I'm angry about what the Conservatives are doing to our country


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Barely a week after the starting gun was fired on General Election 2017, Ed Davey is starting to move through the gears. 

Already today, he's hit the high street, approved leaflets, chaired strategy meetings and bade farewell to his family, who are off to Dorset for a few days. Despite the late hour, he's still up for a joust - and a pint. As the sun sets, he and I settle down for a beer and a raft of questions. Such as...

What have you been doing since you lost in 2015?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngAfter licking my wounds, I set up a business. Before I was first elected in 1997, I was a management consultant, so I’m back in consultancy. And given my lifelong interest in the environment and climate change, most of my clients are in renewable energy and clean tech.

How did it feel to lose?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngIf it had just been me, I'd have been pretty crushed. But, there were 49 Lib Dem MPs who lost their seats. So, I didn't take it personally. I was disappointed, but there's life after politics.

And yet, you've come back.

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngI'm angry about what the Conservatives are doing to our country. I passionately believe that Britain should cooperate with our European partners.

We are a stronger, more stable country inside the European Union.

If we do follow a hard Brexit, we will become less prosperous, our incomes will go down, we will have less money for our health service, our schools, our police, the army. We'll be a poorer country. And, I don't want that.

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"I passionately believe that Britain should cooperate with our European partners.

We are a stronger, more stable country inside the European Union."

What were the high and low points of the Coalition years?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngI'm very proud of the environmental deal I struck in Europe. It took two-and-a-half years, and no-one thought we’d get it. But, we created a momentum that led to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. But do you know how much press coverage it got? Zero. They weren't interested in a positive European story and they certainly didn't want to give a Liberal Democrat any credit for it.

The low point was when we couldn't deliver on tuition fees. I was passionate about that policy, but the Tories wouldn't let us have it. We should have told people back at the very start of the coalition that this was the Conservatives' demand but instead we got the blame.

It was frustrating, especially as we implemented 70% of what we had in our manifesto. We delivered a lot to help the poorest of society. We also put the issue of mental health on the political map. So, there was a lot that made the coalition worthwhile.

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"I'm very proud of the environmental deal I struck in Europe. It took two-and-a-half years, and no-one thought we’d get it."

How do you feel about the Liberal Democrats now pledging not to go into coalition?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngIt's absolutely the right thing. We needed stable government in 2010 to keep the country going after the financial crisis. We stepped up to the plate.

The only financial crisis on the horizon in 2017 is that caused by Brexit. The idea that we could do a deal with a party that is intent on seeing through the biggest act of national self-harm we've ever seen is something we could never be a part of. And, Labour aren't going to get anywhere near power under Jeremy Corbyn - they're going to lose seats.

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"The idea that we could do a deal with a party that is intent on seeing through the biggest act of national self-harm we've ever seen is something we could never be a part of."

What concerns you most about the Tory approach to Brexit?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngThe hard Brexit we're seeing with Theresa May will take us out of the Single Market and out of the Customs Union - things people were told would not happen.

We respect the referendum result, but we have always favoured membership of the European Union and we’re deeply against hard Brexit.

We don't think that exiting the Single Market was what people voted for. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that is promising people a vote on the deal when we finally know what it is. We still don't know what Brexit means even now.

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"We respect the referendum result, but we have always favoured membership of the European Union and we’re deeply against hard Brexit.

We don't think that exiting the Single Market was what people voted for."

Turning to Kingston & Surbiton, what are our main challenges over the next five years?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngEducation and health. I'm absolutely committed to a well-funded state education system. And whether it’s school places, keeping school sizes down or keeping teacher numbers up, our schools need more cash. My priorities in education would be to reverse the spending cuts and find places for new schools to be built.

And on the NHS, only the Lib Dems have said where the money will come from for a major funding boost to our NHS.

Housing is a big issue here also. But current plans for massive tower blocks aren’t the solution - especially in Tolworth and New Malden. We need a different approach with a focus on affordable family homes.

What are your favourite things about this constituency?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngI love the river. We live nearby and I love walking into town. I like the many parts of the borough that have a villagy feel, where you get a real sense of a community.

We’ve got great schools, low crime, good transport links. It's really friendly here. In the last 20 years, it's got a bit younger in its outlook - more vitality.

What makes you the best candidate?

66-speech-marks-smaller.pngI'm the most experienced.

I'm also the most committed to opposing hard Brexit and ensuring it's the people who have the final say on the Brexit deal.

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 "I'm the most experienced candidate.

I'm also the most committed to opposing hard Brexit and ensuring it's the the people who have the final say on the Brexit deal."


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