Sir Ed Davey has insisted his party will not strike a pre-election pact with Labour and that re-joining the European Union is currently “off the table”.

The Liberal Democrat leader said he was “sick and tired of the Tories” but there would be no electoral deal with Sir Keir Starmer to oust Rishi Sunak from Downing Street.

Speaking ahead of his party opening its first UK conference in four years today, Sir Ed also said most people on the doorstep “aren’t talking about Europe”.

He said: “We're the party of trying to make sure that relationship [with the EU] works." 

The SNP said that left them as the only major party committed to reversing Brexit.

The four day gathering in Bournemouth is the LibDems’ first conference since 2019 following disruption from Covid and a clash with the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Ed said it would focus on voter concerns such as household bills, social care, the NHS and sewage being pumped into rivers, as the party looks to add to its 15 MPs at the general election by targeting so-called “Blue Wall” Tory-held seats across southern England. 

Sir Ed told 5 News: “I have to say I am sick and tired of the Tories. Even in coalition with them [from 2010 to 2015] I fought the Tories every single day.”

But he said he was “100%” ruling out a pre-election deal with Sir Keir, even in seats like Mid Bedfordshire, the former seat of MP Nadine Dorries, where a byelection next month could see Labour and the Lib Dems go head to head for votes and let the Tories hold on. 

“I’ve said in every single by-election since I’ve been leader there will be no pacts, there will be no deals. And I don’t think voters want parties to stitch things up,” he said.

Despite the LibDems’ Europhile history, Sir Ed also told the BBC: “We want Britain to be back at the heart of Europe but we’re also realistic that’s going to take some time.”

SNP Europe spokesman Alyn Smith said: “With Starmer, Sunak and Davey – the three bungling Brexiteers of UK politics – all throwing in the towel and ruling out any return to Europe, it’s clear independence is Scotland’s only route back to EU prosperity and the only escape from the long-term damage of Brexit.”

Deputy LibDem leader Daisy Cooper said the party was preparing to “take a sledgehammer to the blue wall” as it kicked off conference season with a raft of new potential policies.

Delegates will debate a 1p tax on every new item of clothing and creating more social housing, as well as motions on the health service and environment