Lib Dem leadership contender urges reforms as key part of any coalition talks

Electoral reform would have to be “front and centre” of talks for the Lib Dems to enter a new coalition, one of the party’s leadership contenders has said.

The Lib Dems’ deputy leader Jo Swinson said she would not enter a coalition with Labour or the Conservatives at the moment because the current leadership of both parties was “fundamentally opposed to our core values”.

But Ms Swinson, who served as a minister in the former coalition government, said on Friday that fundamental political reform would have to front and centre of any future coalition talks.

She added: “Currently, the leadership of those parties is so fundamentally opposed to our core values that that (a coalition) isn’t possible.

“Strategically, for solving the problems within our politics, we need to change the broken way in which we do things.

Jo Swinson
Jo Swinson

“One of the key things that needs to happen as we address the political chaos is, we need to change our electoral system.

“That’s part of what’s going wrong. In any future discussions with any leaders that are not so diametrically opposed to our values, that fundamental political reform has to be front and centre.”

She added: “There’s no way we can go forward in the future in those type of arrangements without securing that political reform.”

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The East Dunbartonshire MP said stopping Brexit was a fight that could be won and there was growing support for a people’s vote.

She added: “The Lib Dems are committed to stopping Brexit and we are optimistic given the recent European election results.

“There’s an appetite among many people in the country, looking at the Brexit shambles, to say: ‘This nonsense has to stop.’

“We have to win the battle in Parliament and that is through cross-party alliances.

“Parliament does not want a no-deal exit. That has been crystal clear. Parliament is going to have its say.

Today I’m delighted to announce I’m running to be leader of the @LibDems

Under my leadership we will:🔶 #DecarboniseCapitalism🔶 Champion Liberals values and expose the deceptions of the new far right🔶 Fight to #StopBrexit🔶 Keep the #LibDems#BackInTheGame


— Ed Davey🔶 (@EdwardJDavey) May 30, 2019

“So this is absolutely a fight we can win and the way to do this is to get the coalition of support for a people’s vote.”

Ms Swinson used an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time to confirm the leadership bid.

A new Lib Dem leader will be in place on July 23 after Sir Vince Cable announced his decision to stand down earlier this year, and Ms Swinson will face competition from former cabinet minister Sir Ed Davey.

The leadership contest comes as the Lib Dems received an opinion poll boost, with a YouGov study suggesting they are the most popular party.

The party came second in the European elections, and the YouGov poll for The Times suggested its popularity has increased even further.

The Lib Dems were on 24%, ahead of the Brexit Party on 22% and the Tories and Labour neck-and-neck on 19%.

Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey

It is the first time the Lib Dems have been in the top spot in a question on how people will vote in a general election since the heady days of Nick Clegg’s popularity in 2010.

Ms Swinson’s rival for the leadership launched his campaign with a plan to call on the Queen to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Sir Ed said he would propose a “cross-party humble address to Her Majesty, requiring the Prime Minister to revoke Article 50 if we got to the cliff edge.

“I hope Jeremy Corbyn will join me in that address.”

A humble address is a direct communication from the House of Commons to the Queen, calling on the Government to comply with a request. If approved, humble addresses are considered to be binding on the House.

Sir Ed, the party’s home affairs spokesman, said: “Under my leadership, the Lib Dems will continue to lead the fight to stop Brexit, nothing is more urgent in British politics today.”