Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has branded Jeremy Corbyn a “bystander” on Brexit after his pledge to take a neutral stance in an EU withdrawal referendum if Labour wins power.
Ms Swinson accused Mr Corbyn of “an absence of leadership” on what she said was the biggest issue facing the UK in generations.
During a campaign visit to the Design Museum in west London, Ms Swinson told the PA news agency: “I think it is quite astonishing that Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to say… not even just refusing to say now where he stands on remaining or leaving the European Union, but is basically saying that he is never going to tell people what he thinks about that.
“I mean, this is the biggest issue facing our country for generations and he is just saying he is not interested in telling people what he thinks.
“To me, I think that is a total absence of leadership. Remainers in this country need a leader, not a bystander.”
After criticism of her performance in the BBC question and answer session with the leaders of the four biggest Westminster parties on Friday, Ms Swinson insisted she was not disappointed with how the TV event went.
She said: “I’m very proud of standing up for what I believe in.
“I think it’s important to have that authenticity in politics. And I have had a lot of good feedback and I look forward to future opportunities to discuss issues with the public.”
Asked if she thought she had faced a tougher time than the other leaders, Ms Swinson said: “People can make up their own minds about that.”
Referring to the audience make-up, Ms Swinson said: “I understand that it was according to the MPs at the last general election, which doesn’t reflect how we are currently in the opinion polls.”
Ms Swinson was visiting the museum to push the party’s policies on innovation and technology.
The party wants creative subjects at the heart of the school curriculum.
The Lib Dems claim a combination of “funding cuts and high-stakes testing” has squeezed creative subjects out of the classroom and there are now 3,500 fewer secondary school teachers employed in art, music, drama and design and technology than in 2015.
In its manifesto, the party said it would spend £10 billion a year more on schools by 2024-25 and employ 20,000 more teachers, including in creative subjects.
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) November 23, 2019
Ms Swinson said: “Creativity is something that we have to nurture in our children, but the fall in teachers in creative subjects shows we are in danger of pushing it out of the classroom.
“We will reverse the trend of creativity being squeezed out of the classroom by putting creative subjects on the same footing as the rest of the curriculum.”
The party would also create an independent, expert-led body to pilot and phase in future curriculum changes in all state schools with input from teachers.
It would be involved in designing a “curriculum fit for the modern world” including creative skills, critical thinking and verbal reasoning.