As the party’s conference gets under way today, leader Sir Ed Davey insisted it was a realistic ambition to target the Harrogate seat, which currently has a 9,000 Conservative majority.
His party currently have no Parliamentary seats in the whole of Yorkshire.
The Lib Dems overturned a 16,000 Tory majority in Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire this summer as part of their strategy to target Tory-held ‘Blue Wall’ seats in the South.
Sir Ed told The Yorkshire Post: “I don’t think the Liberal Democrats will have fully recovered until we recover our ground in Yorkshire and indeed across the North in general.”
The party currently has 12 MPs in Parliament, with only one –Tim Farron – based in Northern England.
Sir Ed said he thinks the party can recover in the North “by building on some really good strength in local government”.
“We lead in the City of York and are the official opposition in areas like Sheffield and Harrogate, while Barnsley and East Riding have got strong groups, as have Leeds and Kirklees,” he said.
“We still have a very strong local government base across the North and in Yorkshire and we made gains at the local elections in Sheffield and Hull.”
He admits that turning those green shoots into Parliamentary seats in Yorkshire is “going to be a big test” but highlighted Labour-held Sheffield Hallam where the Lib Dems finished second by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2019 and which was held by Nick Clegg until 2017 as a seat “that is definitely in our sights”.
Sir Ed said Harrogate & Knaresbrough, a constituency which was held by the Lib Dems between 1997 and 2010, is also a key Liberal Democrat target seat at the next election.
“We are finding quite a lot of Tories – and not just in so-called Blue Wall seats in the South but in seats like Harrogate – are pretty fed up and this gives us a huge chance to come back and win back seats that we’ve held,” he said.
Tories 'losing support over broken promises'
The Conservatives “are losing a lot of support across the country”, Sir Ed Davey has claimed.
“Look at their recent decision to break their election promise on National Insurance, look at the broken promise on overseas aid, look on their broken promise on triple lock for pensioners.
“There is a whole range of things where they’re doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t do.”
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