Jo Swinson refuses to rule out future deal with Tories or Labour

Liberal Democrat leadership contender Jo Swinson has said she would not rule out a future deal with the Conservatives or Labour.

The Lib Dem deputy leader, who is running against Sir Ed Davey to succeed Sir Vince Cable in the party’s top job, said there is no immediate prospect of becoming allied with either the Tories and Labour currently as both are “led by Brexiters”.

In a interview with The Herald newspaper, she said: “I have not said never in any future scenario, where things are different.

“I’m looking at the situation right now in terms of being led by Brexiters on both sides.

“The same holds for confidence and supply. We need to stop Brexit and work with people who agree with us on that, and that’s not the leadership of the Conservatives or the Labour Party.”

Ms Swinson, who would become the first female leader of the Lib Dems if she wins the leadership race, believes the party has its best chance to fundamentally change British politics.

“We have had in our history of the Liberal Democrats and predecessor parties, various points at which it has been tantalising close to totally breaking the mould of British politics; during the 1980s,” she said.

“We have an even better opportunity now and that’s what we absolutely do need to grab hold of.”

The 39-year-old said this is “ambitious” and she does not “underestimate” the challenge of the Lib Dems needing to boost their 12 MPs by 300 to form the next government.

In the wide-ranging interview, Ms Swinson also addressed the issue of Scottish independence, claiming the SNP does not have a mandate for a second independence referendum as the 2014 ballot, based on the nationalists’ vision outlined in the white paper Scotland’s Future, was rejected.

Her leadership rival claimed the “SNP is not either for the Scottish people or the United Kingdom”.

Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey said his prospects have not been damaged by his coalition role (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Speaking on the BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Sir Ed Davey said: “We reject nationalism per se. We believe think it divides people unnecessarily.

“That’s why we believe that the SNP is not good either for the Scottish people or for the United Kingdom, and we believe Britain should stay in the EU.”

Questioned if his leadership prospects have been damaged by his prominent role in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, during which he was Energy Secretary, the Kingston and Surbiton MP said this was not the case.

He said: “No, because I fought the Tories day in, day out.

“We stopped them putting even heavier welfare cuts, we stopped them cutting education.”

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