By Inês Linhares Dias.

Tonight’s vote will shape how Britain approaches the Brexit negotiations.

Although frequently overshadowed in this election, Brexit is the single most important issue facing Britain today. So what did each of the parties pledge on Brexit?

Theresa May has said that she is committed to guide the country out of the EU and to get the right deal, even though she seems to be oblivious to the fact that the deal has to be approved by all 27 member states and it will never be a good deal to Britain.

Prime minister, Theresa May, has said that: “First our country needs strong proven leadership to steer us through this time of economic and political uncertainty and negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the EU and forge a new role for ourselves in the world. Because Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it”.

But the European Union needs to make an example out of this process and, therefore, there is no possible way that the final deal will be beneficial for Britain, as that would set a precedent for other countries, who are not entirely happy with the Union to leave.

Labour also guarantees that under its government Britain would leave the EU, however the guidelines for how it would conduct the process are equally vague.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn explained his vision for the Brexit talks: “Labour will start negotiations by setting a new tone. We will confirm to the other nations that Britain is leaving the European Union. That issue is not in doubt. But instead of posturing in pumped up animosity, a Labour government under my leadership will set out a plan for Brexit based on the mutual interests of both Britain and the European Union”.

Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, has already made clear that the party will not back any deal that leaves Britain in worse economic terms than if it had remained in the EU.

Starmer is holding Brexit secretary David Davis’ accountable for a statement he made in parliament in January saying that the deal agreed between May and the 27 member states would guarantee the “exact same benefits” as the UK enjoys being a part of the single market.

The only party which is actually offering an alternative on the Brexit issue is the Liberal Democrats- Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is promising a referendum on the Brexit deal: “At the heart of our manifesto is an offer to all of the people in our country that know what the party is making, and that is that we don’t just have to accept whatever deal we get back from the Brexit negotiations, but the British people – you – should have the final say. And if you don’t like what Theresa May comes back with, you should have the right to vote to remain.”

The irony is that probably the election which will most affect the Brexit negotiations isn’t the one that has just taken place in the UK – but the German elections in the autumn. It is only then that the real tough talking will begin.

The Lib Dems strategy of appealing to the remainers is not paying off, since, according to YouGov polls, 68% of the electorate believes that Britain should leave the European Union. Besides the 52% that voted Leave on the referendum, there is now a group of people that has been dubbed re-leavers that consists of people who voted remain, but feel that the result of the referendum should be respected and, as such, Brexit should go ahead. For these people, the solution is often a vote for Labour, since Corbyn has pledged to lead the country out of the EU, whilst keeping the UK in the single market and customs union, and securing the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.

Although there is still great uncertainty regarding this issue, and the guidelines for how Brexit talks should be conducted are still very vague, it is important to look at what each party specifically claims to do on the Brexit issue.

Conservative:

  • Leave the single market and customs union, but maintaining a “deep and special partnership” with the European Union.
  • Guaranteeing a “smooth and orderly Brexit” though upholding “no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK”-
  • Establishing a “fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations”
  • Approve a Great Repeal Bill to transform EU law into UK law

Labour:

  • Re-determine the negotiating priorities established in the Brexit white paper, prioritizing “the single market and customs union”.
  • Guarantee rights of EU citizens living in Britain.
  • Replace the “Great Repeal Bill” with an EU rights and protections bill that will ensure no change to worker’s rights or environmental protections.
  • Dismiss the “no deal” option

Liberal Democrats:

  • Hold a referendum on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
  • Remain in the single market and customs union.
  • Maintain freedom of movement.

By Jake Nichol

The Liberal Democrats centred their election campaign around the biggest question of our times, Brexit.

But it did not precipitate the breakthrough they had desired.

The night proved mixed, with former leader, Nick Clegg losing his seat yet Vince Cable, former Business secretary and current leader, Tim Farron,

The party’s main promise, which garnered most media attention, was to hold a referendum on the Brexit deal, which is negotiated 11 days after the election.

The party wish to give the people the final decision to either accept what is put to them, or to reject and stay in the European Union.

As for immigration, it has been making the case that immigration can be a force for good, and that migrants should not be blamed for the strain on Public Services.

It has vowed to re-establish the ‘Dubs’ scheme, and bring unaccompanied child refugees to Britain to be resettled.

This puts the party at odds with every other party, who have all pledged to leave, come what March.

Farron has been aiming to try and rebuild the party following its 2015 demolishment, especially in the South-West, where the Conservatives focused their campaign, and wiped their, at the time, coalition partners out.

He has been trying to appeal to Conservative and Labour voters who voted Remain as the only option to maintain the Union, and stay in Europe.

Polls have had the party hovering around the 10% mark, which is about what they got in the last election, when they got eight seats.

The second biggest campaign theme has been the state of the NHS and Social Care, which the Tories have decimated. It proposes to add 1p to income tax to help pay for Healthcare overall, although that is quite a minimal amount.

For far too long, Mental Health has not been given parity of esteem compared to Physical Health and the party pledge to bring into line both sets of waiting times.

Elsewhere, they propose to kick-start infrastructure spending by investing £100 billion, and unlike the Tories, it is fully costed.

In 2015, the u-turn on Tuition fees made in Coalition, hurt the party, and this round, they want to reinstate the maintenance grant for the poorest students, as well as a £7 billion investment in the school budgets.

As for taxation overall, the party wishes to undo much of the cuts to corporation tax, capital gains and maintain the triple lock for pensioners.

Housing has been a damaging area for the Tories, and the Lib Dems have pledged to build 300,000 affordable homes, and ensure that renters ensure that their properties are fit for habitation.

Climate -wise they aim to build at least 10 new ‘Garden Cities’ around the UK, and ensure that the country comes to meet its obligations.

Suspending Arms Deals to Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of Defence and Foreign Policy, as is sticking up to Trump, as well as only using the military as a last resort.

Overall, then the Liberal Democrats have run a campaign that you would expect. They have returned to core values and ideology, a truly centralist campaign.

Farron has put his foot in it a little too often for comfort, but anything better than the drubbing received in 2015 is a good result. If the party does the same as in the last election, or worse, it is only a matter of time before Tim Farron is replaced.