Liberal Democrats on course for five-fold General Election result boost

The Liberal Democrats are set to increase their presence in Parliament more than five-fold, compared with the General Election result in 2019.

Exit poll forecasters have said Sir Ed Davey’s party is on course for 61 seats.

The Lib Dems won just 11 seats almost five years ago when the Conservative Party secured an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons under Boris Johnson.

Throughout the campaign, Sir Ed has toured the country in his battle bus called Yellow Hammer 1, taking part in stunts including toppling off a paddleboard in Windermere, playing tennis in Newbury and surfing near Bude in Cornwall.

As polls closed, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed said: “The Liberal Democrats are on course for our best results in a century, thanks to our positive campaign with health and care at its heart.

“I am humbled by the millions of people who backed the Liberal Democrats to both kick the Conservatives out of power and deliver the change our country needs.

“Every Liberal Democrat MP will be a strong local champion for their community standing up for the NHS and care. Whether you voted for us or not, we will work day in and day out and we will not let you down.”

Seats that the Liberal Democrats could win include Godalming and Ash in Surrey, where party candidate Paul Follows is up against Chancellor Jeremy Hunt; Chichester in Sussex where Jess Brown-Fuller is Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s challenger; and Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where Justice Secretary Alex Chalk could finish behind Max Wilkinson.

Sir Ed Davey tries - and fails - to ride a surfboard standing up
Sir Ed Davey learning to surf near Bude, Cornwall (Matt Keeble/PA)

The Liberal Democrats helped bring the Conservatives into power 14 years ago in 2010, when Nick Clegg used the 57 seats his party won to top-up the Tories’ 306, forming a coalition government led by David Cameron.

Parties need 326 seats for a majority.

But the Liberal Democrats suffered a near-wipeout in 2015, securing just eight seats.

But after the 2019 poll, the Liberal Democrats took several seats at by-elections, with the party’s first win on June 17, 2021.

Sarah Green won Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire with a majority of 8,028, overturning the Tories’ 16,223 majority.

By-election wins followed in North Shropshire, Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, and Somerton and Frome in Somerset.

The party’s deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, has admitted some of her voters in 2024 will have made their choice “tactically” to unseat Conservatives, while others would have supported her party “positively”.

She told the BBC: “Well, it does look like we’re on course for a once-in-a-century result for the Liberal Democrats and I think that is testament to the phenomenal leadership of Ed Davey who has lit up this campaign and our positive vision and our plans for how we want to save the NHS and fix social care.”

Labour is on course for a landslide, according to the exit poll projection, with 410 seats.

The Conservatives are set for 131 seats.

The exit poll also forecasts the Liberal Democrats on 61 seats, Reform UK on 13 and The Green Party on two.

In Scotland, the SNP are expected to secure 10 seats with Plaid Cymru in Wales on four.

It would be the lowest number of Tory MPs on record.