Homeowners will never trust the Tories again as their mortgage bills soar, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey will say, as he accuses Rishi Sunak of running scared of an election.
In a speech delayed by the Queen’s death, the Lib Dem leader will also liken the prime minister and his chancellor to “bank robbers” as they prepare to unleash more big spending cuts.
Sir Ed will argue it is “obvious” that the UK needs a general election after months of political chaos, accusing Mr Sunak of refusing to give voters the choice because he would be kicked out of No 10.
The speech comes after the number of signatures on The Independent’s petition calling for an early election topped 465,000.
“The British people demand one. So why hasn’t Rishi Sunak called one? We know why. It’s because he knows he’d lose,” Sir Ed will argue, speaking in London.
Referring to recent by-election victories, Sir Ed will say: “He saw what Liberal Democrats did to the Conservatives in true-blue Buckinghamshire, in Shropshire and in Devon.
“And he knows we will do it again – in seats along the blue wall and right across the country.”
Mortgage payers are braced for what the consumer champion Martin Lewis calls the “horrendous shock” of a £3,000 annual hike in bills, after interest rates were raised to 3 per cent on Thursday.
In a Saturday interview, the prime minister pledged: “I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to grip this problem, to limit the rise in those mortgage rates.”
But the Lib Dem leader will warn him: “Inflation through the roof and exports through the floor. And a mortgage crisis, with people’s monthly payments up by hundreds of pounds.
“Never again can the Conservatives claim to be the party of homeowners, the party of business or the party that balances the books. The Conservatives are the party of chaos.”
On the looming autumn statement, the Lib Dem leader will say: “After inflicting so much chaos and damage, the Conservatives want the rest of us to pay to clear up their mess.
“They’re already talking about more unfair tax rises, more cuts to pensions and benefits, and more cuts to schools, the police and even our NHS. They’re like bank robbers asking for a loan to buy the getaway car.”
The speech comes with the Lib Dems riding high on grabbing the Tory stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton in June, after the surprise wins in Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire last year.
The party is confident of repeating this success across the “blue wall” of Conservative-held southern seats, with affluent anti-Brexit voters appalled by Boris Johnson’s scandals.
The Lib Dems also believe they stole a march with early calls for a windfall tax on oil and gas profits and a winter energy price freeze – and recently called for guaranteed GP appointments within a week in England.
It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here