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Ed Davey wins Liberal Democrat leadership race

Ed Davey - Image credit: PA images

Ed Davey wins Liberal Democrat leadership race

Sir Ed Davey has been selected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats after winning a decisive victory over fellow MP Layla Moran.

The party's acting leader secured 42,756 votes compared to 24,564 votes for his rival.

The contest, which was initially set to be held in 2021 before the decision was overturned by party bosses, was conducted almost entirely online due to social distancing restrictions.

Davey, a former cabinet minister in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, is the first permanent leader since Jo Swinson stepped down in December after losing her East Dunbartonshire seat in the 2019 general election.

Speaking after the results were announced, Davey said the Lib Dems had to “wake up and smell the coffee” about the party's challenges.

“To the members of the Lib Dems, thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago,” he said.

“Nationally our party has lost touch with too many voters. Yes, we are powerful advocates locally, our campaigners listen to local people, work had for communities and deliver results.

“But at the national level we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.

“The truth is voters don't believe the Liberal Democrats want to help ordinary people get on in life.

“Voters don't believe we share their values, and voters don't believe we are on the side of people like them.”

He added: “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.”

The Kingston and Surbiton MP had promised members he would use his years of Commons and government experience to help rebuild the party, which currently holds just 11 Westminster seats.

Moran, the party's education spokesperson, had instead offered a “more radical” approach, aimed at winning the support of younger voters.

Speaking ahead of the result, the Oxford West and Abingdon MP said: “I am immensely proud of the positive and hopeful campaign my team have run, and I have sent my heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers who helped me.

“Both Ed and I have committed to implement the general election review and improve diversity in our party.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Ed Davey will be a great new leader of the Liberal Democrats. He has the determination to get us a winning again. 

“Ed Davey marks a change for the Liberal Democrats and he is determined to listen very carefully to what the voters have to say. 

“Many people want the Liberal Democrats to play a big part in the life of our country. Ed Davey has the experience and determination to fulfil that ambition.  

“The country has been through difficult times in recent months with the pandemic and now we need to rebuild the country so that it is caring, compassionate, outward looking, cares about the climate and the environment and wants to rebuild jobs and the economy.  

“Ed Davey is bustling with ideas about how to achieve that. If you share our ambition join the Liberal Democrats and Ed Davey to make that happen.”

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