The Kingston and Surbiton MP admitted it was “rational” to stand down in areas of the country where Labour is more likely to succeed. Conservatives have been left outrage by the tactics being adopted by the two parties, accusing them of an electoral pact.
Across the country, hundreds of the party’s candidates have backed out of votes taking place tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Labour appears to have returned the favour by doing the same in areas where the Lib Dems have more support.
For weeks both Labour and the Lib Dems have refused to admit such an agreement is in place, but last night Sir Ed conceded he had chosen to give Sir Keir’s party a clear run in some areas.
“Political parties need to make rational decisions,” Sir Ed told LBC.
“You would expect us to make rational decisions and we put our scarce resources where we think we can win.”
The decision has sparked fury from Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden.
He said: “From London to Yorkshire, the evidence of the Labour and Lib Dem back room stitch-up is increasingly clear.
“While the Conservatives fight for every vote on a record of delivering good local services and keeping council tax low, Labour and the Lib Dems are running from their abysmal records at running local councils and resorting to secret deals.”
In a separate interview, Sir Ed praised Labour for becoming “more aligned” in policy with the Lib Dems.
He said: “I welcome politicians from any party who share similar policy positions, who change their policy positions to be more aligned to us; of course I welcome that.
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“And there’s no doubt Keir Starmer is much more to the centre Jeremy Corbyn.
“I mean, that’s hardly news. And I think that’s a good thing for British politics.”
The Lib Dems remain staunch in their crticism of Brexit and have even set out a roadmap for rejoining the EU single market.
Sir Keir was responsible for Labour’s policy on leaving the bloc at the 2019 election, when the party pledged to hold a second referendum on the issue.
The Labour leader now says he accepts the UK’s decision to leave and that he is focused on wanting to “make Brexit work”.
Speaking this morning Sir Keir rejected claims he was working with the Lib Dems to oust the Tories.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We are actually standing more candidates in this election than any other party and more than we’ve stood for many years.”
He added: “We haven’t got a pact with the Lib Dems.”