The Liberal Democrats can offer “exactly the formula” of centrist French President Emmanuel Macron, Sir Vince Cable has said.
The new Lib Dem leader told the BBC that he wanted to occupy the “vast middle ground in British politics that’s largely been abandoned”.
He added that he had worked with Mr Macron in the past and the two “had a very similar approach”.
Sir Vince became Lib Dem leader on Thursday after no-one opposed him.
His predecessor, Tim Farron, stood down after a disappointing general election in which the party increased its number of MPs from nine to 12 but saw its vote share fall to 7.4%.
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election in May with 66% of the vote, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and ending the decades-long dominance of French politics by the two traditional left-wing and right-wing parties.
In June, his La République en Marche (Republic on the Move) party and its MoDem ally won a majority of seats in France’s National Assembly.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, former Business Secretary Sir Vince said Mr Macron, who was previously economy minister in Francois Hollande’s government, “was my opposite number in the French government and we talked often and had a very similar approach”.
He added: “His basic message to the French people, who were very tired and disillusioned by the traditional right and the traditional left, is that you need something else which is moderate, middle of the road, certainly for reform. And that’s exactly the formula that I and my party can offer.”
He said that, in the UK: “The Tories have effectively been taken over by hard line anti-Europe zealots and equally, we’ve got the Labour Party in the hands of the hard left.
“What I call the centre ground of moderation and common sense has largely been abandoned and we should occupy it.”
At 39, Mr Macron became France’s youngest president.
Sir Vince, who is 74 and has been involved in politics since the 1970s, was asked how he could offer “something new and refreshing”.
The Lib Dem leader observed that US President Donald Trump and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “may have different policies but they’re my generation”.
He added: “Novelty for its own sake seems to me to have little merit.”
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