‘Lib Dems could win in a general election’, says Jo Swinson

Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Jo Swinson said she thinks the party could win the keys to Number 10 in the event of a general election.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme on Sunday, Ms Swinson said that she would not want to put any limits on the party’s ambitions.

The current deputy leader of the party, Ms Swinson is standing against Ed Davey to succeed Vince Cable as the new leader of the party.

In response to a question on whether the Lib Dems could potentially provide support for a future government, Ms Swinson said: “We could be better than kingmakers, there was a poll out yesterday that said we could actually, in one scenario, win that election with 30% of the vote.”

When asked whether she thinks she could become prime minister in the event of a general election, Ms Swinson said: “Yes. I think our politics are volatile at the moment, I think predictions are a bit of a mug’s game in politics.

“I do not put any limit on our ambitions for the Liberal Democrats because our country needs a liberal alternative.”

Ms Swinson also said that she is hopeful that there will be further MP defections to the Lib Dems, following Chuka Umunna’s move from Change UK.

She said: “I do have conversations, they’re private conversations.

“But I think in order for people to be able to talk frankly about what is a difficult step if somebody’s thinking about joining a new political party, then those need to be able to be kept private.”

The Lib Dem leadership hopeful also said that she would be “open minded” about working with other parties.

She said: “Of course in some of the challenges that we face, we need to work with others to achieve it.

“The campaign for a People’s Vote is a great example.

“Liberal Democrats have been leading the way on that particular issue, but we’ve also been working with others cross-party to deliver that goal and I think it’s important that we continue to do that.”

On the question of whether the party would consider not standing candidates for certain seats in order to ensure that pro-remain candidates are elected, Ms Swinson said that the party should remain open to the possibility of doing so.

“I think we have to be open minded to that, particularly given the threats that our country faces,” said Ms Swinson.

“This is about what is the right thing for our country and if you look at what is on offer from Boris Johnson, whether he ends up doing some kind of deal with Nigel Farage, that places our country in serious threat.

“So at the last election, we didn’t stand in Brighton Pavilion against Caroline Lucas, these are decisions that are rightly made locally, but I think that we should be open minded to how we do that to be able so stop Brexit and be able to create the positive, liberal alternative for our country.”

Chuka Umunna
Chuka Umunna joined the Lib Dems, having previously been an MP for Change UK and the Labour Party (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Swinson also criticised Tory leadership candidate Boris Johnson, who she said has provided no detail on renegotiating a Brexit deal with the EU.

“Boris actually doesn’t really care about anything but himself,” said Ms Swinson.

“He didn’t care about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, he said he felt anguish, showed no evidence of it whatsoever in the way in which he hadn’t even bothered to read his brief when he was appearing in front of a select committee and you had that woman languishing in an Iranian jail, separated from her young daughter.

“I mean, he just doesn’t care.

“He doesn’t care about our economy – he said ‘F business’ – well at least it’s honest because his plans for Brexit will F business.

“He’s sitting there merrily spinning absolute fantasy suggesting there’s going to be some kind of renegotiation and there’s no detail from him.

“He does not deserve to be prime minister.”

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