The Lib Dems are eyeing up Blue Wall seats in the Conservatives’ heartlands in southern England. Sir Ed Davey will use an address to members in London on Sunday to renew his party’s assault on the Tories’ traditional strongholds where he believes floating voters could jump ship at the next general election.
It comes despite the departure of Boris Johnson, who some strategists saw as good for the Liberal Democrats, with Rishi Sunak now at the helm.
The Lib Dem leader told the Mirror: “We want to get ready for the next election to beat lots of Conservative MPs.”
Sir Ed’s party seized Chesham and Amersham in a by-election in June last year, overturning a 16,223 Tory majority.
And in December 2021 the Lib Dems took North Shropshire where the Conservatives previously had a 22,949 majority.
His comments come as Express.co.uk’s weekly tracker poll by Techne put the Liberal Democrats on nine percent.
Mr Sunak, who entered No 10 last month, has given the Tories a bounce after the party plunged in polling during Liz Truss’s short-lived premiership.
The Conservatives are up to 29 percent, an 11-point recovery in two weeks under the new PM.
But Labour still has a huge lead of 20 points over the Tories on 49 percent.
Sir Ed will also use his address to the Lib Dem faithful on Sunday to pledge that patients would be legally entitled to see their GP within seven days – or 24 hours if urgent – under plans he is drawing up.
This right would be enshrined in the NHS constitution, meaning the Government and health service would have a duty to observe it.
The move would be achieved through increasing training places for GPs, changing pension rules in a bid to curb early retirements, and encouraging people to return to the health service through a recruitment drive.
It comes as the Lib Dems are warning of a “stark postcode lottery” in the GP system, with wait times of more than two weeks for one in four appointments in some parts of the country.
Sir Ed said: “Far too many people are struggling to get a GP appointment when they need one, leaving them waiting anxiously for the care they deserve.
“This can lead to missed or delayed diagnoses, or people turning in desperation to our overstretched A&E departments instead.
“Patients are suffering from years of neglect under the Conservatives, who have repeatedly broken their promise to recruit more GPs.
“Liberal Democrats would guarantee people a right to a GP appointment within one week, or within 24 hours if they are in urgent need.
“This would reduce pressure on our hospitals and paramedics, saving crucial time and money elsewhere in the NHS.”