Sir Ed Davey will promise to be “the voice of nine million carers” when he makes his first speech at the Liberal Democrat conference as party leader.
Speaking via video link, Sir Ed will draw on his experience of caring for his mum and later for his disabled son.
He will also acknowledge the party’s “three deeply disappointing elections” and say that voters think “we’re out of touch”.
The Kingston and Surbiton MP was elected party leader in August.
In a speech delivered online due to social distancing restrictions, Sir Ed will pledge to “stand up for carers”.
He is expected to recall his own time as a teenager, nursing his mum when she had bone cancer and “taking her tumblers of morphine” before going to school.
He will also tell the audience about looking after his own severely disabled son.
“John is 12, he can’t walk by himself, he was nine when he first managed to say ‘Daddy’,” he will say.
“John needs 24/7 care – and probably always will.
“So let me say this, to all of you who need care… I understand what you’re going through and I promise you this: I will be your voice. I will be the voice of the nine million carers in our country.”
On Brexit, Sir Ed will say that his party will “always be European” but needs to listen to voters following poor election results.
“At the national level at least, too many people think we’re out of touch with what they want.
“The answer is to listen to what people are really telling us. And to change.”
During the 2019 election, the party adopted a strong anti-Brexit message, but an internal report later argued the stance had “alienated large chunks of the population”.
‘The forces of nationalism’
Looking ahead to Scottish Parliament elections next year, Sir Ed will say it is “imperative” that Liberal Democrats are elected to Holyrood.
The SNP government in Scotland has said it wants to hold a referendum on independence as soon as possible.
Sir Ed will warn that the Scottish elections “could well determine if our country has a future” adding: “Once again, the forces of nationalism threaten to tear our family of nations apart.”
The Liberal Democrat leader will also use his speech to attack the government over its handling of coronavirus, accusing the prime minister of “not rising to this challenge”.
He will set out how he thinks the UK economy should adjust to not only the pandemic, but also climate change and Brexit.
“So if there’s less demand for office space, let’s work with businesses to turn those buildings into sustainable, affordable homes to help solve the housing crisis,” he will say.
“If there’s less demand for oil and gas, let’s work with industry to transition the UK into the world-leader in clean energy technologies – from hydrogen for heating to tidal for power.”
Sir Ed became leader of the Liberal Democrats in August in a leadership contest triggered by the resignation of Jo Swinson.
She stepped down as leader following disappointing results in the 2019 election. The party currently has 11 MPs in Westminster, five MSPs in Scottish Parliament and one assembly member in the Senedd.