PM has ‘bottled’ general election, says Sir Ed Davey

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “bottling” a general election as he predicted his party would make gains at the local elections.

Sir Ed was on the third day of a tour of the West Country taking in visits to Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire ahead of the local elections on May 2.

He said that in many parts of the country – including across the south of England which has been dubbed the “blue wall” – the Liberal Democrats were the challengers to the Conservatives.

“Rishi Sunak certainly has bottled it. Liberal Democrats have been speaking, I think, for the people,” Sir Ed said during his visit to Gloucester.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey with Cllr Angela Conder and Cllr Jeremy Hilton during a visit to Hillfield Gardens in Gloucester (Ben Birchall/PA)
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey with Cllr Angela Conder and Cllr Jeremy Hilton during a visit to Hillfield Gardens in Gloucester (Ben Birchall/PA)

“We want an election now, we want change, we want to get rid of these Conservatives.

“They don’t seem to care and they have taken people for granted, and people want a change.

“In many parts of the country, in the South West of England and the West Country, in the blue wall seats, and in many parts of the country, the Liberal Democrats are the main challengers to the Conservatives.

“We’ve shown in parliamentary by-election after parliamentary by-election that only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Conservatives in some of their heartlands.

“We go into this general election year very optimistic and looking to be a key part of removing very many Conservative MPs at the next election.”

Sir Ed Davey meets Liberal Democrat activists during a visit to Gloucester (Ben Birchall/PA)
Sir Ed Davey meets Liberal Democrat activists during a visit to Gloucester (Ben Birchall/PA)

Sir Ed was in Gloucester to meet volunteers from the Friends of Hillfield Gardens group who are dedicated to maintaining the community gardens.

To mark his visit, he planted a deutzia shrub and took part in some weeding of the borders, which he joked were “Tory weeds”.

Speaking afterwards, Sir Ed said: “The local actions on May 2 are really important for the country.

“Here in Gloucester, the Liberal Democrats are hoping to beat the Conservatives and take control of Gloucester City Council.

“Just down the road we’ve been running Cheltenham for quite a few years now, and even hope we can take the seat of the next general election with our great candidate, Max Wilkinson.

“I think people here in Gloucester have seen what a great job Liberal Democrats have done in Cheltenham and they’d like some here too.

“So, we have increasingly been getting stronger here and there’s a chance we can take the council.”

After leaving Gloucester, the Lib Dem leader was heading to Cheltenham to carry out a series of engagements, including visiting the Brewhouse and Kitchen to take part in the brewing process and sample the beer made on site.