General election targets drawn up by Lib Dems as they plot to seize 70 seats from Tories
The Lib Dems, who elected their first female leader in July, have launched a drive to schmooze former Tory and Labour donors as they ready themselves for the next public poll. Tory former cabinet ministers have warned Boris Johnson’s entry into No 10 and his pro-hard Brexit stance could push many traditional Conservative voters towards voting for Jo Swinson’s party.
One ex-minister said if the Prime Minister crashed the UK out of the EU it would alienate many of the party’s loyal voters and would play into the hands of the Lib Dems.
The source told the Guardian: “The route the PM and Dominic Cummings have taken is really blind to the fact tat you’ve opened up this yawning chasm in the centre of politics.
“The Lib Dems have always been at their best in a crisis.”
Mr Cummings, one of the chief architects of the successful Leave campaign during the June 2016 EU referendum, has been labelled a genius.
Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings as senior advisor, prompting speculation he was preparing for a general election.
According to the Guardian, the Lib Dems have spent the summer months conducting research into how best to approach the next election, after this year saw them reach their highest poll ratings since 2010.
The party has jumped on the anti-Brexit sentiment among voters who would not normally back the Lib Dems and in her victory speech Ms Swinson pledged: “I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit.”
An internal memo written in June by the Lib Dems’ campaigns director Shaun Roberts deemed 76 seats attainable, with the lion’s share of those targeted currently held by the Tories.
The report said: “Of the first 100 seats we a target, most of these seats will come from the Conservatives.”
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Party staff were ordered to “revise (the) general election plan” and preparations for more research were put in the pipeline.
The Esher and Walton seat in Surrey is one of the most unusual seats the Lib Dems are said to be targeting.
The constituency is currently represented by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and is seen as secure as he holds a majority of more than 23,000 votes.
Mr Raab formerly held the Brexit secretary brief, before he resigned in protest over Theresa May’s deal.
He stood in the Tory leadership race after failing to secure enough support from fellow MPs.
Since Mr Johnson appointed Mr Raab Foreign Secretary, replacing Jeremy Hunt, he has been sent on overseas missions to broker new trade deals.
Last week alone he racked up more than 11,000 air miles in three days as he visited the US, Canada and Mexico.
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