On Andrew Marr, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson hints at a betrayal worse than tuition fees

Jo Swinson
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Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson hinted at a betrayal worse than tuition fees on the 15 September edition of the Andrew Marr Show.

Cashing in on Remain for votes?

Speaking to Marr, Swinson refused to rule out another coalition with the Conservative government, despite its hard-Brexit stance. The exchange will fuel suspicions that the Lib Dems’ support for Remain is predominantly an opportunistic vote-winning strategy.


Marr asked:

the result of the next election is the Conservatives lose their majority, but Labour are the largest party, and you are the next largest party. In those circumstances you have said you will never go into coalition with them. There’ll be no re-run of the rose garden scenes with Nick Clegg and David Cameron: you will not do a coalition again.

But, in response, Swinson dodged the question:

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are not fit to be prime minister.

Later, Marr pressed her specifically on whether the Lib Dems would support a Labour government. And she said:

Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be put onto Number 10 with Liberal Democrat votes.

That suggests the Lib Dems would not even support a Labour government in a confidence and supply arrangement. But at the same time, they didn’t rule out backing the Conservatives in a formal coalition, instead saying:

I want to build an open and fair society, and they do not.

Given the Lib Dems have been hard-lining for Remain, that could spell a betrayal as bad as tuition fees.

In 2010, the Lib Dems literally signed pledges not to support an increase in university fees. But then the majority of Lib Dem MPs – including current leader Swinson and then-leader Clegg – voted through the increase in coalition with the Conservatives:

The Lib Dems’ worrying history on Brexit

People have long suspected that the Lib Dems are predominantly hard-lining for Remain to win votes. As soon as Labour adamantly pledged to offer a second referendum if it wins an election, the Lib Dems pivoted to supporting outright revoking Article 50 (the Brexit process).

Beyond the rhetoric, the Lib Dems have only pushed the UK towards a no-deal Brexit. Other than Norman Lamb MP, the Lib Dems voted down Ken Clarke’s proposition for a soft-Brexit customs union compromise back in March. It lost by just three votes. If it had passed, that could have avoided a Johnson government and unified parliament on a soft-Brexit compromise that polling has shown 60% of the public support.

Nonetheless, the Lib Dems later backed Clarke as prime minister for the leader of a possible interim-government that would be committed to delivering a soft-Brexit. The Lib Dems flagship policy is supposed to be opposing Brexit, yet there’s no consistency.

By contrast, Corbyn’s Labour supported all the compromise motions to either soften or have a confirmatory vote on Brexit, short of outright revoking Article 50.

On top of that, in July 2018, two of the Lib Dem’s most prominent MPs – Tim Farron and then-leader Vince Cable – both missed a crucial Brexit vote on a customs union, which the Tory government then won by just three votes. Farron later apologised.

The Lib Dems themselves also promised an EU referendum (in the event of further EU integration) in their 2015 manifesto and then voted Cameron’s proposal for the 2016 poll through parliament.

More betrayal?

It looks like the Lib Dems could end up supporting the Conservatives in a coalition. That would be the ultimate continuation of their opportunistic pro-Remain posturing for votes. And it certainly wouldn’t be out of step with their previous betrayals on tuition fees and austerity.

Featured image via BBC Iplayer

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  • Show Comments
    1. How much more evidence do we need to prove that All political parties are more concerned with keeping the others out, and harvesting power for themselves than the actual needs of this nation?

      Do they not all spend and waste far too much money, our money, on attaining and keeping power for themselves, than for the smooth running of our Nations infrastructure?

      Even the MSM unwittingly agree when they focus on Jeremy Corbyn (an individual) that he is different because he wants to put power back into our hands, adopting a caretaker role as opposed to a despotic role. It’s not Labour that has been told it will never be allowed to be in power, it is Jeremy Corbyn personally.

      It is why, in the current climate, JC is the only political candidate who has actual democratic intentions and that has been proven by his history. The others, several in Labour to, are all too concerned with their own positions and keeping the corrupt system the way it is.

      We need a new system pronto, and I think Jeremy Corbyn (or a revolution … our choice really) is the only, and the best option to achieve this. I’m with John Bercow on this point, we need a proper constitution, but more than that we need a new system of politics that focuses on the Nation, not on political party shenanigans which are deeply divisive and damaging to the cohesion and structure of our National society, and local communities.

      We need, as a nation, to remake our rules regarding those we put in an oversight position, that they cannot flout the will of the democratic people of the UK with impunity, that we can sack badly performing people from every governmental position in short order, and that the police have the authority to arrest those in those positions as easily as they can arrest anyone of us for criminality, particularly criminality engaged in whilst in office.

      If those we vote into those positions do well, they should be allowed to continue in those positions, so in other words no more 5 year terms, just you’re in if the majority vote for it, you stay in if you do a good job, and you’re out, maybe even jailed, if you do a bad or a criminal level job.

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