Lib Dems launch election campaign in Cabinet minister's constituency as they vow to smash Tory 'Blue Wall' - and refuse to rule out pact to prop up Keir Starmer in Downing St

The Lib Dems vowed to smash the Tory 'blue wall' today as they launched the election campaign in a Cabinet minister's constituency.

Ed Davey kicked off his push towards July 4 in the marginal seat of Cheltenham, currently held by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

After a series of eye-catching by-election wins, the party is targeting 80 constituencies where they are in second place to the Conservatives. 

But senior figures have also pointedly refused to rule out a deal to prop up Keir Starmer if he falls short of a majority. Many Tories fear that the opposition parties have already informally come to an arrangement about what seats to focus resources on.

Mr Chalk has a majority of just 981 votes, with Lib Dem candidate Max Wilkinson determined to take the seat that the party held from 1992 to 2015.

Ed Davey was alongside his Lib Dem candidate Max Wilkinson in Cheltenham today

Ed Davey was alongside his Lib Dem candidate Max Wilkinson in Cheltenham today

Ed Davey kicked off his push towards July 4 in the marginal seat of Cheltenham, currently held by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk

Ed Davey kicked off his push towards July 4 in the marginal seat of Cheltenham, currently held by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk

Mr Chalk has a majority of just 981 votes, with the Lib Dems determined to take the seat that the party held from 1992 to 2015

Mr Chalk has a majority of just 981 votes, with the Lib Dems determined to take the seat that the party held from 1992 to 2015

During an election rally with party activists, Sir Ed said: 'For far too long people across the UK have been let down and taken for granted by this Conservative Government and this out-of-touch Conservative Party.

'But with this election we have the chance to win the change the country so desperately needs.

'As I go around the country, I might meet people who are working really hard, they're raising their families, they're caring for their loved ones, they're doing everything right, playing by the rules.

'But they're finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

'The people seeing their bills go up, pensioners and families seeing rocketing food bills, energy bills, rent and mortgages.

'The Conservatives have just made it worse.

'The NHS is on its knees under the Conservatives. They promised to build lots of hospitals, and they have not delivered and people are waiting hours just for an ambulance, they're waiting weeks for a GP appointment and months for urgent cancer treatment.

'These Conservatives have allowed the water companies to get away with pumping their filthy sewage into our rivers and onto our beaches.

'It really is time for change. And that means the Conservatives have to go.

'Across the country we've seen so many parts of the country where it's a vote for the Liberal Democrats that will get rid of the Conservative MP.

'There's a real chance in this election if people vote, they will get that change.

'But it's not just a change of Government, we need to transform our politics.

'Our politics is broken. If you can transform it that unlocks the chance to fix our health and care system, to get our economy back on track, to end the scandal of sewage, to get the fair deal that people so, so deserve.

'Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a local champion who's going to fight for you, your family and your community – for that fair deal.

'A fair deal where everyone can have a decent home that's secure and clean, an affordable retirement when the time comes, a fair deal where every child has a decent school, where they can have the opportunity to realise their potential.

'A fair deal when everyone can access high quality healthcare they need when they need it, where they need it.

'That's the fair deal that the Liberal Democrats are fighting for. So come and join us and help make it happen.'

The party's deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, dismissed doing a deal with the Conservatives.

But she struck a different note when asked to rule out a pact with Labour.

'We're not thinking about what happens the day after the polling day, we're determined to win over the trust and support of as many voters as possible between now and 10pm on polling day.'

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