Just in time for conference season, Keir Starmer has – finally – revealed how he would “make Brexit work”.
This week, the Labour leader said he would seek a “much better” Brexit deal with the EU if his party wins the next general election. However, research from the UK in a Changing Europe then suggested that there is very little appetite for this renegotiation within the EU, suggesting that things might not be as straightforward as Starmer hopes. But at least he is now happy to discuss the B-word.
So surely Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey would be more than obliged to join in… right? Evidently not.
His party’s conference opens this weekend, but instead of appealing to the Rejoiners that Labour continues to snub, Davey has announced that an immediate return to the EU is “currently off the table”. The Lib Dem conference, which begins this weekend, will focus on other issues such as housing and the economy.
According to Davey voters just “aren’t talking about Europe”. This may be the case on doorsteps, but with recent polling showing 58% would vote to rejoin the bloc, the conversation is clearly occurring elsewhere and Davey wants no part in it. Perhaps he is just spooked by the knowledge that fighting the last election under the “stop Brexit” stance arguably cost then-party leader Jo Swinson her seat in 2019.
Responding to Davey’s comments, Mike Galsworthy, chair of European Movement UK, said: “Now that Labour are making moves to rebuild with Europe, you would have expected the Liberal Democrats, by their strong pro-European traditions, to be well ahead of them in ambition.
He also added: “If the party’s leadership is not willing to take up that mantle, then the Lib Dem base that wants to see EU membership championed right now should be joining the European Movement UK. We are making the case for the UK to join the EU as full members, and we’re making that case openly and confidently already.”