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Ed Davey rejects Labour alliance in wake of by-election victory

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey during a victory rally at Chesham Youth Centre in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, after Sarah Green won the Chesham and Amersham by-election - Credit: PA

Emerging from his party’s recent electoral victory in Chesham and Amersham, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has ruled out the possibility of an alliance with Labour. 

On LBC‘s Swarbrick, Davey said that “there were quite a lot of Labour people and Green people who voted for us very comfortably, partly because they could see that we were the only party which could beat the Conservatives in these blue wall seats.”

When Swarbrick then asked him directly if he would be willing to form an electoral pact with Labour to help beat the Conservatives, he responded by saying that it wasn’t “necessary”. 

He added: “I think progressive alliances take voters for granted. Parties don’t own their voters. They have to persuade their voters. The idea that a Liberal Democrat leader or Labour party leader can say that their voters should vote for this party this election I think is undemocratic, I don’t think it works.”

The Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Green won the formally safe Conservative seat on Friday with 56.7% of the vote with a majority of 8,028, over the Conservatives who secured second place. 

Green said “I am humbled by the faith you have placed in me” and promised she would hold the government to account. “This Conservative party has taken people across the country for granted for far too long,” she added. 

Labour finished fourth in the race, behind the Greens, with only 622 votes. 

The by-election was called after the death of Cheryl Gillan MP. She had held the constituency since 1992 and in 2019 won the seat with a majority of 16,223. The Tories have also held the seat since its creation in 1974, until last week. 

The Liberal Democrats’ national polling remains low, despite showing a gradual shift away from Labour under Sir Keir Starmer’s time as leader. 

But now, Davey is confident that there is “a change in British politics” on the horizon, commenting that the party could win “dozens” of constituencies across the south of England who are being neglected by the government. 

Canvassers in the Chesham and Amersham constituency said that the HS2 railway, which will pass near the towns, and plans for housebuilding emerged as major issues with voters. 

Davey said constituents felt forgotten by the government when he was in the area. “There are always some local factors but actually, on the doorsteps, and I went to Chesham and Amersham 16 times and I talked to hundreds of people and the thing I got from them was that they had been taken for granted by the Conservatives,” he said. 

He added: “Many people in the doorsteps said I was the first politician to knock on their doors and they’d lived there for 20, 30 years so people not just in Chesham and Amersham but across the blue wall seats, I think have been taken for granted and they saw the Liberal Democrats were listening to them.”