- Ed Davey is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.
- The member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton defeated Layla Moran in a three-month contest to succeed Jo Swinson.
- Davey is a former government minister and MP of over 20 years.
- He has said the Liberal Democrats would be “anti-Conservative” under his leadership and work with the Labour Party to defeat Boris Johnson’s party.
- He has vowed to make the Liberal Democrats the party of social care.
- Davey faces a big challenge in rebuilding the party after its disappointing result at the last general election.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ed Davey has been elected the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.
The former government minister was confirmed as the party’s new leader on Thursday morning, defeating Layla Moran in a two-person contest to succeed Jo Swinson, who resigned after losing her seat at the December general election.
He defeated Moran by 42,756 votes to 24,564.
Speaking after his victory, Davey said the Liberal Democrats “have to wake up and smell the coffee” as the party “has lost touch with too many voters.” He vowed to bring the party back to “national relevance.”
“Yes, we are powerful advocates locally. Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results,” he said.
“Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening.
“It is time for us to start listening. As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now.”
Davey, the member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton, was the bookies’ favourite to win throughout the three-month campaign having secured the backing of most Liberal Democrat MPs. He served as the party’s caretaker leader during the campaign.
An MP of over 20 years and former minister in the last coalition government, Davey’s pitch focused on his years of campaigning experience. He said in an interview with Business Insider that he was the best-placed candidate to “get the party winning again” after its disappointing result at the December election.
The Liberal Democrats, encouraged by strong polling earlier in 2019, went into election pledging to stop Brexit and hoping for major gains. However, despite increasing its vote share by over 4%, they ended up with one fewer seat in the House of Commons and then-leader Swinson losing her own seat to Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party.
With the Liberal Democrats languishing at around 6% in the opinion polls, Davey faces a major challenge in breathing new life into the party after it was demoralized by December’s election result.
The party’s former leader Sir Vince Cable this week told Business Insider that the impact of the result was “really bad” as it “deflated what was a big return of optimism to the party and we have been struggling ever since.”
Davey has vowed to make the Liberal Democrats more relevant by becoming the party of social care, describing how Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s UK government dealt with care homes during the coronavirus crisis as “negligence on a dramatic scale.”
A former carer, he has called for a public inquiry into the Conservative government’s handling of care homes during the height of the pandemic, which saw hospital patients admitted to homes without first being tested for coronavirus.
He said that under his leadership the Liberal Democrats would be “anti-Conservative” and never enter government with Johnson’s Tory party. “They’re far too right-wing and I don’t want anything to do with them,” he said last month.
Davey’s Liberal Democrats would be centre-left, he said, and would be keen to work with Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer to defeat the Conservatives at the next general election through tactical voting in some seats.
“It’s in their [Labour’s] interest for us to beat the Tories and we can beat them in a whole range of seats. We are second to the Conservatives in 80. Starmer will know that he needs us to beat the Tories. Why would he have a go at us?” he said last month.
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