A GENERAL election has been called to "break the Brexit deadlock". Local Democracy Reporter JOSEPH TIMAN speaks to candidates about their views on leaving the EU.

BREXIT has been the standout issue at this general election.

Each party contesting constituencies in Bolton has a different policy on leaving the EU.

The Conservatives, who are defending a swing seat, have promised that the deal negotiated by Boris Johnson would bring us out of the EU by January.

Labour, who currently hold two seats in Bolton, want to negotiate a new deal and put it to a legally-binding referendum alongside the option of remaining.

But after formally leaving and entering a transition period, the next government would have to start negotiations on a future trade agreement too.

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The Brexit Party, which has two candidates in Bolton, fear that the UK will not get a "clean break" from the EU during this process.

The Lib Dems want to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50 and the Greens want a People's Vote. Here's what the candidates said.

Conservatives: Prime Minister's deal

The Bolton News:

THE Conservatives say their priority is to "Get Brexit Done" by putting the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister through parliament before Christmas and leaving the EU in January.

The Tories promise this deal will keep the UK out of the single market, out of any form of customs union and end the role of the European Court of Justice.

All three Bolton candidates back Boris's deal, preferring it to the one negotiated by Theresa May which included the Northern Ireland backstop.

But after leaving, the Tories, who say they would not extend the transition period, would still need to negotiate a trade agreement by December 2020.

Chris Green, the Bolton West candidate, explained what kind of deal he would favour. He said: “I want to see minimal barriers, minimal regulations. I don’t want to see the imposition of tariffs. I believe in free trade across the world. So in many ways, we can keep the good qualities of the common market that we joined in 1973 but also be free to regulate in a better way that the EU.”

Mark Logan, the Bolton North East candidate, recognised the importance of having a good political and security relationship with European countries but said that he is "excited" about the trade opportunities that leaving the European Union could create.

He said: “I definitely don’t view Brexit and leaving the EU as closing up to the world. I see it as us wanting to be even more open to the world."

Johno Lee, the Bolton South East candidate, admitted that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, which he said is "never off the table", creates uncertainty – but he firmly believes that this will not happen.

He said: “I accept that there are certain unknowns, but the people have had their say and as a government, all we can do is do our best for the country to make sure we have the best deal."

Labour: Renegotiate and have a referendum

The Bolton News:

THE Labour manifesto promises to rip up the “deeply flawed” deal negotiated by Boris Johnson and secure a new one within three months.

It would seek a UK-wide customs union, close alignment with the single market and the protection of workers’ rights while avoiding a hard border with Ireland.

The revised deal would then be put to a legally-binding referendum after six months in power alongside the option of remaining in the EU.

Yasmin Qureshi, the Bolton South East candidate, believes a better deal is possible under Labour because the party has had a "warmer dialogue" with the EU since the start.

She said: “I think that we will get a better deal because right from the beginning the Labour Party has been much more diplomatic in its approach and its dealing with Europe."

Ms Qureshi is "fully on board" with Labour's policy on Brexit and defended the party leader's stance. Jeremy Corbyn has said that, as Prime Minister, he would remain neutral in a referendum.

Labour candidates in Bolton said they would wait to see what is in the deal before deciding which side they would support.

Julie Hilling, the Bolton West candidate, said she is more likely to campaign to remain in the EU unless Labour secures a "fantastic" deal.

She said: “If the deal is better than the current deal in the EU, then I would support a new deal. If it isn’t, I will campaign to remain. In truth, I can’t see us getting a better deal [than remaining in the EU].”

Ms Qureshi said supporting a deal is not out of the question for her, but she ruled out leaving the EU without a deal.

Sir David Crausby, the Bolton North East candidate has expressed his support for another referendum in the past, but he said that he hopes this would be the last one.

He said: “Simplistic questions are not the way to deal with a complicated issue like Brexit. There’s nothing wrong with such a complex issue to have a series of questions.”

However, he criticised the last Labour government for introducing free movement too quickly. Sir David, who has represented Bolton North East as an MP since 1997, said that European workers in areas with high levels of unemployment was “bound to upset people”.

He said: "I don’t think we took into consideration the effect that it would have on communities – parts of the country that weren’t very prosperous. Free movement of labour has a completely different effect on London than it has on Sunderland. But Bolton has probably not suffered as bad."

Ms Hilling said trade unions can mitigate some of these issues. She said: "We need to make sure that migrants aren't able to undercut people who are already here."

Liberal Democrats: Revoke and Remain

The Bolton News:

THE Liberal Democrats would revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU if they formed a majority government.

But the party's candidates in Bolton recognise that this result is unrealistic.

They all say that it is more likely that Lib Dem MPs would argue for another referendum and campaign to remain.

Warren Fox, the Bolton North East candidate, explained why.

