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What the new Lib Dem leader needs to do to make the party’s comeback last

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When Vince Cable set a date for stepping aside as Lib Dem leader, back in March, it seemed clear that the contest to replace him would be about saving the party from oblivion. It was lagging far behind in the polls, still suffering from its poor performance in the 2017 general election, and everyone was talking about the terrible threat it faced from a brand new centre party, Change UK. The task of the next leader was big, but it was also fairly simple: to be a fresh face, and to persuade Change UK and the Greens to make pacts with them.

Things have changed. The party stormed to second place in the European elections last week – following gains in local council elections at the start of May – and on Thursday it topped a YouGov poll of Westminster voting intentions for the first time since 2010 – at 24%. Change UK, meanwhile, was demolished. These sorts of results always come with health warnings: the European elections will not necessarily mean much for the next general one (voters tend to use them for protest purposes), and polls are unreliable. But these two events show at least that the Lib Dems are capable of picking up the kind of momentum you might expect from the largest remain-backing party occupying an abandoned centre ground. The European parliament vote has been enough to rattle other parties: remain-backing........

© The Guardian