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Lib Dems hope to take Conservative seats once held by Cameron and Johnson | General Election 2024

Lib Dems hope to take Conservative seats once held by Cameron and Johnson | General Election 2024

Lib Dems hope to take Conservative seats once held by Cameron and Johnson | General Election 2024

The Liberal Democrats are increasingly confident they can beat the Conservatives in large parts of southern England, including the two Oxfordshire seats previously held by David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, spent Sunday campaigning in Bicester, where the party believes it can defeat the Conservative candidate, Rupert Harrison, a highly respected economist and former adviser to former chancellor George Osborne.

Davey’s visit was part of a strategy that has seen the party move further into safe conservative territory as the campaign has progressed, boosted by polls showing it is gaining support in large parts of the south and south-east.

A party source said: “We are really encouraged by what we are seeing in the final stretch of the campaign. Support for the Conservatives appears to be collapsing in the south of England and we have continued to regain it.”

The party entered the elections focused on 80 seats, where it finished second in 2019 (almost all of those retained). Officials say there are more of those 80s at stake now than when the campaign began. “The results of the count look better than a week ago, and even better than two weeks ago,” said one.

Internal Lib Dem polling seen by the Guardian suggests there will be tight contests in Bicester and Woodstock, Didcot and Wantage, Henley and Thame (which includes much of Johnson’s old seat) and Witney, Cameron’s former constituency. The party believes each of these constituencies could be won by a margin of just 500 seats.

This is in line with national polls which suggest the party has gained more than a percentage point during the campaign, while the Conservatives and Labor have lost support. Large-scale MRP models suggest that all pollsters expect the party to win Henley and Thame, but are divided over which party will win the other three targeted Oxfordshire seats.

The party will spend the final days of the campaign targeting Labor voters in seats where Labor finished third in 2019, hoping it can unlock up to 25 seats in a last-ditch effort. As well as the Oxfordshire seats, the party is investing resources in Theresa May’s former seat of Maidenhead, as well as the south-west seats of Frome and East Somerset, and Torbay.