Liberal Democrats have ‘changed the debate’ on Brexit, Rennie claims

The Liberal Democrats have “changed the debate” in the election campaign, according to the party’s leader in Scotland.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Willie Rennie said the party pushed the idea of stopping Brexit into the political fore in a way no-one else has.

In what has proven a bruising campaign for his party with poll numbers dropping, Mr Rennie said the Lib Dems have forced other parties to shift their position.

Pointing specifically to Labour Party policy on Brexit in recent years, Mr Rennie believes it was the influence of the Lib Dems that made a second Brexit referendum an option for the party.

He said: “We’ve changed the nature of British politics in the last three years by making it possible to have a People’s Vote and it’s now firmly a credible option in this election.

“We’ve already had an impact and I think we can make it stop. The Liberal Democrats were castigated at the beginning. We were lone voices and we battled away.

“In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn was simply saying he would do a Brexit deal. That party in itself has moved away from that.

“We’ve changed the nature of the campaign, we’ve changed the nature of the discussion and the conclusion of this has got to be more and more Liberal Democrats to be able to stop Brexit.”

General Election 2019
General Election 2019

At the outset of the campaign, the Liberal Democrats insisted they were going to stop Brexit by gaining a majority and making Jo Swinson Prime Minister.

In the final few weeks of electioneering the party appears to have moved away from that stance but Mr Rennie insisted they have not softened their position.

He said: “I’m not a psephologist, I’m not into predicting where things are going to go but all I know is that Jo Swinson is our candidate to be Prime Minister.

“Compare her with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, she’s a far superior candidate – I think a lot of people would accept that even if they didn’t necessarily agree with her positions.

“She’s much more professional, disciplined, organised. She’s able to reach out to far more people than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, who are the two worst people you could imagine in a national crisis.

“She’s a good proposition and the voters have got to decide whether they want that or not and if they want it they’ve got to vote for us.”

Mr Rennie added his party is one of optimism.

He said: “It’s our nature. If you’re a liberal you do believe in the ability of people to do great things with powers in their hand.

“We’re not a pessimistic party who sees fear around every corner. We see the hope.

“We’re people who believe in the country and what we can do. That’s a great thing to have.”