- Greater Manchester's top Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to protect the student exchange programme.
- Mayoral candidate Jane Brophy: "I will fight against this brutal Brexit agenda every single step of the way."
- Former MP John Leech: "We are about to rob a whole generation of its best opportunities."
Opportunities for young people in Greater Manchester to study and train abroad must be protected during the Brexit negotiations, former MP John Leech and mayoral candidate Jane Brophy have said, on the 30th anniversary of the EU’s Erasmus programme.
The exchange scheme has benefited more than 9,000 students and apprentices in the region since 2007.
12,373 were expected to benefit in the new and expanded programme in the coming years, enjoying everything from grants to cover tuition, travel and living costs.
Former south Manchester MP John Leech said: “Thousands of students and apprentices in Greater Manchester have benefited from Erasmus, giving them the chance to learn a new language, discover a new culture and make lifelong friends abroad.
“Young people across the country and here in Manchester voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, especially south Manchester which voted nearly 80 percent to Remain.
"We are about to rob a whole generation of such a wonderful and unique opportunity to study or train abroad for the sake of an ill-considered and aggressive Brexit agenda, and the Government must fight to defend the UK’s participation in Erasmus in the negotiations ahead.
"Failing to do so would be a betrayal of the thousands of young people in Greater Manchester who were set to benefit from the exchange programme in the coming years."
Over 10,000 people have backed a petition launched by the Liberal Democrats calling on the Government to protect participation in Erasmus in the Brexit negotiations.
Jane Brophy, the Liberal Democrats candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester has pledged to fight against the government's "brutal Brexit agenda", saying she will fight for a second referendum on the negotiated deal, with Remain on the ballot paper.
Brexit secretary David Davis confirmed the region’s new mayor will have a seat at the negotiating table to discuss their priorities for any future deal struck by the government.
Jane Brophy said: "The question in this mayoral election is about who local residents want at that Brexit table fighting for Greater Manchester's best interests and our place in Europe. It is only the Liberal Democrats who will de-rail Brexit and I am the only candidate fighting for the closest possible relationship with the EU.
"The Liberal Democrats are clear, we want a vote in the form of a referendum on the final Brexit deal, with Remain on the ballot paper.
"We are hurtling towards a hard Brexit which will have an enormous and detrimental impact on Greater Manchester, and I will fight against it every single step of the way."