Tim Farron has accused Theresa May of voluntarily putting a “time bomb” under the British economy with her plan to take the UK out of the single market.
The Lib Dems have put fighting a so-called hard Brexit at the heart of their election campaign and are pushing for a second referendum to be held on the eventual deal struck with Brussels.
It comes as Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has said Brexit talks will start hours after the general election result.
At the launch of the party’s manifesto in east London this evening, Farron will say the prime minister will “wreck our children’s future for decades to come” if she gets her way.
“There was nothing on the ballot paper last June that said we were choosing to pull out of the single market,” he will say. “The choices Theresa May will make will affect your life and our country for decades – your job, your weekly shop, your environment, your safety, where you can travel to and where you can live.”
In his speech, the Lib Dem leader will highlight his campaign encounter with an angry pro-Brexit voter, Malcolm, who shouted at him for wanting to hold a second referendum.
Farron will try to turn the fiery exchange into a positive. “I grew up in Preston in Lancashire. And most of the people in Preston voted to leave. There are parts of Lancashire where two-thirds of people voted to leave,” he will say.
“Friends of mine did. Members of my family did. They don’t all admit that to my face, but I know they did. Those people, they’re my people. I like them. They’re good people. Decent people. And, as it happens, I liked Malcolm too. Once he stopped shouting at me.”
He will add: “But here’s the difference between me and Theresa May – I want Malcolm, and everyone in Preston, and every single one of you, to have your say over what comes next.”
The Lib Dem manifesto, launched today, will include policies aimed the young.
The party say they will restore housing benefit to young people, bring in bus passes for 16-21 year olds with a two-thirds discount, and lower the voting age to 16 if they gain power.
And Farron has announced a flagship rent-to-own scheme would see monthly rents used like a mortgage with working tenants owning their own home over a 30-year period.
The party has also pledged to boost education spending by £7 billion over five years, double the number of businesses that take apprenticeships, and extend free school meals to all primary school pupils.
Patrick McLoughlin, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said the Lib Dem policy platform was “an echo of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto we saw earlier this week”.
“There’s only one way to be sure of the strong, stable leadership we need through Brexit and beyond – and that’s by voting for Theresa May and her Conservative team,” he said.