(Mirror) – Ed Davey has been elected leader of the Liberal Democrats, defeating challenger Layla Moran.
The pair have been locked in a tussle for the top job since former chief Jo Swinson – who once boasted she could become Prime Minister – lost her seat at December’s general election.
Sir Ed lost last summer’s leadership race to Ms Swinson, who lasted less than five months in the role before being brutally ousted by voters.
He has been acting leader since Ms Swinson’s departure.
Lib Dem activists see the result of the latest leadership battle as a fight for the soul and direction of the party, with a former minister from the coalition era facing off against an MP who was first elected in 2017 and has trumpeted herself as being untainted by the five-year partnership with the Tories.
Voting closed yesterday at 1pm and the winner of the contest was announced at a virtual event in Central London.
The Liberal Democrats won just 11 seats last year, and after an internal inquiry into the party’s poor performance likened the campaign to a “high-speed car crash”, the next leader will be aiming to turn the party’s fortunes around.
Sir Ed, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton, is an experienced politician and former minister who first entered the Commons in 1997.
Sir Ed was a business minister under former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during the coalition years, and then moved to secretary of state for energy and climate change in 2012, promoting green energy policies.
He has temporarily co-led the party with Lib Dem peer Baroness Sal Brinton since Ms Swinson stepped down in 2019.
Sir Ed said the leadership election had put both candidates through their paces.
He said: “The next leader faces a huge job to rebuild the party, take on the Conservatives and get the party winning nationally again.
“This contest has put both candidates through our paces and made sure that the victor is battle-tested for this tough job ahead.”
Having won her seat in 2017, Ms Moran has fewer years’ experience in the Commons in comparison to Sir Ed, but believes that she can bring a breath of fresh air to the party.
Before politics, Ms Moran was a maths and physics teacher and is currently the Liberal Democrats’ spokeswoman for education.
Ms Moran has said she believes she can offer the party a new start after numerous disappointing election results between 2010 and 2015, and has ruled out joining another coalition with the Conservatives.
She has also suggested that she would be prepared to work with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on some issues.
Ms Moran said: “After a decade of decline, the Liberal Democrats are at a crossroads between revival or irrelevance.
“I’m urging members to seize this opportunity to renew the party, so we can transform the country. That starts by acknowledging our mistakes, listening to voters and showing them we are on their side.
“Our party has a chance to thrive, not just survive. Electing me as leader will send a clear signal that we are moving forward.”
Liberal Democrat members were able to vote for their preferred leader from when ballots went out on July 30 until Wednesday August 26.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse announced she was entering the race in February, but has since withdrawn from the contest.