Boris Johnson could lose seats to a resurgent Lib Dems who have built up their largest election war chest ever

Boris Johnson's upcoming election campaign will be met by a resurgent Liberal Democrats, who have built up their biggest ever election war chest, according to figures seen by Business Insider.

The party's fund-raising board confirmed this month that it had surpassed its £8 million target by raising around £11 million for the next general election, which the prime minister wants to take place before the end of the year.

The figures show that the Lib Dems are set to smash all of their previous election expenditure when Brits next go to the polls. The party, led by Jo Swinson, spent around £6.8 million on campaigning at the last election in 2017.

A senior Lib Dem source told Business Insider: "The Liberal Democrats have more members than ever and we have welcomed several new MPs in the last six months, members who had left both Labour and the Conservatives.

"The next general election is a massive opportunity for us, we hope to have our largest ever war chest to fight the election and lead the campaign to stop Brexit."

The source said that while the party's former leader Sir Vince Cable focused on raising funds primarily at local level, Swinson has prioritised attracting big donations since taking over as leader in the summer.

The party's figures suggest they will spend as much as the Conservatives and Labour have spent on recent general election campaigns, when Brits next to go the polls. At least twenty people have each donated £300,000 or more to the party, according to the figures.

Prime Minister Johnson on Thursday called on his opponents to support his bid to hold a general election in December when his government tables a motion on Monday.

Lib Dem leader Swinson on Thursday said her party would vote in favour of an election motion once "it is clear that we can avoid crashing out with no deal, and that needs an extension from the EU."

EU leaders are expected to agree to a three-month extension, allowing time for an election to be held in the UK. The European Union is set to announce the length of the Brexit delay early next week.

Lib Dems are confident of another election surge

Reuters

The Lib Dems are feeling particularly confident heading into a potential snap election after enjoying a surge in support this year.

The pro-Remain party made over 700 gains in local elections before leap-frogging Labour and the Tories to finish second in European elections. Some polls have put the party level with, or ahead, of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.

Swinson's party has identified 80 target seats at the next general election. The top targets are primarily seats in the south of England which voted to stay in the European Union but are represented by Conservative MPs.

One of these constituencies is South Cambridgeshire, southeast England, where the party's newest member of Parliament, Heidi Allen, is hoping to retain her seat after quitting the Conservatives earlier this year.

She told Business Insider this week that business figures in her constituency were coming to her with "enthusiasm" about the Liberal Democrats ahead of the next general election.

"The Tories are no longer the party of business. I'm seeing a lot of business people coming to me who are excited that I've joined the Liberal Democrats and want to know what our policies are going to be," Allen said.

"If we can frame ourselves the sensible, pragmatic, evidence-based party that we are — not just on Brexit but across the whole policy spectrum — then I think there's every chance we can do very well indeed."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *