Jo Swinson tells Boris Johnson: Being a woman is not a weakness

Posted On: 
17th September 2019

Jo Swinson has told Boris Johnson that being a woman is not a sign of "weakness" as she said she is ready to take him and Jeremy Corbyn on at the general election.

Jo Swinson closed the Liberal Democrats' conference in Bournemouth
Credit: 
PA Images

The Lib Dem leader said it was "rather revealing" that the Prime Minister thought that calling someone a "girl" was a term of abuse.

Documents released at the Court of Session in Edinburgh revealed that Mr Johnson had described former PM David Cameron as a "girly swot" in a note to his advisers.

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And during Commons clashes, he called Labour leader Mr Corbyn "a big girl's blouse".

In her keynote speech closing the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth, Ms Swinson said: "Boris Johnson’s insults of choice are rather revealing - big girl’s blouse, girly swot.

"But let me tell you conference, if he thinks being a woman is somehow a weakness. He’s about to find out: it is not.

When the general election comes, I cannot wait to take on the collective forces of nationalism and populism that will be standing on that debate stage - Johnson, Farage and Corbyn."

Elswhere in her speech, Ms Swinson compared a no-deal Brexit to setting fire to your house.

She said that government documents warning of possible food and medicine shortages in the event of the UK leaving without an agreement "tells us how bad it’s going to be".

"The truth is, you can’t plan for no-deal," she said. "Planning for no-deal is like planning to burn your house down.

"You might have insurance, but you’re still going to lose all your stuff."

WELLBEING

Ms Swinson also announced that her party would base its policy plans on how they would affect the "wellbeing" of people and the planet.

She said that her party will follow New Zealand's example of creating a wellbeing budget that would "rethink" the purpose of the UK economy.

"We have been conditioned to believe that as long as GDP keeps growing, everything is fine," she said.

"But this ignores the reality behind the numbers. That the social contract is broken – that working hard and playing by the rules is no longer enough to guarantee a better life.

"That our planet is at breaking point. GDP measures how often we replace our clothes, our cars and our computers, how many Young Offenders Institutions we build for children without hope, how much diesel pollutes our air and damages our lungs.

"When it comes to GDP, Bobby Kennedy was spot on fifty years ago. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

“That’s why a Liberal Democrat government will put the wellbeing of people and our planet at the heart of what we do.”

She added: “I want us to fundamentally rethink the purpose of our economy. So that it works for people and our planet.

“Our wellbeing budget will spell out priorities for public spending on the things that matter most – both right now and for future generations.”

The party hopes to publish details of the new budget’s spending areas this autumn.

It is understood the policy would create a similar institution to the Office of Budget Responsibility to monitor wellbeing.

Meanwhile, the leader also turned to the party’s climate change ambitions to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, with plans to bring back a Green Investment Bank, set up a citizens’ assembly and introduce climate risk reporting.

The speech comes at the end of the party’s conference where members decided to revoke Article 50 if the Liberal Democrats win the next election

Former Conservative minister Sam Gyimah was also revealed as the party’s newest MP.

She said: “The tired old parties have failed. Looking inward at a time of national crisis.

“Our country needs us, at this precarious time.

“Let me be clear, there is no limit to my ambition for our party. And today I am standing here as your candidate for Prime Minister.”