The UK government should try and get EU nations to "concede some ground" on free movement of people rules in a bid to maintain full access to the bloc's single-market, the Liberal Democrats have said.
The party's Brexit spokesperson and MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Tom Brake, told IBTimes UK that the "clear statement" of the Leave vote at the EU referendum last year was that people were "concerned about immigration".
"The UK government should seek to try and negotiate continued membership of the single-market and the customs union, but also talk to the EU countries about whether there would be any prospect of them conceding some ground in relation to freedom of movement," he said.
Brake added: "It's something that our government has not even sought to discuss."
The comments come as the two-year-long divorce talks between the EU and the UK begin on Monday 19 June. Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed not to maintain the UK's full access to the EU's single-market and seek a bespoke customs deal so that Britain can broker its own free trade deals and curb migration from the continent.
The Conservative general election manifesto also committed the party to reduce net migration – currently at more than 270,000 – to "tens of thousands". The Tory negotiating plan has been branded a "hard Brexit".
"I hope it will be a softer Brexit because one of the clear conclusions of last week's general election is that the hard Brexit the prime minister was seeking did not command a majority of support in the country," Brake said.
"I welcome the calls made by a number of senior Conservative politicians and politicians of other parties for a much broader approach to this, encompassing the views of a wider range of partners.
"Given that this is the single most important economic and diplomatic issue that the UK is going to have to face in my lifetime, it would be reasonable for a wider range of partners to be involved in these negotiations."
Brake also stressed that Liberal Democrat policy has not shifted since the election, when the party called for a second referendum on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, a unilateral guarantee of the residency rights of the more than three million EU nationals in the UK as well as removing overseas students from the migration statistics.
Since the June vote, Tim Farron has quit as Liberal Democrat leader, citing his Christian faith. Brake told IBTimes UK that he had "no plans at present" to run for the top job or the newly created deputy leader position, which former minister Jo Swinson is running for.
"I would want the new leader to answer 'what is our strategy for growing the number of parliamentarians and increasing the national share of the vote in what looks to be a political environment that has returned almost to a two-party system," he said.