Jo Swinson hints woman should replace her as Lib Dem leader

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Jo Swinson has indicated she wants to see a woman replace her as leader of the Liberal Democrats, after she lost her seat at the General Election.

In a speech in central London following a dismal night for her party, Ms Swinson name-checked several re-elected MPs, including education spokeswoman Layla Moran and home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine, who had the “experience” to succeed her.

She said that “smashing the glass ceiling” by becoming the party’s first female leader had meant “a lot of broken glass comes down on your head”.

“In Sarah (Olney), Wera (Hobhouse), Christine and Layla, we have four fantastic and experienced women MPs.

“And in Daisy (Cooper) and Munira (Wilson) and Wendy (Chamberlain), we have exciting new talent.

“They will take the Commons by storm.”

Ms Wilson held former leader Vince Cable’s Twickenham seat after he stepped down from the Commons.

Ms Cooper made a Lib Dem gain in St Albans against the Conservatives, while Ms Chamberlain took Fife North East from the SNP.

Lib Dem rules say the party leader must be a sitting MP.

Following Ms Swinson’s defeat to the SNP in East Dunbartonshire, deputy leader Sir Ed Davey and party president Baroness Brinton took over on an interim basis, with a leadership contest scheduled for the new year.

Bookmaker Coral made Sir Ed the favourite to succeed, offering odds of 11-10 to replace the woman who beat him in the leadership race in July.

Layla Moran
Layla Moran was name-checked as a possible successor by Jo Swinson (Aaron Chown/PA)

Former coalition minister Ms Swinson said she had been “devastated” by the election results, in which her party took just 11 seats, down by one on the party’s 2017 showing at the polls.

But she said she did not “regret trying” to be the “unapologetic voice of Remain” and “giving people the chance to choose to stop Brexit”.

Ms Swinson said she would continue to be involved with the party that she has been campaigning for since she was a teenager.

“Though I won’t be your leader, I will be walking alongside you,” said the Scot.

“We will reflect, regroup and refresh.”

Having seen a Brexit-backing Conservative Party and nationalists SNP make gains at the election, she warned of a “resurgent nationalism” in the country and urged the party to “foster hope”.

She added: “All of us who share an alternative vision for society have a responsibility to learn from these results and find new answers.

“Next week is the shortest day – we will see more light in the future.”

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