It surely is no surprise that Sir Ed Davey admitted to me on GB News this afternoon that he has held talks about how the UK can work closer with the European Union in the future. The Liberal Democrat leader told me: “I’ve spoken with European politicians who say you know what? Trade is in our mutual benefit.”

Davey was quick to make clear that this did not mean reopening the Brexit wounds which caused such division from 2016 to 2019, describing that period as “exhausting”. Davey isn’t wrong – I think I went grey over that period covering it for The Daily Telegraph!

But he knows that there is an electoral advantage to the LibDems of holding on to some sort of hope that the UK can be more aligned with Brussels in the future.

Davey refused to give me a timeline but said that his party would follow a four-step process for the UK to enter – eventually – the Single Market. Even then, the UK would end up a rule-taker, not a rule-maker. But the direction of travel will be clear towards a destination which could lead to full re-entry to the EU.

Ed Davey and Christopher Hope

Davey has one advantage in this election but he’s careful not to get ahead of himself – analysis by Christopher Hope

GB News

Davey’s position on the EU makes sense – it is one that Labour can never officially adopt; and the party has always been one of Remain, so it will mean that Europhile voters will be drawn to the party.

I was struck reading the LibDems’ manifesto over how the party was so blatantly trying to appeal to both the Conservatives and Labour all at the same time.

So for Labour supporters, there are policies such as scrapping the two-child benefits cap, “championing” the Human Rights Act and free school meals for all children in poverty.


Ed Davey

Davey refused to give a timeline for his EU plans

GB News

And for the Tories, a triple lock guarantee on state pension increases, reform to the tax treatment of the self-employed and a pledge to restore the Army to 100,000 troops.

The party’s ability to trumpet different policies for different audiences around the country is what frustrates so many Tories and Labour politicians who are wedded to particular platforms, based around leftwing or rightwing policies. But it is effective.

In my interview, Davey refused twice to say if he would be Prime Minister on July 5 (remember how his predecessor Jo Swinson ran a presidential campaign in 2019). And when I asked what was the point of voting LibDem, he replied it was about creating champions for fight for important local causes. Davey was careful not to get ahead of himself.

The truth is that the LibDem manifesto will only find resonance after polling day, if there is suddenly a hung Parliament and the LibDems find themselves as kingmakers in coalition talks. The current polls suggest this is highly unlikely. But it has happened before.

Until then the LibDems will be the beneficiaries for voters who have fallen out with the main parties and have nowhere else to go.