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Labour asks if Lib Dems will reverse tuition fee damage

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By Joe Gammie, PA

Labour has asked the Lib Dems to confirm if the party will commit to “reversing the damage” it caused by trebling university tuition fees while part of the coalition government.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has written to the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson accusing her party of not only “alienating young people from politics” but saddling aspiring students with “crippling debt” after the party U-turned on a 2010 election pledge not to increase the charges when it went into coalition with the Tories.

In the letter, published on Friday, Ms Rayner said Labour’s pledge to scrap tuition fees would be paid for by asking corporations and high earners to contribute more.

She called on the Lib Dem to confirm if the party will reverse the damage it and the Conservatives inflicted upon students.

She added: “You and your party have been silent on your tuition fees policies.

“The Liberal Democrats betrayed students by supporting the trebling of tuition fees when in coalition with the Conservatives, despite promising to abolish student loans in your 2010 manifesto.

“This U-turn, which you voted for, not only alienated many young people from politics but has also saddled aspiring students with crippling debt at the start of their careers.

“I’m sure you will agree that young people have a right to the information they need to decide if the Liberal Democrats can be trusted with their future.

“So will you instruct your Treasury spokesperson, Ed Davey, to confirm tomorrow if you will commit to reversing the damage that Liberal Democrat and Conservative governments have inflicted upon students?”

The letter comes after senior Lib Dem Sam Gyimah said on Monday that the idea of zero university tuition fees was a “fantasy”.

The party’s business spokesman insisted such a move would “ration” places.

Mr Gyimah, who served as a Tory universities minister before defecting to the Lib Dems over Brexit, said during a campaign visit: “The idea that you can have zero tuition fees is a fantasy.”

PA

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