United Kingdom

Jo Swinson says she won't put Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street

brexit countdown_bgCreated with Sketch.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has said she would not put either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, but did not rule out another Lib Dem coalition in the future.  

The new party leader said she was bidding to win an unlikely Lib Dem majority at the next election, which would require a gain of hundreds of seats. 

She also said her party would not stand down to help Labour try to unseat Mr Johnson in his west London constituency - saying that Mr Corbyn was in favour of delivering Brexit while the Lib Dems have now pledged to cancel it altogether. 

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today she promised that 'Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be put into Number 10 with Liberal Democrat votes.'

Marr asked her: 'There will be no rerun of the Rose Garden scenes with Nick Clegg and David Cameron, you will not do a coalition again?' 

Ms Swinson replied: 'Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are not fit to be Prime Minister. We see that day in day out. I want to build an open inclusive and fair society and they do not.' 

Her reply leaves open the possibility of another Lib Dem coalition with different party leaders in the future, although she did not say with whom she would be willing to work. 

The Lib Dems were badly punished by voters for their role in the 2010-15 coalition, suffering a series of electoral thrashings which they are still recovering from.  

Jo Swinson (pictured in London today) said she was bidding to win an unlikely Lib Dem majority at the next election, which would require a gain of hundreds of seats 

Ms Swinson's refusal to back Mr Corbyn even as an interim Prime Minister has already scuppered Labour's plans for a 'government of national unity' to delay Brexit. 

However, the party leaders have since worked together on the cross-party Remainer effort to postpone Britain's exit until 2020. 

'There is another way forward because it is not good enough for the people of this country to be told that they have to choose between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn,' she said today. 

'Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be put into Number 10 with Liberal Democrat votes, right, because he is not fit for that position. And the country deserves better. And we can make sure that the country can have a better future.' 

She also refused to say whether she would back specific Labour policies such as renationalisation of the water industry. 

Asked about possible pacts with other parties at the next election, she suggested her party might work with other pro-Remain forces such as Plaid Cymru in Wales. 

But she said the Lib Dems would not stand down to help Labour try and unseat Boris Johnson in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

The Lib Dems will also stand against moderate Tory champion Rory Stewart in his Penrith and the Border constituency, she said.  

Ms Swinson said she would not help Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) become PM and said her party would not stand down to help Labour unseat Boris Johnson in west London 

Marr also asked her whether her party was now a 'soft Tory' party with new recruits such as Sam Gyimah and Philip Lee from the Conservative benches. 

'What I'm leading is an exciting movement that our country desperately needs,' she insisted. 

At their Bournemouth conference the Lib Dems set out their stall as the home of Remainers today as the party agreed to campaign to stop Brexit entirely if it wins the next election.

Delegates at the party conference this afternoon voted overwhelmingly to support a motion to revoke Article 50 if it takes power.

The move would stop Brexit in its tracks without the need for a second referendum. 

Ms Swinson's party was previously campaigning for a second Brexit referendum, but it has now pivoted to out-and-out support for ignoring the 2016 referendum. 

The motion says a Liberal Democrat majority government would be 'recognised as an unequivocal mandate to revoke Article 50 and for the UK to stay in the EU'.

'The policy we are debating at conference today is very clear,' Ms Swinson told Marr Show.

'If the Liberal Democrats win a majority at the next election, if people put into government, as a majority government, the ''Stop Brexit'' party, then stopping Brexit is exactly what people will get. Yes, we will revoke Article 50.'  

Delegates at the party conference in Bournemouth this afternoon voted overwhelmingly to support a motion to revoke Article 50 if it takes power

James Cleverly, chairman of the Conservative Party, predicted the Lib Dem stance would lead to 'more delay, division and uncertainty'.

'Despite calling herself a 'democrat', Jo Swinson's mask has slipped and we now know that she wants to overrule one of the largest democratic votes in British history, cancelling Brexit,' said the Braintree MP.   

The Lib Dems are enjoying a revival on Ms Swinson's watch, having seen a host of MPs defect to her party with its clear stance on Britain's relationship with Brussels.

Mr Gyimah, a former Tory minister, became the sixth MP to switch allegiance to the party this year and some polling companies predict the Lib Dems could take as much as a fifth of the vote at the next election - up from just seven per cent in 2017. 

East Dunbartonshire MP Ms Swinson added: 'We have argued that a specific Brexit deal should be put to a People's Vote to give clarity.

'We still argue for that. But if we end up at a general election then I think we need to be straight forward with people and give them an option for all this Brexit chaos to stop.

'I recognise not everyone agrees with the Lib Dems on this. (But) it is genuinely what we think is right for the country.' 

Ex-party leader Sir Vince Cable predicted at the conference today (pictured) more MPs would defect from major parties to join the Lib Dems, and accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of treating Brexit 'cynically'.

James Cleverly (left) blasted the Lib Dems for trying to ignore the Brexit vote, hours after former Tory leadership contender Sam Gyimah (right) defected to Jo Swinson's party

At the conference former leader Sir Vince Cable predicted more MPs would defect from major parties to join the Lib Dems, and accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of treating Brexit 'cynically'.

He said: 'For three years Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have cynically sat on the fence on the biggest issue of our generation.

'They believe that membership of the EU is just a side issue, a distraction from the class struggle, a capitalist project of no great interest. A generation of young people in particular has been betrayed.

'That, and the Labour Party's ugly intolerance and anti-Semitism, have brought us the considerable talents of Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Angela Smith to complement Sarah Wollaston, Philip Lee and Sam Gyimah from the other side of the aisle.

'Within the next few weeks and months I hope and expect that the trickle from both sides will become a flood. Something big is happening here.'