Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey launches blistering personal attack on Boris Johnson at party conference

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey arriving to give his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year. Picture date: Sunday September 19, 2021.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey arriving to give his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year. Picture date: Sunday September 19, 2021.

Sir Ed Davey said Boris Johnson was not 'worthy' to be prime minister and accused him of a 'total lack of shame or decency'

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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey launched a blistering attack on the Tories, telling supporters that Boris Johnson was not "worthy" to be prime minister.

During his keynote address at the Liberal Democrat's annual party conference, Sir Ed said the Conservatives could be outside from power if his party take seats from them at the next general election.

He launched a personal attack on the prime minister, accusing him of a “total lack of shame or decency”, adding that the Conservative Party had become an “ugly, ugly sight” under his leadership.

Sir Ed also used his speech to call for a £15 billion Covid catch-up plan for education with vouchers worth £200-a-year issued directly to parents to spend on their children’s learning.

In his first live address since becoming leader last year, Sir Ed said the Lib Dems’ win in the recent Chesham and Amersham by-election, where they overturned a 16,000 Conservative majority, showed they could take seats in the so-called Tory “blue wall” across southern England.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey giving his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year. Picture date: Sunday September 19, 2021.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey giving his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year. Picture date: Sunday September 19, 2021.

Speaking to around 150 activists in London’s Canary Wharf, he said part of the reason for their victory was a “groundswell of frustration and discontent” among voters who felt ignored and taken for granted by the Tories.

“They just don’t feel that Boris Johnson represents them. “Or shares their values. “They’re not convinced the Prime Minister is competent, or worse still, decent,” he said.

“Wherever you look in this shocking Government, the truth is, that over the last few years Boris Johnson has remade the Conservative Party in his own image.

“And it is an ugly, ugly sight. “His casual disregard for facts or truth. “His trail of broken promises from ‘No border in the Irish Sea’ to ‘No tax rise’.

“And his total lack of shame or decency. “Boris Johnson is not a Prime Minister worthy of our great United Kingdom.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey arriving to give his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year. Picture date: Sunday September 19, 2021.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey arriving to give his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year. Picture date: Sunday September 19, 2021.

Sir Ed said the role of the Lib Dems in the current parliament should be to act as a “gathering point” for all those who were fed up with the “indecency and incompetence” of the Conservatives and wanted them out.

“Make no mistake: the electoral arithmetic is clear.

“These Conservatives can’t be defeated next time unless we Liberal Democrats win Tory seats,” he said. “Boris Johnson will stay in Downing Street unless we throw him out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday September 15, 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday September 15, 2021.

“This is a heavy responsibility but frankly it’s all the motivation I need.” In his main policy initiative, Sir Ed called on the Government to heed the advice of its former education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins who quit after ministers refused to back his plans for a multi-billion pound recovery programme.

The Lib Dem leader said there should be a £15 billion catch-up programme over three years, with £5 billion going directly into the pockets of parents through catch-up vouchers.

He suggested the scheme could be would “the world’s biggest ever parent-listening exercise” with schools and Governments having to take account of their views.

“Parents could choose to spend it with their child’s own school – on an after-school homework club, on one-to-one tuition, on special extra-curricular activities from sports to music lessons, provided for that child by their school,” he said.

“Or parents could choose to spend it on tuition they organise. “Or with a music teacher they find. “Or on therapy and counselling. “As long as it was supporting the education and well-being of their child, it would be the parents’ choice.”

The Lib Dems said that under the proposals, catch-up vouchers worth £200 a year would be given to parents for all 8.3 million children in state-funded schools. There would be double vouchers, worth £400, for disadvantaged children and triple vouchers worth £600 for pupils with special educational needs.