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May's chief of staff asks Lib Dems to help pass key laws

May's chief of staff asks Lib Dems to help pass key laws

John Ashmore

2 min read

Theresa May's top aide has been in touch with the Liberal Democrats to ask for help in passing parts of the Government's legislative agenda.

The Times reports that Number 10 chief of staff Gavin Barwell has contacted his opposite number Ben Williams and spoken to a prominent Lib Dem MP about working together.

The former coalition parties could join forces on areas where they agree, such as boosting treatment for mental health patients on the NHS. 

The Lib Dems also claim the Conservatives could use their MPs' votes to help push up taxes in order to boost health spending - though the Tories deny this is the case.

A key part of Tim Farron's recent election manifesto was to raise income tax by 1p in the pound to fund a £6bn NHS spending increase.

A Tory source said: "As we have been saying since the Queen’s Speech, we are happy to work across the House to drive forward the changes our country needs.” 

A Lib Dem insider said of the meeting with Mr Barwell:  “Gavin said that there were possibilities for joint working on areas of the Queen’s Speech. He mentioned mental health. Where we agree I imagine we’re open to discussion.

“Our manifesto suggests we need to raise tax to pay for the NHS and we’re clear we think there should be a cross-party funding agreement on the NHS. If Theresa May’s team want to reach out on a cross-party basis we are all ears.”

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