But some Liberal Democrats fear that the party could be eclipsed if the new leader, to be chosen in December, benefits from a prolonged "honeymoon period".
At a two-day strategy session in Hertfordshire which ended yesterday, senior Liberal Democrats agreed to exploit to the full the "window of opportunity" until the Tories choose Michael Howard's successor.
They will accuse the Tories of taking their eye off the ball as they oppose legislation on anti-terrorist measures and identity cards and attack the Government's record on the economy, social mobility and the environment.
The Liberal Democrats will not target the Tories but will concentrate their fire on the Government in the hope of showing that Britain has an "absentee official Opposition".
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