Jo Swinson defeats Ed Davey to become the new Liberal Democrat leader

Posted On: 
22nd July 2019

Jo Swinson has been elected the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Jo Swinson becomes the Lib Dems' first female leader.
Credit: 
PA

The party's deputy leader defeated rival Sir Ed Davey in the race to succeed Sir Vince Cable.

Ms Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, received 47,997 votes, comfortably ahead of her rival on 28,021.

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She said: "I am delighted, honoured and over the moon to stand before you as the leader of the Liberal Democrats - the first woman to lead our party.

"When I joined the Liberal Democrats at 17, I never imagined that I would one day have the honour of leading our great party.

"I want to pay tribute to Ed for giving us the robust but friendly contest our members deserve. Ed is a great friend and a superb politician, and will have a crucial role to play in our team.

"I also want to thank Vince Cable for the leadership he showed in taking our clear stop Brexit message to voters, which led to our best ever set of local and European election results.

"Tomorrow, Boris Johnson is likely to take the keys to Number 10 and set us on a path to a damaging no-deal Brexit. Stopping Boris, and stopping Brexit is my number one priority as leader."

Ms Swinson takes over at a time when the Lib Dems are on the up, having enjoyed successful local and European elections earlier this year.

But within minutes of her victory being confirmed, Labour and the SNP both attacked her for her part in the coalition government with the Conservatives.

Labour chair Ian Lavery said: “Jo Swinson sat at the top table of the coalition government and voted for vicious attacks on the most vulnerable and tax cuts for the super-rich and big businesses.  

“Austerity couldn’t have happened without Liberal Democrats – leading to shocking levels of child poverty, the tripling of tuition fees, a homelessness crisis and rising food bank use.”

And the SNP MP Mhairi Black said: “Jo Swinson was one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for the Tory coalition government.

“She must move quickly to apologise for the devastating cuts she imposed, and rule out any future Tory pact - if she wants anyone to believe the Lib Dems have changed their ways.”

She added: "Everyone knows the Lib Dems can't be trusted. They would go into coalition all over again in exchange for ministerial salaries and benefits.

“People in Scotland haven't forgotten, which is why the Tory-lite party is still tanking in the polls and have been stuck in a distant fourth place for almost a decade."

Ms Swinson takes over from Sir Vince after he announced he was standing down in May, claiming he was handing over the reins of a "bigger, stronger party".

In an email to party members, he said: "There are major challenges ahead. One is to win, finally, the battle to stop Brexit. Our campaigning has given hope; now we need to secure a referendum in Parliament, and then win it.

"Another is the opportunity created by the conflict and decay within the two main parties to build a powerful, liberal, green, and social democratic force in the centre ground of British politics. We are now in an excellent position to lead such a movement.

"As we do so, I am confident that we will regain ground at Westminster, with a big group of MPs and real influence on the national stage."