Trans women should be allowed in all public places, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey says

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Ed Davey  said local people should be allowed to block housing developments – but denied that meant less housebuilding  (PA)
Ed Davey said local people should be allowed to block housing developments – but denied that meant less housebuilding (PA)

Trans women should be allowed to enter all public places, the Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey says, as he accuses Boris Johnson of stirring up “a culture war” on the issue.

In a pre-conference interview, Sir Ed also said local people should be allowed to block housing developments – but denied that meant no hope for people desperate for a home.

“I’m a YIMBY,” the Lib Dem leader declared – meaning Yes In My Back Yard – insisting communities are ready to allow housebuilding, as long as they have a say in it.

On trans rights, he was asked whether there are any “places in our society where biological males can’t go”, but told BBC Radio 4: “No”.

Sir Ed accused the prime minister of “making it a culture war”, appealing for a “mature, open, tolerant debate” instead.

He attacked No 10 for “trying to stir division in our country, division on this issue, division on issues around race”, saying: “I don’t think that’s acceptable.”

“If you’re a real statesman, if you want to bring people together, you don’t stir up divisions, the way that Johnson’s doing,” Sir Ed said.

The party leader will use the conference – which is being held online – to position the Lib Dems with an anti-Tory stance, vowing to never help to put Mr Johnson back into Downing Street.

Sir Ed was a cabinet minister in the Cameron-Clegg coalition after the 2010 election, but – asked if the Lib Dems would facilitate a Tory government at the next election – he replied “No”, in an interview with the Financial Times.

He has also ruled out a formal alliance with Labour or the Green party, but the traditional policy of equidistance between the big two parties is effectively over.

“We can take a lot of seats from the Tories in the next election and we are a big threat to the Tories in their heartland,” Sir Ed told the FT.

On his shock Chesham and Amersham by-election win, the leader added: “I was genuinely staggered on the doorsteps by how many people said that they won’t vote Conservative until Johnson goes.”

On housebuilding – after opposition to the government’s loosening of planning laws was a key issue at the by-election – Sir Ed agreed local people should have “the ability to stop” developments.

But he denied there would be fewer desperately-needed homes, telling the BBC: “If you work with the community, you will build those houses.”

Sir Ed condemned the new planning laws, now expected to be paused by the new housing secretary Michael Gove, because of the Tory backlash as “a developers’ charter”.

“The Conservatives want to hand power over developers to build whatever houses they want, wherever they want,” he said.

“Liberal Democrats want to empower communities, so we get the houses that local communities need.”

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