Independent Group and Lib Dems can unite to fix ‘broken’ UK politics: Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson has called on members of the new Independent Group of MPs to work with the Liberal Democrats to “change our country for the better”.

Eight Labour MPs and three Tories have quit their parties to join the new group, and Ms Swinson said there could now be a massive opportunity to fix the UK’s “broken” politics.

Speaking about the formation of the breakaway group, the Lib Dem deputy leader said: “I think that this could change politics, and I am someone who wants to change politics.

“I’m excited about it.”

She used her keynote address to the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Hamilton to make a pitch to the politicians who have left the Conservatives and Labour.

Ms Swinson told them: “You are disrupting the broken political system and, as liberals, we are excited by this change.

“We share your desire to shake-up the status quo, to challenge those in power who are failing our country.”

Those MPs have “made a difficult, bold and important move”, Ms Swinson said.

She urged them: “We need to ditch the outdated, tribal, two-party model. We need a better way of doing politics for a modern, liberal society.

“So let’s fight together on the liberal values we share. Let’s campaign together on the issues we care about. Let’s work together to change our country for the better.”

Following her speech, Ms Swinson said her party agrees with the new group of MPs on “a lot of stuff in terms of the biggest issue facing our country at the moment, which is Brexit”.

She added: “What is exciting to me as a Lib Dem is this is about looking at how to do politics differently.

“What we have at the moment is broken, we absolutely agree on that, and so disruption and shaking it up is something that as a Lib Dem I massively welcome.”

She said she knows of other MPs who are “unhappy” within their parties.

“It’s kind of impossible to be in Westminster and chat to people and not come across people from those main parties who are desperately unhappy,” she said.

“For some of them that has already resulted in them leaving the party and setting up or joining the Independent Group, and there are others who are probably wrestling with what they do.

“It’s really early days but this is clearly a notable development in our politics, and there hasn’t been something of this nature in my political life.

“It is clearer now to more people in the country that that two-party system is broken, so I think there is an appetite for change, which the Liberal Democrats have always wanted and always argued for.

“I do think we should innovate and find new ways to work together, and that tribal way of doing politics doesn’t seem to me to really fit with where the public mood is at.”

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