Lib Dems aiming to repeat North Shropshire success in rural Yorkshire, says Ed Davey

The Lib Dems are “coming back” in Yorkshire, party leader Sir Ed Davey has suggested, as he shared his hopes that seats across the region could turn yellow in the coming years.

Sir Ed believes that he could be on track to make gains from both Labour and the Conservatives in parts of the North, at both a council and Westminster constituency level.

Their by-election victory in North Shropshire, he says, indicates that rural areas are up for grabs as well as more urban seats.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of a trip to York this weekend for the party’s spring conference, Mr Davey said: “I think we’re coming back actually.”

Sir Ed Davey will be in York this weekend for the Liberal Democrats' spring conferenceSir Ed Davey will be in York this weekend for the Liberal Democrats' spring conference
Sir Ed Davey will be in York this weekend for the Liberal Democrats' spring conference

He added: “Look what’s happened to the party in the last 12 months.

“You know people this time last year weren’t taking much notice of us, but we were busy working on campaigns, talking to people, listening to people, not taking them for granted like the Tories and it has paid off.

“Chesham and Amersham in true blue Buckinghamshire, we beat the Tories and no one expected us to and I coined the phrase the blue wall where we’re taking on the Tories.”

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However, he describes the North Shropshire victory as “possibly more relevant” to the challenges the party faces in Yorkshire.

Lib Dem Helen Morgan took the seat in December with a majority of 5,925, with Conservative Owen Paterson having stepped down following the lobbying scandal.

“The Tories had held it for 200 years,” Sir Ed said.

“They’d really taken it for granted. And Helen Morgan took it off them with a 5,000 vote majority.

“That’s the sort of rural seat that you do see in Yorkshire and across the North and there was a quite big Leave vote there and we still won.”

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Hull Council could fall under Liberal Democrat at this year’s local elections, Sir Ed suggested.

“We’ve done well there in the past. I think there’s a real chance, it’s not definite but I think we really could take control of Hull this year”.

Pointing to campaigns in Liverpool and Manchester as areas where his party are in a strong position, he added: “I think where you’ve got incompetent Labour councils where they’re taking people for granted.

“Liberal Democrats will give them a run for their money in Sunderland, for example.”

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“In Yorkshire I focus on places like Hull and Harrogate and Sheffield.”

Sir Ed’s focus will be on a range of areas including Harrogate and the seat of former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, Sheffield Hallam, but he said : “Look at a whole range of places we’re making gains, from Barnsley to Rotherham we are making progress.”

“I have talked to colleagues in some of our seats where we think we can beat the sitting MP so Laura Gordon and just been re-selected to fight Sheffield Hallam.

“She almost took it last time off Labour, there’s just a majority of 700.

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“So we think we can win back Sheffield Hallam, and Harrogate and Knaresborough [...] that’s a real prospect for us."

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