The Liberal Democrats would end negotiations with the EU and stop Brexit “there and then” if the party forms a government, Willie Rennie has pledged.
On a campaign visit to Dunfermline on Wednesday, the party’s Scottish leader said Brexit is preventing investment in important areas such as childcare, mental health and tackling the climate emergency.
He welcomed a “Remain alliance” formed in England and Wales between the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru in a bid to stop the UK exiting the EU.
Speaking at Lauriston nursery as the Scottish Liberal Democrats announced plans to expand free childcare to babies from nine months, Mr Rennie said: “What’s really important is that we stop Brexit because it’s damaging our economy and dividing our country.
“It means it’s stopping us from doing good things like expanding childcare and nursery education, so we need to stop Brexit.
“And of course some parties have decided to stand down in certain seats in England, which of course will help the Liberal Democrats gain more seats and stop Brexit.
Outlining his party’s priorities on day one if elected to government, Mr Rennie said: “We’d end negotiations with the European Union, we would stop Brexit there and then because the sooner we stop it, the sooner we can stop the economic damage and the division in our country.
“And that means we can immediately focus on the big challenges that we face in tackling mental health, in tackling the climate emergency, but also making sure we can expand nursery education.”
Mr Rennie said that while the Lib Dems would be prepared to work with pro-EU candidates from other parties, it would not be possible if they continue to stand on platforms which could deliver Brexit.
He added: “The only way to stop Brexit in this election campaign is to come behind the Liberal Democrats because we are crystal clear we need to stop Brexit, but also stop independence so we can stop the constitutional damage to the country.
“It means we can move on and invest in things like childcare.”
Mr Rennie also said his party would continue to oppose a second Scottish independence referendum, both at Westminster and at Holyrood.
Today I was in Dunfermline talking about the Lib Dem pledge to increase funding for high-quality childcare in Scotland.— Willie Rennie (@willie_rennie) November 13, 2019
Unaffordable childcare prevents too many parents from working and contributes to the gender pay gap. pic.twitter.com/jJvYvaLhgi
He said: “Liberal Democrats, whichever Parliament we’re in, will never support another independence referendum.
“We don’t think it’s good for the country. We need to end the constitutional damage and the economic damage to the country as well.
“So that’s why we would never support it in any circumstances.
“It’s really important we do move on, we learn the lessons from Brexit, rather than trying to repeat them with independence.
“Let’s try to tackle things like childcare expansion, let’s tackle the climate emergency, deal with mental health service problems that we’ve got in this country.
“We’ve had enough of the division and damage over the constitution.”