Ed Davey quizzed over possibility of coalition
Sir Ed Davey has failed to rule out a post-General Election pact with Labour to stop the Tories forming the next Government.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats failed to rule out a potential deal with Sir Keir Starmer’s party in the event of a hung parliament after the next election.
He told Sky News his party could play a “critical” role in removing the Tories from power, but when quizzed about a deal with Labour he appeared to keep his options open.
Asked if he would emphatically rule out a formal or informal deal with the Conservatives, Sir Ed told Beth Rigby: “I have ruled out doing [a deal] with the Conservatives for a very good reason.
“First of all, I have personally fought the Conservatives all my life. I took my seat from the Conservatives. I fought them at every election, so I and many Liberal Democrat MPs have always been against the Conservatives.”
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He was then pushed repeatedly to say whether he would rule out a deal with Labour, but refused to speculate about what could happen.
Side-stepping giving a definitive answer, Sir Ed went on to point at divisions among the Tories and at his aim to replace Tory MPs with Lib Dems at the next election.
Last week, Sir Ed insisted he is not interested in a pre-election pact with Labour to oust Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
He said he was “100 percent” ruling out a pre-election deal with Sir Keir, even in seats like Mid Bedfordshire, where the upcoming by-election in Nadine Dorries’ former constituency will see Labour and the Lib Dems go head to head in a bid to win the seat from the Conservatives.
Tory Party Chairman Greg Hands said on X in response to Sir Ed’s comments today (September 25): “Vote LibDem, get Labour.”
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Sir Ed’s comments came ahead of an embarrassing blow to the Liberal Democrats’ leadership at the party’s autumn conference in Bournemouth.
Party plans to abandon a pledge to build 380,000 new homes a year in England were scuppered by rebel activists after the Young Liberals put forward an amendment to stick to the 2019 commitment.
After a rowdy debate at the event in Bournemouth, the party approved a motion committing it to the target to set a “clear direction of travel” for addressing the housing crisis.
Sir Ed tried to dodge the overwhelming defeat by saying it was a “rite of passage” for Lib Dem leaders to face members voting against them at conference.
Among other senior figures to oppose the motion was former leader Tim Farron, who was booed by some in the conference hall as he branded the move “pure Thatcherism” in a speech.
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Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats received a £1million boost to their election war chest after a member left the party money in his will.
One source said the donation, which is the party’s biggest since 2019, would be “transformational” to the party’s campaign.
The windfall, which came from a legacy donation made by deceased former lawyer and longstanding member John Faulkner, is said to be enough to recruit extra staff in dozens of seats.
The party is now understood to have 35 high-net-worth donors giving £50,000 or more a year, up from 25 last year.
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