Ed Davey suggested his party’s deteriorating reputation cost him his seat in parliament as James Berry became the first Conservative to win in Kingston and Surbiton for 18 years.
Mr Davey had held the seat since it was formed in 1997 when he won with a majority of just 56 votes, but, like so many of his colleagues, lost out to the Conservatives – in this case by 2,834 votes.
The former Energy and Climate Change Secretary, who was tipped to be a potential future Lib Dem leader, insisted that despite the result he did not regret joining the coalition.
“I found in the campaign a huge amount of warmth towards me,” said Mr Davey.
“I found an awful lot of people who wanted to vote for me but didn’t want to vote for my party.
“But I have no regrets about the coalition because I think we saved the country from a calamity – it was the right thing to do.
“We were borrowing £400 million a day, the economy was in serious trouble and we needed a stable government.
“The Liberal Democrats put the national interest ahead of our party interest because we knew this would damage our seat. We are certainly paying some price for going into coalition.”
The four-time elected MP believes his rival’s campaign was effective in swaying sympathetic voters away from him.
In what was a record turnout for the constituency, Mr Davey lost more than 8,000 votes from his successful 2010 result.
The vast majority of these votes were made up by gains for Labour, the Greens and UKIP.
“I actually think the election was lost on the Conservative campaign.
“I lost count of the number of times people said they wanted to vote for me but they were worried about letting in Miliband and the SNP – that was the message that people were worried about.”
After 18 years in office Mr Davey’s outlook for the future of British politics is a bleak one.
“What we have now in Britain today is a very worrying situation – we have a very divided nation.
“We have a Scotland which has fallen almost entirely to the Scottish nationalists and we have a Conservative administration that’s been elected on an English nationalist ticket.
“That I think spells real dangers ahead for our United Kingdom, which I in government worked so hard to preserve.
“I worry about a future European referendum – in a few years’ time we could wake up and see the United Kingdom broken up and Britain out of the European Union.
“I think that will make us a lesser nation as a result. The years ahead pose some serious challenges for our country.”