LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Liberal Democrats have announced a new leader, the party’s first permanent chief since it suffered a disastrous result in the 2019 election.
The left-of-center party’s acting leader, Ed Davey, comfortably defeated newcomer Layla Moran in a campaign that was mostly conducted online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Davey is the Liberal Democrats’ fourth leader in five years. The party, once the junior partner in a governing coalition with former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, has suffered poor poll ratings and seen its influence significantly diminished in Parliament in recent years.
In a speech Thursday, Davey said he wanted to rebuild the party “to national relevance.”
“We have to wake up and smell the coffee. Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters,” he said.
Former leader Jo Swinson stepped down after December’s general election, when she lost her own seat to the Scottish National Party.
Swinson had led a campaign promising to revoke Brexit should her party win a majority. Critics say she had badly misjudged the public mood by so strongly backing the “Remain” stance.
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