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General Election 2019: where do the parties stand on motoring?

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-11-15 12:00

With the UK electorate going to the polls on 12 December, we explain the policies each party has in store for motorists

A Parliamentary deadlock means the UK is holding its third General Election in the last five years, with Boris Johnson’s Conservatives facing off against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, while a number of smaller parties fight to have their voices heard.

There’s no doubt that Brexit is the main issue on the agenda but this is a General Election, not a referendum, so all matters of policy are up for debate, including those relating to motoring.

UK car production fell 3.8 per cent in September

As manifestos are released and policies announced in the run-up to polling day on 12 December, we’ll update this page with everything you need to know about what the parties have planned for drivers.

Conservative and Unionist Party

Leader: Boris Johnson
Slogan: “Get Brexit Done. Unleash Britain's Potential”
Manifesto: Not yet released

Conservative leader and incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson called this General Election in the hope of winning a majority in the House of Commons, enabling him to pass his new Brexit deal and lead the UK out of the EU. As such, this is mostly what he’s been talking about so far in the campaign.

Johnson has discussed some of his plans for post-Brexit Britain, though, having made a speech at the LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) factory in Coventry, where he talked about his proposed “green energy revolution”.

As part of this policy, Johnson promised that a future Conservative Government would invest an additional £500 million in fast-chargers for electric cars and vans, promising no driver will be more than 30 miles from an EV charger.

Labour Party

Leader: Jeremy Corbyn
Slogan: “It’s Time for Real Change”
Manifesto: Not yet released

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pulled some dramatic policy rabbits out of his hat at the last General Election and looks set to do the same this time around, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell having already announced plans for free superfast broadband in every home.

Although it has made no promises to drivers via the official channels, internal Labour party documents allegedly obtained by the Conservatives have revealed a few of the motoring-related policies Corbyn is said to be considering putting in his party’s manifesto.

According to these documents, Labour wants a 60 per cent reduction in vehicle mileage with a “large and rapid” shift away from car use, helping the party achieve its goal for the UK to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – 20 years earlier than the current Government’s target.

Other policies mentioned in the alleged document include increases to fuel duty, a road pricing scheme, a workplace parking levy, a reduction of motorway speed limits to below 70mph, and the cancellation of all new road-building schemes.

In response to the leaked documents, Conservative Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Corbyn is coming for your car and will exhume the last Labour Government’s war on the motorist.”

Liberal Democrats

Leader: Jo Swinson
Slogan: “Stop Brexit. Build a Brighter Future”
Manifesto: Not yet released

The Liberal Democrats’ leader Jo Swinson has tried to position her party as the obvious choice for those wanting to keep the UK inside the EU, with plans to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit without holding a second referendum.

Therefore, as with the Conservatives, Brexit is the key focus of the Lib Dems’ campaign, meaning most of their other policy ideas won’t be revealed until their manifesto is launched at some point later in the campaign.

One motoring policy the Lib Dems do have planned, though, is to bring the 2040 ban on the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars forward to 2030, as part of plans to expedite the UK’s move to net decarbonisation.

Scottish National Party

Leader: Nicola Sturgeon
Slogan: “It’s Time to Choose Our Own Future”
Manifesto: Not yet released

Another party with a clear anti-Brexit stance, the Scottish National Party wants to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence with the aim of pulling Scotland out of the UK and then applying for membership of the EU separately to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

With all this on its plate, the SNP hasn’t yet made any motoring-related policy pledges. Earlier this year, though, the party did make a budget agreement with the Greens in the Scottish Parliament, one of the conditions of which was the promise to allow councils in Scotland to implement workplace parking levies if they wished to do so.

The Brexit Party

Leader: Nigel Farage
Slogan: “Change Politics for Good”
Manifesto: Will not be released

The Brexit Party won the European Elections in May 2019 and has been gearing up to contest a General Election ever since. Recently, though, party leader Nigel Farage agreed to not to field any candidates in seats won by the Conservatives at the 2017 General Election. As a result, the Brexit Party is only contesting a relatively small number of seats across the UK.

If the 2019 General Election results in a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party, however, The Brexit Party could end up as the only group in the House of Commons willing to form a coalition with them.

Nigel Farage has already said the Brexit Party will not be releasing a manifesto. It has announced some transport-related policies, though – party chairman Richard Tice said they intend to scrap the HS2 rail project and instead use the money to “invest in the regions and in infrastructure projects which benefit areas other than London”. What this may mean for the motorist is as yet unknown.

Green Party of England and Wales

Co-leaders: Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry
Slogan: “Leading the Fight for Climate Action, a People's Vote, a Fair Society for All”

Manifesto: Not yet released

The Green Party’s main issue of concern is the environment and this is what guides the majority of its policies. Co-leaders Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry haven’t launched their party’s manifesto yet, but there is a transport policy page on their website that’s updated fairly frequently.

At present, this page includes plans to “reduce the number of journeys made by unsustainable modes of transport, particularly by car and aeroplane”. The Greens also want to reduce the environmental impact of all forms of transport, as well as improve their integration, ensuring there are “convenient interchanges for both passengers and freight”.

The Greens also want to see the UK hit its net-zero carbon target by 2030, which will likely mean more stringent policies on motoring that have yet to be announced.

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Plaid Cymru

Leader: Adam Price
Slogan: “Wales, It’s Us / Ni yw Cymru”

Manifesto: Not yet released

Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) advocates Welsh independence from the UK within the EU, in the same way the SNP does with Scotland. Earlier this year, Plaid expressed concerns that the UK was being left behind when it came to the adoption of EVs and the infrastructure to support them, calling on the Welsh Government to do more to get drivers into ultra-low emission vehicles.

Plaid has also complained in the past that Wales has been “short-changed” when it comes to transport infrastructure funding. In addition, it takes a mixed view on the building of new roads, having supported some projects while opposing others.

Democratic Unionist Party

Leader: Arlene Foster
Slogan: “Strength to Deliver”
Manifesto: Not yet released

Having propped up Theresa May’s Conservative minority Government via a confidence and supply deal in the wake of 2017’s unexpected General Election result, the Democratic Unionist Party fell out with her replacement Boris Johnson when they refused to back his new Brexit deal, which leader Arlene Foster felt wasn’t to the benefit of Northern Ireland.

On matters of transport, the DUP has previously supported investment in new road-building projects, as well as in improving public transport. While there should be more detail in the party’s manifesto, Foster’s key aims will no doubt be making the party’s voice heard in the ongoing Brexit debate and resolving the breakdown in the power-sharing arrangements at Stormont.

UK Independence Party

Leader: None
Slogan: “Time to Get on with Brexit!”
Manifesto: Not yet released

With leader Richard Braine having resigned right at the start of the 2019 General Election campaign, it’s fair to say the UK Independence Party is at a bit of a disadvantage. That said, it has announced it will contest a handful of seats on 12 December.

UKIP is another party that has a section on its website dedicated to transport policy. Here, the party says it wants to scrap all road tolls in the UK and block the introduction of any form of road pricing, arguing that “road users are already overtaxed and should not be paying twice to use our roads”.

Another one of UKIP’s motoring policies is to abandon the rollout of smart motorways altogether, and instead put the money towards fixing potholes. Additional parking fees and low-emission zone charges that are “discriminatory” towards owners of diesel vehicles would also be abandoned by the party. Finally, UKIP has pledged support for improving the UK’s EV charging infrastructure and developing autonomous vehicles.

Who do you want to win the General Election? Let us know why in the comments below…

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