UK Election: Liberal Democrats face uncertainty after vote

Nick Clegg’s party must reflect on losses following ‘painful’ election night

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during his acceptance speech following his re-election in Sheffield Hallam. The Liberal Democrats are facing up to the results of a ‘painful’ election night.  Photograph:  EPA/Nigel Roddis

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during his acceptance speech following his re-election in Sheffield Hallam. The Liberal Democrats are facing up to the results of a ‘painful’ election night. Photograph: EPA/Nigel Roddis

 

The scale of the electoral drubbing inflicted on the Liberal Democrats was becoming clear after what leader Nick Clegg dubbed a “painful” night for the party.

The number of Liberal Democrat MPs could be reduced to single figures, with cabinet ministers Vince Cable and Danny Alexander having lost their seats.

An exit poll forecast that the Liberal Democrats would return just 10 MPs to the House of Commons, but party sources indicated that even that figure could be optimistic given the “devastating” night following the election.

A source said: “The exit poll is accurate. It may be even worse than that.”

In southwest London, energy secretary Ed Davey lost the Kingston and Surbiton seat to the Conservatives, while Mr Cable failed to retain his seat in Twickenham. Mr Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury, lost his seat in Inverness to SNP challenger Drew Henry.

“Devastating is the word I have been using,” said the senior party source.

Ahead of the election, Mr Davey had noted: “We knew that going into coalition would probably hurt us and that we would lose some valued colleagues.

“We’ve had to take some tough decisions and we may well be being punished for taking those tough decisions, but we won’t regret that.”

Clegg win

Mr Clegg retained his Sheffield Hallam seat after a “close” contest. Mr Clegg was booed after his win and heckled during his acceptance speech.

After his victory, Mr Clegg said: “It is now painfully clear that this has been a cruel and punishing night for the Liberal Democrats.”

Mr Clegg indicated that he would comment later today on his leadership of the party.

PA and Bloomberg