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The Lib Dem "fight back" has claimed its first scalp as the party said it has 10 southern seats in its sights.
It comes after the party secured a victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, with their candidate Sarah Green taking a seat that has always been held by the Tories.
A senior Lib Dem source added that the party is “extremely confident that across the South of England, people are tired of the Tories, and the Blue Wall is crumbling”.
Ahead of the 2024 election, the party, which has been led by Sir Ed Davey since August last year, will look at traditionally Tory voting seats in the South, with constituencies such as Wimbledon, Carshalton and Wallington, Winchester, Esher and Walton and Guildford as some of the key areas to target.
Eastbourne, Wokingham, Surrey South West, Cheltenham and Lewes are also some of the blue constituencies they will be working hard to turn yellow.
Sir Ed Davey said that some of the main areas of contention for voters throughout the by-election campaign were the planning reforms announced in the Queen's speech earlier this year, which stated the Government would centralise planning controls.
Another sticking point has been the treatment of small businesses and the self-employed. It is understood that these three sectors will become their priority in the path to the 2024 general election.
Sir Ed added that “in the past, Liberal Democrats have won Westminster seats on the back of a strong local government base,” as he pointed to the party’s success in the May local elections, which saw the Lib Dems make gains in both Labour and Tory seats. In Stockport they became the largest party with a one-seat advantage over Labour, and in Cambridgeshire they took control from the Tories after gaining five seats.
"Although Chesham and Amersham is better than we expected, it really is a massive, massive win, it builds that trend we've been seeing. It shows there’s a new story in British politics and that's the story of the Blue Wall which the Liberal Democrats are trying to breach,” Sir Ed said.
The party leader also criticised the Government’s “approach” to the self-employed and small businesses, which he said was “unacceptable”.
“And they're listening to the big businesses, and some very wealthy people in the city a lot, and they're not listening to people who are the lifeblood of a healthy, healthy economy,” he added.
Sir Vince Cable, the former leader of the Lib Dems and a former business secretary, told The Telegraph that focusing on business as the party moves forward will win them more support from Tory voters in the shires.
“The Lib Dems when we were in government had very good relations with business, big and small. So, from a positive point of view we established our reputation for working with the business community and so on the positive side, what we hadn't banked on was that the Conservatives would alienate the business community.”
“The fact that business was treated with such contempt has been remembered.”
Sir Ed added that he believed voters would be more inclined to vote for the Lib Dems rather than Labour in the future, because although they are now “more sensible than under Corbyn”, he cautioned that “nobody would see them primarily as a pro-business party”.