Who Is Ed Davey, One Of The Frontrunners In The Lib Dem Leadership Race?

And why should we care who leads the Lib Dems?
Lib Dem leadership candidate Ed Davey
Lib Dem leadership candidate Ed Davey
PA Wire/PA Images

The newspaper front pages might be dominated by Tory MPs vying to become the next prime minister, but the Conservatives are not the only party in the midst of a leadership battle.

With veteran politician Sir Vince Cable due to step down at the end of July, the Liberal Democrats are also on the hunt for a new leader.

And on Thursday, Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey revealed he was throwing his hat in the ring to replace Cable, who has been head of the party since 2017.

But who is Davey – and why should we care who becomes the next Lib Dem leader?

Why should we care?

Current Lib Dem leader Vince Cable
Current Lib Dem leader Vince Cable
Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s fair to say that the Lib Dems faded into insignificance in the years after they entered into a coalition government with the Conservatives, losing many of their seats in Westminster and Brussels. However, the party proved itself to be a fighting force once more in the European elections last week, emerging as the strongest anti-Brexit group.

Not only did the party scoop up 20.3% of the vote – coming second only to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – but they also bagged 15 seats in the European parliament.

So, with the UK still trapped in the midst of Brexit and a significant portion of the population desperate to remain in the EU, whoever becomes the next the leader of the Liberal Democrats could become a big deal in the coming months.

So, Who Is Ed Davey?

John Keeble via Getty Images

Davey is one of the longest-serving MPs in the Lib Dems. Having won his Kingston and Surbiton seat back in May 1997 – arriving in Westminster alongside fellow newbies Vince Cable and Tom Brake – Davey was pushed out of his constituency by the Conservatives in 2015.

However, he fought his way back into parliament in the 2017 general election, taking almost 45% of the votes.

During the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, the 53-year-old served as the secretary of state for energy and climate change. He is currently the Lib Dem spokesperson for home affairs.

What Is He Promising?

Unsurprisingly, Davey is running on a strong anti-Brexit ticket. Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, he said the Tories were not in control of Brexit, calling a second referendum the only way to resolve the situation.

“We are going to fight Brexit, but we are going to do it in a democratic way so the people of Britain have the final choice,” he said.

“Back in 2016 we didn’t really know much about Brexit. The Leave leaders said a whole range of different things and that is one of the problems we’ve had in government today,” Davey continued. “The Conservatives can’t even decide what Brexit means.

“So if they can’t decide what Brexit means, it is clear we didn’t know what Brexit meant back in 2016.”

Meanwhile, Davey is calling for tough new measures to transform Britain’s economy and tackle climate change.

“I’m talking about de-carbonising capitalism, making capitalism turn green so Britain is a world green finance capital,” he told the Today programme. “That means being tough on our banks, on the stock exchange, on the pension funds, so they take account of climate risk.”

This will provide jobs and prosperity for “communities and cities who have been left behind”, he added.

Who Is His Main Competition?

Ed Davey with deputy leader Jo Swinson
Ed Davey with deputy leader Jo Swinson
Getty Editorial

At the moment, Davey is the only Lib Dem to have declared he is running for leader. However, the battle for the top job is expected to be a two-horse race between him and Jo Swinson, the party’s deputy leader and MP for East Dunbartonshire.

Layla Moran – expected to be a frontrunner when Cable announced his retirement in May – has already said she will not stand for the leadership, saying she would not be able to juggle constituency work with leading the party.


What's Hot