THE Liberal Democrat leader has said his party is no longer interested in the UK rejoining the European Union.

Sir Ed Davey said the party remained “very pro-European” and wanted to see the closest possible relationship with the EU after Brexit.

However, he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show the LibDems are “not a rejoin party”.

At the 2019 general election, the Liberal Democrat manifesto said every vote for the party was “a vote to stop Brexit and stay in the European Union”.

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It said: “For over three years [we] have led the fight to stop Brexit. We campaigned to stay in the EU in 2016 and we unequivocally believe that the UK is stronger as part of the EU.”

Then leader Jo Swinson even suggested a LibDem win at the ballot box would see Brexit halted without a second referendum.

In Scotland, the SNP says it is committed to returning to Europe as an independent nation. 

Last week Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer confirmed he would not campaign to restore free movement as it would require extensive renegotiation of the Brexit treaty.

However Sir Ed said he believed the removal of free movement was “illiberal” and the case for its reintroduction should be reopened with the EU.

He said: “We are not a rejoin party, but we are a very pro-European party.

“We believe it is in the interest of the British people, for jobs, small businesses, exporting, Scottish fishermen, for our security and for our police services that we have the closest possible relationship with our European partners, and we’ll be arguing throughout the next few months and years that Britain needs to have a far more pro-European position.”

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Pressed on whether the issue of free movement should be reopened with the EU, Sir Ed added: “Yes, I think we should do. Free movement is a huge freedom for British people.

“British people work across the European Union, they travel, they live, they bring up families across the European Union.

“It is a huge freedom for our young people. I think one of the sadnesses of taking away free movement is it’s very illiberal – it is taking away that freedom from all our British people.”

The Lib Dem leader also defended his party for continuing to carry out door-to-door leafleting during the Covid pandemic, adding that it is “compliant with the guidance”.

Asked if it was an appropriate action to take following the Government’s stay-at-home message, Sir Ed said: “Yes. If it is compliant with the guidance, absolutely.”

Pushed further on compliance with the stay-at-home guidance, Sir Ed said: “The guidance says there is an exemption for volunteer organisations, we’ve taken legal advice on that, and the advice we’ve given to all our councillors and volunteers is they need to wear a mask, they need to socially distance, they need to sanitise their hands.

“We’re taking all the sorts of precautions that Amazon takes, that Royal Mail takes.”