Jo Swinson MP has been elected the new leader of the Liberal Democrats after winning almost two-thirds of the votes cast by members. She takes over from Sir Vince Cable MP who had been in the post for two years and has led the party to its best set of local election results and led the campaign that saw 16 MEPs elected in the recent European elections.
Mrs Swinson is the first woman to hold the role of leader of the Liberal Democrats. At 39 years of age, she is also the youngest current leader of a major party in the United Kingdom. The Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire since 2017, having previously held the seat between 2005 and 2015, she served as Business Minister during the Conservative-LibDem coalition.
In her speech following her election she said she was “delighted, honoured, absolutely over the moon to stand before you as the leader of the Liberal Democrats” and reaffirmed that under her leadership she will “do whatever it takes to Stop Brexit” because the UK’s best future is as members of the European Union.
"It’s the Liberal Democrats who can lead the renewal our country needs. Together, we can build a better future”, she added and referring to the incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn: “any party that can’t decide where it stands on the biggest issue facing our country in generations, doesn’t deserve my time, and doesn’t deserve your vote. We need a Prime Minister who will rise to the challenges we face, not hide away from them. So I stand before you today, not as just as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, but as a candidate for Prime Minister. There is no limit to my ambition for our party and for our movement. I am ready to take our party into a general election and win it.”
She paid tribute to Sir Vince, saying he was “the voice of reason in these unreasonable times”. “Vince, you have served our party and our country with distinction for decades,” she said, “from your sage warnings before the financial crash, to your work rebuilding our economy as Business Secretary, you have been a constant source of wisdom. And as Leader of our party you have led a transformation in our fortunes.”
She ended with an appeal for tempted voters to stop “shouting at the television” and sign up. “If you want an economy that works for people and for our planet. If you want to build a richer, greener and safer future. If you want to keep our family of nations united. The answer is simple. Come, join us. Let’s do this. Let’s do this together.”
Since her election, more than 5,000 new members have joined the Liberal Democrats.
You can read the full speech of Mrs Swinson here: libdems.org.uk/swinson-new-leader-speech