APPLAUSE ripped through a city centre pub as Liberal Democrat’s new leader Vince Cable said he could be “a better Prime Minister than Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May.”
The former business secretary, ballroom dancing fanatic and soon-to-be-published fiction writer was speaking to 150 party members at the Slug and Lettuce on Above Bar. 
But he urged members to believe in him – and said there was “a real opportunity to break through” the current model of “extreme left and extreme right” politics “on a big scale” in a political climate that is “more unstable and more unpredictable” than he’s ever known.
He also pledged to lobby for an “exit from Brexit” – a move that would allow the public to change their minds if in two years’ time a decent deal for leaving the EU hasn’t been struck. 
He asked to not be seen as a “civilised bean counter” – but that the Lib Dems should be 
seen as a party with “soul” 
and address inequalities of wealth between classes and generations. 
The new leader is halfway through a tour of the UK so 
party members can “get to know” him.
In Southampton he visited a 26-bed homeless hostel run by Society of St James, talking to manager Paul Baker, CEO Trevor Pickup and residents.
And speaking to the Echo Mr Cable said housing would be a key focus of his leadership.
He said: “I know Southampton quite well because my wife has a small holding in the New Forest, and Harbour Lights is where we go for out Saturday night entertainment.
“But I’ve come here to see the phenomenal work that people here do. 
“Homelessness is a complex issue but one of things that we need to have is local authorities having more funding to build more housing stock. 
“They have got to have permission to manage and control housing stock.”
But with his reputation as an economics heavyweight Mr Cable said there needs to be a “single voice” in the region.  He said: “There is an endless battle between the cities and the up-country areas without a combined approach. Until this part of the country speaks with one voice the amount of regeneration won’t be enough.”
Lib Dem’s 2017 Southampton Itchen election candidate Eleanor Bell said she was pleased at Mr Cable’s election to leader – but said he “should have done it ten years ago”.