The Lib Dems have passed a motion at their annual party conference to support Britain in re-gaining membership of the EU at an “appropriate future date”. The position, backed by newly elected leader Sir Ed Davey, also wants to hand back control to Brussels and calls for the “closest possible” alignment between the UK and EU in relation to a customs union, single market and freedom of movement.
The long term vision was supported by a huge 76 percent of the membership.
It says any date would be “determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms”.
Hardline Remainers within the party did, however, see an amendment arguing for Britain to immediately re-join the bloc rejected by members.
In the crunch vote, just 24 percent of members supported the idea of the UK overturning Brexit when the transition period ends of December 31.
At the last general election the Lib Dems were humiliated after leader Jo Swinson lost her seat after campaigning on a manifesto to stop Brexit, and defy 17.4 million people who voted to leave the bloc in 2016.
Ms Swinson lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP less than six months after becoming leader of the party.
A damning internal inquiry into the Lib Dems 2019 general election performance compared it to a “high-speed car crash”.
Following the debate on the Brexit motion on Sunday, Lib Dem Brexit spokeswoman Christine Jardine said the party would “never turn our back on our pro-European values”.
Ms Jardine also ordered Boris Johnson to secure a trade agreement with the EU and said the Lib Dems will “put every last ounce of political energy towards stopping a no deal”.
She said: “With our country already facing the biggest economic and health crisis in generations, it is unthinkable that the UK would crash out of the transition period without a deal.
“Boris Johnson must start putting the nation first, rather than sacrificing everything and anything in his ideological pursuit of Brexit.
“This is about stopping the disaster of food shortages, medicine shortages, and more.
Speaking to Sky News, the Lib Dem leader said: “I can’t see us at the next elections be anything other than pro-European but I also think we need to face the situation as it is.
“Britain will have left the European Union. I think that the idea that people want to revisit this in two or three years’ time, I think that’s for the birds.
“But we will remain passionately pro-European, determined to get the benefits of working with our friends and neighbours.”