British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration is “mired in foolishness” and could suffer the same fate as his Tory predecessor John Major 25 years ago, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has warned.
After weeks of damaging stories about culture in Westminster, Mr Davey compared the situation to 1997, when he was first elected and the Tories crumbled against Tony Blair’s Labor Party.
‘The Conservative government had run out of steam, was not listening to people and was mired in foolishness and scandal,’ Mr Davey said.
“And when I talk to people on the doorstep, the biggest issue, actually, is the cost of living. And when you walk out of Westminster and you talk to people from across the country, they are quite alarmed that the Conservatives are so out of touch that they are raising taxes.
Local council elections across the UK tomorrow will follow revelations about anti-lockdown parties in No 10 and Whitehall, the resignation of Conservative MP Neil Parish for watching pornography in the House of Commons and the conviction of MP Imran Ahmad Khan for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Mr. Davey added that, in another echo from 1997, it is the issue of household finances that is raised by voters.
“There were a lot of stealth taxes, remember, and we see that again; we are witnessing 15 tax hikes by the Conservatives, quite unfair hikes, in a period of crisis in the cost of living.
“So I haven’t seen anything like it since I’ve been in Parliament, but it reminds me of that time when the Tories completely lost touch.”
But while in 1997 Mr Blair and then Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown discussed at length the possibility of working together, Mr Davey insisted there was no more pact with Labour, although he welcomed Keir Starmer’s party shift to the centre.
“I welcome politicians from all parties who share similar political positions, who change their political positions to be more aligned with us, of course I welcome that.
“And there is no doubt that Keir Starmer is much more in the center than [former Labour leader and Sir Keir’s predecessor] Jeremy Corbyn. I mean, this is not news. And I think it’s a good thing for British politics if people are more towards what I call the reformist centre.
The Tories have suggested local elections have seen Labor withdraw in areas such as the South West of England, where the Liberal Democrats pose the biggest threat, with Mr Davey’s party returning the favor in the North-east.
But he added: “There is no pact. There will be no pact.
He cited “very clear” evidence, with the Lib Dems taking on Labor in other parts of England and triumphing in by-elections in Chesham, Amersham and North Shropshire.
Mr Davey said he was relishing the prospect of another by-election in Tiverton and Honiton, with the safe Tory seat vacated by Mr Parish.
The Lib Dems will have to overturn a majority of 24,000 but the Lib Dem leader said: ‘It reminds me of the by-election in North Shropshire.
“There was a very rural community where conservatives had taken this for granted for decades. When we started knocking on doors in North Shropshire, people were talking about ambulance wait times, a health service in crisis, farmers feeling betrayed.
“I would expect there to be some in Tiverton and Honiton.”