Jo Swinson has won a clear victory to be named the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, making her the official successor to outgoing leader Vince Cable.
The 100,500+ membership took part in a record turn-out ballot on Monday to select between Jo Swinson and Ed Davey. The two candidates traversed the country through the last few months attending hustings events in an attempt to win over votes from the party membership.
Ed Davey, who at one time was a target for recruitment by Mi6, put climate change and environmental politics the centre-piece of his campaign as well as highlighting his history as Energy Secretary during the coalition government with the Conservatives from 2010 – 2015.
He also claimed Britain should adopt a “green capitalism” economic model and “being tough” on banks, the stock exchange, and on pension funds, to ensure that they consider climate change.
Ultimately, this was not enough to counter Jo Swinson, who conversely came across a more youthful and modern leader, untarnished by some of the more controversial legacy of the Cameron/Clegg coalition government, such as the reneging on their election promise not to raise tuition fees.
Davey also apologised for comments saying a "remain alliance" would "decapitate" the blond head of Boris Johnson.
Mrs Swinson previously said that the ascension of Boris Johnson to the role of Prime Minister would be a serious recruiting advert for the Lib Dem.
She claimed that the only “silver lining” to a Boris Johnson victory in the Tory Leadership elections, the results of which will be announced on Tuesday, is that the Lib Dems could see a surge in support in response to a Brexiteer PM.
Since the 2016 EU referendum, the Liberal Democrats have attempted to position themselves as the major pro-EU party, calling for a second referendum on the final deal with the alternative option to remain in the EU.
This stance gave them significant electoral success seeing a 19% increase in the 2019 local elections and overtaking Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party for second place with 20% in the EU elections.
Vince Cable promised to hand over a "bigger, stronger party" to his successor. The Liberal Democrats currently have 12 seats in parliament.
Mrs Swinson posted her appreciation for her predecessor on Twitter before the election results were announced.
Before we find out who will lead @LibDems next, I want to thank @vincecable for all that he has done as our Leader over the last two years. He has been the voice of reason in unreasonable times & led our party to our best ever local & European election results. Thank you, Vince. pic.twitter.com/HFt3mNkiug— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) July 22, 2019
The new leader will hope to continue to capitalise on disillusioned remain voters in Labour and Tory held constituencies at the next General Election.
Mr Swinson and her former opponent did not however, rule out a coalition deal with Labour on the basis that the agreement include a second EU referendum, a position which Labour themselves have since adopted, and would be happy to work with any party advocating for a remain option.
This comes amid rumours of a potential Boris Johnson/Farage ‘Brexit Pact’ at the next General election, indicating a parliamentary shift to reflect the electorate’s divided feelings towards Brexit as the central issue.
Netizens were split over the announcement of the results
Some Twitter users reacted to the late streaming of the announcement, referencing their legacy in government.
It’s 1605 and the Lib Dems still haven’t announced their new leader. Another broken Lib Dem promise.— Dylan (@dylanhm) July 22, 2019