Region’s voice must be heard on Brexit says Lib Dem Mayoral candidate

The Liberal Democrat candidate to be the first-ever elected West Midlands Mayor is set to officially launch her campaign.

Beverley Nielsen is expected to say that the region must have a voice in Brexit negotiations and be considered fairly by Westminster when it comes to funding issues.

“For far too long, the West Midlands has been sitting quietly at the back of the queue when successive governments decide which region to support – and that has to change,” she said.

“We’ve been told by government that the first Mayor must make £4bn of cuts, because that’s the size of the funding shortfall which the Tories want to impose upon us. It’s absurd, illogical and unfair, and I will refuse to accept that decision. We all need to change how government looks at this region.”

She said the region needed a strong voice and hers was the only party with a rational Brexit policy.

“Once the full exit proposals have been voted on in Parliament, there must be a second referendum so the public can vote on the facts not on the shameful propaganda which dominated last year’s referendum,” she said.

Ms Nielsen’s platform focuses on improving regional connectivity, incentivising young people to stay and work in the West Midlands through new grants for SMEs and start-ups, delivering affordable housing through a new region-wide development plan, and establishing a major innovation fund to stimulate links between education, business and entrepreneurs.

Ms Nielsen has spent the last decade at Birmingham City University, and is responsible for a raft of innovative partnerships bringing employers and students together to create employment and wealth.

“Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, with almost 45% of its population under 25, and that’s a human goldmine, but we aren’t doing enough to help the so-called Generation Z develop their talents and build satisfying careers,” she said.

“We have to ignore the politics of hate and look to the future, and particularly to our children’s future. We can’t afford, for their sake, to hurtle head-on into an era where everything which Europe has given us for the last 30 years is simply dismantled and thrown away.”

She said she would also give young people a helping hand by giving everyone under the age of 25 free travel on public transport across the West Midlands, while it was important all help was offered to SMEs to survive the current economic and political uncertainty.

“At the other end of the business scale, we must also fight to secure the livelihoods of workers at such global giants as Jaguar Land Rover, GKN and JCB, who depend on continued tariff-free access to the Single Market, ” she added.