Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ed Davey says Lib Dems would fight for UK to rejoin EU and one day overturn Brexit

Must read

Sir Ed Davey has promised to push for Britain to rejoin the European single market and eventually the EU.

The Liberal Democrat leader said fixing the UK’s broken relationship with Europe will drive down prices in shops and widen opportunities for young people to work throughout the bloc.

Launching his party’s general election manifesto, Sir Ed said Britain “needs to be back at the heart of Europe” and stressed the Lib Dems “are a pro-European party”.

But he accused the Conservatives of having “poisoned Britain’s relationship with our nearest neighbours” and “undermined trust in the UK”.

“We are being really clear that it is not going to be easy,” the seasoned Lib Dem said.

Follow our live coverage of the general election campaign here

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey stressed his party has ‘put health and care at the heart’ of its manifesto, but the document also includes the aim to ‘fix the UK’s broken relationship with Europe’
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey stressed his party has ‘put health and care at the heart’ of its manifesto, but the document also includes the aim to ‘fix the UK’s broken relationship with Europe’ (PA Wire)

And, just five years after Jo Swinson led the party’s disastrous 2019 general election campaign on a platform of stopping Brexit, Sir Ed has taken a markedly more moderate stance on Europe.

But, in an election in which former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine has slammed the major parties’ refusal to debate the consequences of Brexit, Sir Ed is hoping to win the support of millions of voters who want closer ties with Europe.

The party’s manifesto states: “Once ties of trust and friendship have been renewed, and the damage the Conservatives have caused to trade between the UK and EU has begun to be repaired, we would aim to place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the single market.”

It described this and other steps as key “on the road to EU membership, which remains our long-term objective”.

Asked about the pledge on Monday, Sir Ed said: “You have to have a step-by-step approach to rebuild that relationship, but I believe quite quickly you get a much better trade deal than the dreadful deal that [Boris] Johnson got.

Sir Ed falls into the water while paddleboarding on Lake Windermere, while on the general election campaign trail
Sir Ed falls into the water while paddleboarding on Lake Windermere, while on the general election campaign trail (PA Wire)

“That would help our economy, small business exporters, our farmers and fishermen … it would reduce prices in the shop.

“Getting a really good trade deal would be the absolute priority, then letting our young people be more mobile across Europe.”

Also in the party’s manifesto was an eye-catching pledge to set up US-style legal cannabis shops in a bid to combat the harms caused by dangerous “skunk” currently sold by gangs to young people.

The Lib Dems said they would introduce a legal, regulated weed market with licensed retailers selling the drug to over-18s.

The wide-ranging document also contained measures on the economy, environment, health and social care, political reform and housing.

Unveiling the document, Sir Ed said the policy offering amounted to a fair deal for people across the UK.

“At this election, every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to make it happen,” he added.

On the economy, the Lib Dems are targeting former Tory voters in the so-called blue wall of safe Tory seats. The party is promising “careful economic management” to bring mortgage rates under control after the turmoil of Liz Truss’s mini-Budget.

It has also promised to “end the sewage scandal” by banning bonuses for water bosses until discharges and leaks end and setting up a powerful new water regulator to replace Ofwat.

Speaking about his own experience caring for his mother who died of cancer when he was a teenager and now looking after his disabled son, Sir Ed promised to fight for a higher minimum wage, particularly for care workers.

He further outlined plans to give unpaid carers a right to paid carers’ leave from work and a statutory guarantee of regular respite breaks.

The Lib Dems restated their ambition to introduce a form of proportional representation for parliamentary elections, via the single transferable vote method.

Sir Ed enjoys a bike ride down a hill during a visit to Knighton in Wales
Sir Ed enjoys a bike ride down a hill during a visit to Knighton in Wales (PA Wire)

And in another of the more eye-catching measures, aimed at tackling the housing crisis, the Lib Dems said they would support building 10 new garden cities as part of plans to build 380,000 new homes a year in the UK.

Concluding his pitch to voters, Sir Ed said: “A fair deal where everyone can afford a decent home somewhere safe and clean – with a comfortable retirement when the time comes.

“Where every child can go to a good school and have real opportunities to fulfil their potential.

“Where everyone can get the high-quality healthcare they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“That is the fair deal that runs throughout our manifesto. That is the fair deal the Liberal Democrats are fighting for.”

Latest article