He said: “If we can’t stop it by revoking it, it should go back to a People’s Vote. I know that’s not going to please everybody. But no one can agree what Brexit actually means. Corbyn is saying one thing and Johnson is saying another. Ultimately it should go back to the people with the option to remain."

Two candidates standing in the borough agreed that the options on the ballot should be staying in the EU or leaving with the Prime Minister's deal.

Kevin Walsh, the Bolton South East candidate, does not believe that Labour would be able to negotiate another deal.

He said: “I don’t agree that there’s another deal to be had. Any deal which comes back will just be a rebranded, rehashed Theresa May deal. They're not miraculously going to get us in the single market without freedom of movement.”

Voters in the constituency voted by 63 per cent for Brexit in 2016. But Mr Walsh thinks they might change their minds at another referendum.

He said: “Bolton South East has one of the highest rates of poverty in the UK. Brexit is just going to exacerbate that. Everyone agrees that at least the next five years, if not longer, it will make us poorer. It's not the rich that are going to bear the brunt of Brexit. Why would people want to put themselves deeper into poverty?"

Rebecca Forrest, the Bolton West candidate, would support putting any deal on the ballot of a referendum but ruled out leaving without a deal. She said: "No deal would be so devastating for our country."

Green Party, A 'People's Vote'

The Bolton News:

THE Green Party wants to remain in the EU but supports a People’s Vote.

The “proudly pro-European” party’s manifesto pledges to “unequivocally” campaign for the UK to Remain. It promises to “champion” the right to a final say on the terms of any Brexit deal through a referendum with Remain as an option.

David Figgins, the Bolton South East candidate, explained why.

He said: “There needs to be a break in the deadlock with the way that Brexit stands. Parliament’s at a standstill – that’s why we’ve had this election. The whole country is at a deadlock at the moment and the only way to break that is a People’s Vote.”

But candidates in Bolton were split on which options should feature on the ballot.

Mr Figgins said there should be an option to Leave, probably with the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister, or to Remain – but he ruled out no-deal as an option.

However, whatever the result, he could not fully endorse leaving the EU because he believes any form of Brexit would be damaging.

Paris Hayes, the Bolton West candidate, would rather not include no-deal as an option on a People’s Vote but would consider putting it alongside a “credible” deal and Remain in a preferential voting system.

He said having deals on the ballot which have not yet been negotiated is “very dangerous”.

Although he described the Lib Dem policy to immediately revoke Article 50 as “arrogant”, he admitted that he could never support any form of Brexit himself.

He said: “I don’t think there is a deal I could support. I think Remain is the best deal we’ve got and it’s the best deal we’re going to get.”

Liz Spencer, the Bolton North East candidate, proposed a two-part question which would ask whether voters want to Leave or Remain and then list options for the terms of departure including a no-deal Brexit.

She said that no outcome should be ruled out. She said: “The Green Party’s policy is to do politics collaboratively. To categorically say absolutely no to anything would really be uncollaborative.

"To categorically rule some things out, having said we’re in favour of a People’s Vote, but later say, ‘we’re not doing this, we’re not doing that,’ really is counterproductive.”

Brexit Party: A 'Clean Break'

The Bolton News:

THE Brexit Party says its priority is to leave the EU with a clean break.

Cllr Mark Cunningham, the Bolton South East candidate, explained what this means to him.

He said: “A clean-break Brexit means you immediately severe ties with all EU institutions as they stand. That gives you, from day one, the opportunity to control your own fisheries, your own defence, in fact all of your other policies, your foreign trade policy, without being dictated by them how to do it.”

Party leader Nigel Farage agreed to stand down all candidates in the 317 constituencies which the Conservatives won in 2017.

The two candidates standing for the party in Bolton have said that, in the event of a Conservative majority, they would hold the Tories’ “feet to the fire”.

Cllr Cunningham said that Brexit Party MPs would back Boris Johnson and “boost his majority” as long as he delivers on the promises he is making.

But Trevor Jones, the Bolton North East candidate, does not support the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister.

He said: “I don’t think Boris is going to deliver a proper Brexit. It’s not what I want. It’s not what I voted for.”

Mr Jones would rather “start afresh”, refuse to pay the £39bn divorce settlement bill and agree a new trade deal with the EU.

And he is confident that a deal would be struck swiftly if the UK left the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

He said: “Honestly, they’ll get this agreement in their hands and sign it in a matter of days. If they want to sell their stuff to us, and they do, they will get this agreement done in a matter of days. Trust me.”

Cllr Cunningham said the deal that Mr Johnson currently has is “Brexit in name only”.

He said: “The current deal that is on the table is not a deal. It’s Mrs May’s treaty with a little fudge on Northern Ireland.

“It will not, in itself, deliver or give us the benefits that we need. It will tie us to the EU institutions with years and years to come with much more negotiation and the distinct possibility that we could lose Brexit all together.”