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Send Tories message on Brexit at local elections: Cable

By Jon Vale

May's local elections are a chance for the public to pass a verdict on the Government's handling of Brexit, Sir Vince Cable has said.

The Liberal Democrat leader also urged voters to send a message to the Conservatives over "ideological" and "unnecessary" cuts to public services. Launching his party's local elections campaign, the former Business Secretary added its performance in recent by-elections was a "well-kept secret" and suggested it was doing twice as well as the national polls suggested.

The Lib Dems have consistently polled in single figures since the turn of the year.

Former leader Sir Nick Clegg got 13% in the 2014 elections, while there has been speculation that Lib Dem-controlled Sutton council could be vulnerable.

Addressing party activists, Sir Vince said: "These are local elections, they are about getting good local representatives, but it's also going to be an opportunity to pass a verdict on the way in which the Government is handling the Brexit negotiations." May's poll will be the last opportunity many EU nationals will have to vote, he said, with the Lib Dems sending out election messages in 17 languages.

He went on to accuse the Government of "a form of capitulation" and caving in on almost all its Brexit negotiating positions.

It was already accepted that Brexit would mean a reduction in access to European markets, a loss of access for poorer parts of the UK to regional funding and reduced reciprocal rights for UK and EU citizens, he said.

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