The Lib Dems are ready to raise taxes to save the NHS, Tim Farron is set to tell the party’s conference.
The party leader is also set to lay much of the blame for Brexit on George Osborne’s threatened “punishment Budget” during the bitter EU referendum campaign.
Farron will also use his key-note address to party delegates to call for the abolition of primary SATS tests.
The Lib Dem leader will recall his own experiences battling for a better home for his Alzheimer’s-suffering grandfather to demand better-funded health resources and a merger of NHS and care services.
“If the only way to fund a health service that meets the needs of everyone is to raise taxes, Liberal Democrats will raise taxes,” Farron will say.
“For years, politicians have chosen to paper over the cracks rather than come clean about what it will really take – what it will really cost – not just to keep the NHS afloat, but to give people the care and the treatment that they deserve.
“And that means, finally, bringing the NHS and the social care system together.
“In my grandpa’s journey through Alzheimer’s, he had good care in the home he spent his last couple of years in. But when he first became ill after the death of my grandma, the place he was put in was despicable.
“Lonely, unclean, uncaring. It’s a few years back, but as I fought to get him out of that place and into somewhere better, it occurred to me that this was a standard experience for too many older people and their loved ones.
“And if some people can just shrug and accept this, well, I can’t. It’s not civilised to let people slip through the net.”
But Labour shadow cabinet minister John Ashworth attacked Farron for making “worthless” promises”.
“Tim Farron may think it makes a nice slogan to say the Lib Dems are an ‘alternative’ to the Tories and that they will look after the NHS, but it’s nonsense. They said the same before 2010 only to do the exact opposite, entering government with the Tories, backing them all the way and helping them run down the health service,” he said.
“The Lib Dems’ promises are worthless. They said they’d scrap tuition fees and then trebled them; vowed not to increase VAT and then did just that; and promised fairer taxes before giving millionaires a tax break at everyone else’s expense.
“You can’t trust the Liberal Democrats. They broke their promises and backed the Tories all the way.”
Farron is also demanding Theresa May explain what Brexit really means as he calls for a second referendum on the terms of withdrawal.
“Theresa May did so little in the Remain campaign that she actually made it look like Jeremy Corbyn pulled a shift.
“You’ve had three months. You are the Prime Minister. Act like a Prime Minister. What is your plan?”
he Lib Dem leader is also set to warn against expanding grammar schools as he calls for the abolition of primary SATS.
“I want to end the current system of SATS in primary schools that are a distraction from the real education that professional teachers want to give their children; that weigh heavy on children as young as six and add nothing to the breadth of their learning.
“And what are we doing, in 2016, threatening to relegate 80% of our children to education’s second division by returning to the 11-plus?” he will say.