The Lib Dems hope Tim Farron’s performance during Wednesday evening’s live BBC election debate will give the party a much needed boost in the polls just one week out from the election on June 8.
Farron went on the attack early in the 90-minute debate, mocking the prime minister for not showing up. “Where do you think Theresa May is tonight? Take a look out your window. She might be out there sizing up your house to pay for your social care,” he said.
The Lib Dems have gone all in on a pro-EU ticket in the campaign in the hopes of persuading Remain voters to back the party. However the poll surge many expected has yet to materialise. A YouGov survey published after the debate, but conducted in the days before, showed the Lib Dems on 7%.
Speaking to HuffPost UK following the debate, Lib Dem president Sal Brinton acknowledged the party had struggled to be heard during the campaign.
“It’s been first time many people will have seen him [Farron] and that’s important for us, because all the minor parties have a problem with a new leader who has come in since the previous general election. They just don’t get the coverage,” she said.
Asked if Farron’s performance would give the party a lift in the polls, the Lib Dem peer said: “I really hope so”.
“What I do know is in our absolute key seats, where we are already doing well, there is no doubt this will have helped particularly where were are fighting the Conservatives. Because once again we have demonstrated why we are actually the real opposition on Brexit to Theresa May,”
She added: “Jeremy Corbyn’s performance tonight was woeful, I suspect he is now regretting having decided to come he has given Theresa May a blank cheque on Brexit.”
A Lib Dem source said Farron had “full on smashed it” in the debate - which saw the seven party representatives often shout over each other.
Corbyn, who announced he would take part in the debate at the last minute, shied away from making too much of May’s decision not to turn up. A Labour source said this was a deliberate decision designed to make the Labour leader look more prime ministerial.
The Labour leader was joined on stage by Farron, Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson stood in for Nicola Sturgeon.