Brexit: Willie Rennie grilled by Marr over Lib Dem stance
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Speaking to BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie claimed the Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to rejoin the European Union after covid. But Mr Marr questioned him on his differing position to UK Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey on rejoining the European Union who has said on a number of occasions the Liberal Democrats are “not a rejoin party”. Despite the comments Mr Rennie insisted the party still was a rejoining party but needed to focus on covid recovery first.
Marr said: “You were always the pro-eu party, you were the party for Europhiles and now you have ditched as a party that policy, you are no longer in favour of rejoining the EU.
“If you are a pro-European, pro EU Scot right now who wants to be back inside the EU, the answer is don’t vote for the Liberal Democrats, vote for the SNP.”
But Rennie replied instead focusing on the Scottish Nationalists and Brexit: “I don’t think the nationalists learnt one single lesson from the Brexit experience, not on single one. We had divisions right across the country. We’ve seen problems with businesses trading across the European Union
“They’ve (SNP) looked at that an thought we want mroe than than I think we should put the divisions of the past behind us… but I accept that for the next five years we should focus on recovery.”
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But Marr interjected and repeated himself: “You are the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, but the leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, ED Davey has been absolutely clear he said – ‘we are NOT a rejoin party.”
Rennie instead said: “If you look at the debate that we had at conference it was crystal clear, we want to join the European Union, we are very clear about that and we have to persuade people, you have to follow the conference!”
Marr interjected for a second time, saying: “I’m sorry, but Ed Davey on the 30th January 2020 and then again this year said ‘our campaign to stop Brexit is over, we are not a rejoin party’. He is leader of the Liberal Democrats, which is it?”
Rennie countered Marr’s question saying: “You need to look at what the party’s policy actually is and the parties policy is clear, we want to persuade people, over a period of time, to join the European Union.”
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Mr Rennie added: “We want to make sure we keep close in the meantime so that we have good trading relationships so that people have the opportunities they previously had with the European Union.
“But for now, for the next five years, I absolutely agree with Ed Davey, we need to focus on the recovery becuase thousands of people are on the verge of losing their jobs!
“That should be the priority in the next five years.”
But Marr highlighted how Mr Rennie did not mention the European Union in his conference speech saying: “So that is why you did not mention it in your conference speech at all?”
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But Rennie slammed back at Marr: “I talk about Europe alot Andrew!
“I think you’ll find that I am a dedicated European but the most important thing for the next five years is we put recovery first and the divisions of independence behind us.”
Mr Rennie has been leader of the Scottish Liberal Democracts since 2011 and serves North East Fife as an MSP.
Scotland goes to the polls on May 6th to elect MSP’s to Holyrood, the SNP are expected to win a majority.
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