The new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, has categorically rejected the possibility of allying with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the event of a general election, suggesting that he secretly wants to leave the European Union and cannot be trusted.
Speaking in the event that a general election might culminate in a hung parliament, Miss Swinson said on the BBC’s flagship Today Programme that, “there is nothing to suggest Jeremy Corbyn can be trusted on Brexit or that he will campaign to remain.”
“Let’s remember in the last referendum he went on holiday for two weeks in the middle of it. Forgive me for not believing Jeremy Corbyn’s newly mouthed words on Brexit. He can barely bring himself to say the words people’s vote. I’m not supporting Jeremy Corbyn. If we are to have an election I would fight as [the] Lib Dem leader as the party of remain that hasn’t equivocated like Jeremy Corbyn, ” she added.
Labour however has since stepped in to correct Swinson on at least one of her comments during the interview.
Despite ruling out a pact with Labour, Miss Swinson has not committed to taking the same position toward the governing Conservative Party. In fact, according to reports, she is actively courting a number of ‘centrist’ Conservatives to defect over to the Liberal Democrats, saying during her BBC interview that, “[o]ur door is absolutely open to people who share our values.”
Miss Swinson was this week elected by the Liberal Democrats’ 100,500 plus membership after seeing of her challenger, Ed Davey. As the party’s first female leader, Swinson secured 47,997 votes against Davey, who won just 28,021.
Our new Leader @joswinson is ready to work across party and lead the fight to stop Brexit.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) 23 July 2019
You can be part of that fight by joining our campaign here 👇 https://t.co/Mp2XkNrVFV pic.twitter.com/3h1DZnVB5C
In a barely-veiled attempt to cast her party as the Remainer’s choice, Miss Swinson declared at her victory speech that she will do “whatever it takes to stop Brexit.” She added that the UK’s decision to vote for Brexit in 2016 represented a “retreat” from the political planet, and a challenge to “liberal values and fundamental freedoms.”
"We champion freedom - but Brexit will mean the next generation is less free to live, work and love across Europe. We value openness - but Britain is in retreat, pulling up the drawbridge,” Miss Swinson declared.
There are however, some who might challenge Swinson’s characterisation of her politics as progressive.
So @joswinson on @BBCr4today making it clear she would only go into coalition with @UKLabour if @jeremycorbyn was removed as leader. I suppose that would be to make it easier for her to push the neo-liberal policies she backed in coalition with the Tories.— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) 23 July 2019
Ian Lavery, the Labour Party chair, launched a scathing verbal attack on the new Lib Dem leader this week, saying that, “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 big businesses. Austerity couldn’t have happened without the Liberal Democrats…”