Over the weekend of 17-19 March, the Liberal Democrats, one of ALDE Party’s members in the United Kingdom, held their Spring Conference in York. During the Conference, Leader Ed Davey insisted on the need to repair the UK’s trade relationship with the European Union: “Let me shout it, yet again: if you want to boost our economy, you have to repair our broken relationship with Europe.”
“Liberal Democrats are the only ones with a real plan to fix Britain’s trade. To tear down the Conservatives’ trade barriers, rip up their red tape, and rebuild the ties of trust and friendship with our European neighbours. Because as liberals we are proud internationalists. Who understand that our country thrives most when it is open and outward-looking. When it stands tall in the world, instead of shrinking back from it,” he added.
Looking ahead towards local elections that will take place on 3 May, he rallied the crowd saying: “The Conservatives: always so out-of-touch. Always taking people for granted. What a disgrace they are. Just at a time of crisis, when we did need “strong and stable” government, the Conservatives gave us chaos and division. When Britain needed integrity, they gave us Boris Johnson […] Labour’s ambitions are hardly much higher. Their only goal seems to be: “Not as bad as the Conservatives”. Talk about a low bar! […] The British people deserve so much more than that. And Liberal Democrats, our ambition for our country is so much greater than that.”
Read his full speech here or watch more below.
During the Conference, delegates also voted on a series of policy motions to fix the social care crisis, boost energy efficiency, create a fairer society, maintain the UK's nuclear and At-Sea deterrent forces, provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees, and guarantee access to dental care.
The Liberal Democrats European Group (LDEG) hosted two fringe events during the programme, including one that featured the participation of ALDE Party Vice-President Sal Brinton alongside Sir Graham Watson, former MEP and ALDE Party President, and Alistair Carmichael MP. The events focused on the Windsor Framework and its implications for the party’s Europe policy, adding to the discussion that had taken place earlier in the day in the plenary hall.
LDEG also organised a debate focused on developing links between the UK and the EU at a local government level, during which David Chalmers, Chair of the party’s Federal International Relations Committee, read out a statement from Sean O’Curneen, Secretary General of Renew Europe Group in the Committee of the Regions, outlining the proposed ‘Liberal Democrat EU Liaison Councillor’ Scheme. This scheme seeks to build upon the network currently being developed across the EU member states, to ensure a network of UK councillors are kept informed and also keep other councillors informed of what the EU is doing that could be relevant to their local communities, recognising that much needs to be done now to reconnect and rebuild the UK-EU relationship.
The date and location of the Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference was also announced, which is set to take place on 23-26 September in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.
Photo credit: Liberal Democrats