Layla Moran has said she would not rule out the Liberal Democrats having a formal relationship with Labour, saying lessons need to be learned from overly ‘tribal’ campaigning that handed the Tories a huge majority in the general election.
The MP, who is tipped as a possible future Lib Dem leader, said that her party and Labour should “bury the hatchet” and work together in future – depending on who takes over from Jeremy Corbyn.
She said the Unite to Remain tactical voting initiative was a “start in the right direction” for a progressive alliance, saying it was only the parties’ differences on Brexit that prevented Labour from being wholly involved.
Speaking on LBC Radio, she described how her own seat, Oxford West and Abingdon, was taken from the Conservatives thanks to a cross-part “coalition of voters”.
“If I reflect back to 2017 when we unexpectedly took my seat … it was because we created a truly progressive alliance of all parties, including Labour Party members and voters.
“Some of whom actually went out and campaigned for me in order to overturn that seat. This time, that happened again because we have that kind of relationship. It wasn’t an official thing at all, it was a coalition of voters.”
She added: “I think the Unite to Remain alliance was a start in the right direction, but because of Brexit and because of Labour’s … equivocal stance on Brexit, they couldn’t be part of it.
“I think we’ve got an opportunity now to truly bury the hatchet with the Labour Party.”
The MP added that she thinks with “sadness” about the general election campaign where both parties engaged in “tribal” politics.
“I think with sadness at places like Finchley and Golders Green where I understand in the last few days of the campaign they flooded it with Labour Party members to campaign against Luciana [Berger] even though it was obvious that she was the contender to the Conservatives in that seat. And that was just tribal politics.”
She added there were other seats where the Lib Dems could have “maybe put in a bit less effort” where a Labour candidate could have won.
“I understand that there are more than 50 seats in this election that could have swung towards either us or the Labour Party – and so you wouldn’t have had that landslide 80-seat majority that we have now, it would have been far far less and far more reflective of the country,” she said.
“I do think, as progressive parties, we need to find a way of working together.”
She said she wouldn’t rule out having a formal relationship with Labour in the next election.
“We would really really have to see what that looked like. It would absolutely depend on that new leader.
“I think we need to recognise that we have so much more in common.”
She said that Lib Dems share – not only with Labour voters, but also socially democratic Conservatives – “very similar” end goals for the country.
She continued: “The Labour Party and Liberal Democrat Party actually have much much more in common than I would say divides us. Certainly when Labour is more centrist.”
She also said: “There’s common ground between us, I’d love to be able to explore that with them.”