Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said his party is “not strong” and must seek to rebuild itself.
The newly elected leader told the party faithful that after three disappointing general election results, he would shift the focus to “building up” the Lib Dems.
In 2019, the party won just 11 Commons seats – having secured 57 in 2010, when then-leader Nick Clegg subsequently formed a coalition government with the Tories.
In a question and answer session with party members during its online conference, Sir Ed was asked when he would start to seek alliances with other political parties.
He replied: “We’ve got to start with ourselves first.
“We’ve had three very disappointing general election results in just five years, and if you look at the figures we’re not strong.
“Before we talk about alliances, I want us to be strong. If you go into any issue in the future after the general election, whenever, we’ve got to be strong.
“We’ve got to win more Liberal Democrat votes, have more Liberal Democrat MPs, more Liberal Democrat councillors, so we are strong and we represent a strong group of Liberal Democrats who can play a good hand.
“So my focus will be on building up our party and not being distracted by ideas that there is some sort of short-term route.
“It’s not that I’m against working with other parties – I’ve done that in my life, lots of Liberal Democrat councillors do that all the time.
“So as a party that strongly believes in electoral reform, in PR (proportional representation), that sort of takes you into working with other parties – that’s the sort of people we are, isn’t it?
“So I’m very happy to do that but let us be strong first.”
Sir Ed was also asked how his friends and enemies would describe him.
He replied: “I know I’ve got a nickname of Tigger – they think I’m a bit Tiggerish… so I guess people think I’ve got some energy and I’m bouncing around a lot.”
On the negatives, he said: “Tim Farron talked about Liberal Democrats like cockroaches, maybe that’s what they say about Tim, me and the whole Liberal Democrats – that we’re cockroaches.
“That we’re determined, and we’re not going to give up, we’ll be campaigning, and if they think they’ve got rid of us they should think again: we’re coming back.”