Sir Ed Davey: Liberal Democrat leader talks party conference, booster jabs and staying relevant

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Political Correspondent Phil Hornby sits down with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey

The Liberal Democrat Conference starts this weekend, but they are not packing their bags and heading for the seaside.

Instead, because of the pandemic, they will be meeting online for a virtual get-together.

ITV News Meridian's Political Correspondent Phil Hornby has been talking to their leader Sir Ed Davey, two years since the Lib Dems last held an in-person party conference in Bournemouth.

Let's talk about your party conference. You're not having it in person. Isn't that a slap in the face for places like Brighton and Bournemouth, who rely so much on party conferences for their local economy?

We're going to get back into those town as soon as we can. I'm really supportive of those seaside towns that have been so brilliant and so loyal. A lot of our policies, particularly supporting small businesses, are exactly what those places need to hear.

Do you think it is right not to have your conference this year?

We felt, talking to [health] experts, that it was the right thing to hold it virtually. But I'm really keen to get back. I love Brighton and I love Bournemouth, and it is really important that we can get back and see each other in person. But we do have to put people's health first [concerning the pandemic].

Sir Ed Davey has been the Liberal Democrat leader since 2019.

MP Layla Moran said this week that the booster jabs is a mistake, and that these vaccines should be sent to poorer countries. Is that your party's policy?

We've said for some time that a share of the vaccines in the UK should be given to poorer countries. For this reason; it's in our own interest, and in the interest of every person living in this country.

So you wouldn't go ahead with booster jabs?

I want to make sure that we're protecting British people. And one of the best ways, according to the experts, is to make sure that we help global vaccination.

The South of England used to have quite a few MPs, lots of by-election wins and so on; how can you make yourself relevant again in our part of the world?

We're going to win again. We showed at the Chesham and Amersham by-election just three months ago that we could beat the Conservatives in 'true blue' Buckinghamshire. And in many parts of the South East it's the Liberal Democrats that can beat the Conservatives in the next general election.

I've talked about the 'Blue Wall', the many Conservative seats like Chesham and Amersham, where the Liberal Democrats are well placed to beat them. We're not going to get Boris Johnson out of Number 10, out of government, until the Liberal Democrats are beating Conservative MPs in these areas.