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Ken Loach: ‘Mental health, schools, poverty, inequality and climate change are all bigger than Brexit’

FILM-MAKER Ken Loach insisted on Saturday that tackling Britain’s mental health crisis was more important than Brexit.

Mr Loach told the Mental Health Crisis Summit at the Royal Free Hospital in London that the issue “transcends Brexit.”

Mental health campaigners, patients and professionals came together to discuss the extent of the mental health crisis following years of Conservative austerity and privatisation policies.

Mr Loach highlighted two cases of people who had committed suicide after being failed by the benefit system and crushed under debt, including a gig-economy worker who had his motorbike taken away.

He warned that the privatisation of public services not only worsens them but also increases precarious work and affects workers’ mental health.

Mr Loach said progressive policies were needed to renew our social services and take the sector “back to its founding principles,” and to remove the causes that “generate the stress” people face when suffering with mental ill-health.

He said: “Who will get us over the line? Some will be tempted by the Liberals, but we know that they were completely complacent.

“[Lib Dem leader] Jo Swinson, who says she won’t work with Jeremy Corbyn, voted for the measures and is guilty up to her neck.”

Mr Loach said putting Labour in power was needed to deal with the Brexit that had been “flung at us.”

He said: “The issue of health, and our schools, poverty, inequality and climate change — the big existing problems have all arisen while within the European Union, they transcend Brexit and are more important.”

Mr Loach also urged campaigners to defend Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against a smear culture directed at him.

He said campaigners would continue to face “appalling” smears regarding Mr Corbyn and anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and must be prepared to answer and be ready against them.

“No-one else is putting forward a programme to deal with the issue of mental health,” he added.

“We have to aim high. We have to establish the principle of the common good, not private greed, and I believe that people will respond to that.

“Never mind Brexit, never mind false smears, this is what this country needs.”

Organising groups at the conference included Health Campaigns Together, Keep Our NHS Public and Mental Health — Time for Action.

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