald Trump.
When asked a quick-fire question on the abolishment of the House of Lords, he claimed that it had no place in the 21st century. He did, however, continue to insist that he had been ‘bribed with becoming a Peer’.
He criticised the current levels of foreign aid and insisted that “trade, not aid” was the way forward. On the matter of climate change, he argued that the UK should start a global initiative with the United Nations, to plant trees on a “massive scale”.
He argued for a written constitution that outlines any referendum as legally binding and stressed that the outcomes of both, the EU referendum in 2016 and the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, needed to be implemented. He outlined leaving the EU in 2020 as a priority.
The Green Party
Party co-leader Sian Berry stressed that climate crisis needed to be solved in the next few years and claimed that the Green Party are the only party to recognise this. She said it was ‘outrageous’ that Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn didn’t bring up the climate emergency alongside Brexit during the debate, and outlined her belief that spending £100 billion per year over the next decade would help the country become carbon-neutral by 2030. In practical terms, the money would be spent on energy-efficient homes and transport to aid greener living.
During quick-fire questioning, she was asked whether it is justified for climate protesters to stop people going to work on public transport. Whilst admitting that she did not agree with all of their tactics, she said that Extinction Rebellion do a fantastic job.