Sir Ed Davey has been elected the new Liberal Democrat leader following a month-long ballot of party members.
Sir Ed, a former Cabinet minister in the Coalition government, secured 42,756 votes to beat fellow MP Layla Moran (24,564 votes) to the party’s leadership.
The 54-year-old had been the Lib Dems’ acting leader since last year’s general election.
Speaking as he was announced as the winner of the party’s leadership election on Thursday, Sir Ed admitted the Lib Dems faced a challenge in trying to reconnect with the wider UK electorate.
“We have to wake up and smell the coffee,” he told party members.
“Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters.
“Yes, we are powerful advocates locally. Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results.
“But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.
“Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening.
“It is time for us to start listening. As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now.”
The Lib Dems had been without a permanent leader since December’s general election, in which previous leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in the House of Commons.
The election was a huge disappointment for the Lib Dems, with the party winning just 11 seats – one seat down on their 2017 result.
This was despite high hopes – and impressive polling – for the anti-Brexit party ahead of the election campaign, at the start of which Ms Swinson declared herself to be a “candidate for prime minister”.
However, the Lib Dems struggled through the election campaign and an internal inquiry into the party’s performance – conducted after election night – likened their efforts to a “high-speed car crash”.
None of the former Labour or Conservative MPs who made high-profile defections to the Lib Dems ahead of the election kept their seats in the House of Commons.
The party’s new leader will now face a challenge in reviving the Lib Dems’ fortunes ahead of local elections; expected to be held next May following their postponement from this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent opinion polling has consistently put the Lib Dems below 10% – massively behind the Conservatives and Labour.