'Members of EU are not on the table', says Davey

'Members of EU are not on the table', says Davey

Davey said joining the EU is a 'long-term thing' but is not currently on the table - as Liberal Democrat tensions grow about Brexit.

The Lib Dem leader has said he has worked very carefully with foreign policy spokesman Layla Moran to make sure we can improve our relationship with Europe.

But he added that 'at the moment those sort of things are not on the table'.

Questions remain over the party's Brexit stance, with Sir Ed heckling on Sunday after insisting to delegates during a Q&A session that he was 'campaigning hard on Europe'.

Sir Ed said the people on the doorstep just 'aren't talking about Europe' but senior figures - including former leader Sir Vince Cable - have argued the party should not lose sight of the issue.

An ultimate goal to return to membership status within the bloc is currently official policy, but the leader has been reluctant to speak publicly about this and says it is currently off the table.

Jo Swinson, former Lib Dem leader, launched the party's embarrassing 2019 general election campaign on a promise to revoke Brexit without a referendum, but ended up losing her seat.

Sir Ed has advocated 'root-and-branch' reform of the current trade and co-operation agreement, but framed this as a long-term challenge, arguing that a'realistic' approach is necessary.

The party has resisted a long-standing pledge to put a penny on income tax to finance spending on the NHS and social care.

The Lib Dems have called for the increase since 1992, but they have scrapped it in a bid to pimp pressure on Tory MPs in the so-called blue wall of safe southern seats.

Sir Ed said the commitment was unsustainable when people are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

He added: 'It has been two years of frozen income tax allowances and four more years to come. In those six years of stealth income tax rises, the basic rate of tax rose more than 3p.

t asks working families to pay more in taxes. Instead, Mr. Ed said the party would hike levies on banks and large companies.

Reversing cuts to the surcharge on the financial sector and increasing the burden on water, oil and gas firms would help to fund the party's newly adopted multibillion-pound policy platform, he said.

The party adopted an early version of its manifesto at its annual conference on Sunday, with policies aimed at winning over voters in Tory heartlands.

It will lay out a fully costed document at the polls next year, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Among its policies is a £5 billion social care pledge which would see people 'be looked after where they want to be at home' and improved GP and mental health services.

Sir Ed has argued that the social care package would be able to pay for itself by saving £3 billion on the NHS, for example by freeing up hospital beds and relieving pressure on care homes.

Newly relaxed housing targets may also prove controversial with activists when they are debated on Monday.

The party has committed to building 150,000 social homes a year, shifting away from a commitment to build 380,000 homes annually in its 2019 manifesto.

But one Lib Dem council leader, Helen Morgan, said leaving national housing goals would be an 'abdication of responsibility' and warned against 'fluffy local targets'.