Jo Swinson Claims Labour And Tory MPs Want Her To Be Prime Minister

Lib Dem leader kicks off campaign with battle bus tour of Tory marginals. "I hope the fun is going to happen."

Jo Swinson has a bus with a giant picture of her face on it. “It’s a different level of weird,” she admits. “In a good way.”

It might not be subtle. Or realistic. But the Lib Dems are pushing hard the idea their leader has a chance of becoming prime minister.

On day one of the general election campaign, Swinson embarked on a swing through marginal Tory seats. In all three, it was Labour that came second in 2017, not the Lib Dems.

In Finchley and Golders Green, the Lib Dems are running ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in front of the party battle bus after a visit to Sigma Pharmaceuticals in North Watford, London.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in front of the party battle bus after a visit to Sigma Pharmaceuticals in North Watford, London.
PA Wire/PA Images

Anger at Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism his more nuanced Brexit position are being relied on to boost Lib Dem chances in the north London seat.

A poll showed Berger was eight-points clear of incumbent Tory Mike Freer.

A few miles north of the capital in the commuter town of Watford, Richard Harrington, who was stripped of the Tory whip for voting to block a no-deal, is standing down.

And in leafy Esher and Walton in Surrey, the party is mounting an audacious bid to oust Dominic Raab. The foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer is sitting on a majority of 23,298.

Jo Swinson on the first official day of campaigning.
Jo Swinson on the first official day of campaigning.
PA Wire/PA Images

Swinson’s bus, which has “Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats” emblazoned in huge letters across it, is somewhat reminiscent of Theresa May’s 2017 effort which boldly promoted “Theresa May For Britain”.

The Lib Dems will be hoping their campaign does not suffer a similar failure to meet expectations. Exceptions set by themselves.

The party points to its European election surge, as well as recent polling, to claim its hopes of winning “hundreds” of new MPs, while ambitious, is not dishonest or delusional.

Speaking to reporters on her battle bus as it whizzed around the M25, Swinson claimed it was “entirely feasible” more Tory and Labour MPs would choose to join her party if it achieved a “breakthrough” on December 12.

“I have also had MPs from both those parties saying to me that they think I would be a better prime minister than Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson,” she said.

“There will be people very excited to see Lib Dems winning more seats - and that includes people in other parties.”

“The Labour Party is lost,” Swinson said. “One Nation Conservatives are in utter dismay at the direction Boris Johnson is taking their party.”

Boosted by the rolling out of defecting MPs over the past few weeks, Swinson said there is a “buzz” in the party membership that had been missing in recent years.

“This is a really good time to be knocking on the doors as a Lib Dem,” she said. “It’s really lovely to feel the party like this again.

“It’s probably fair to say we went through a period when there didn’t quite feel such a sense of optimism amongst our activists.”

One Lib Dem source has said the party will pursue a Willie Rennie strategy at this election at this election.

The Scottish Lib Dem leader is renowned for using photo-friendly stunts to keep him in the headlines.

In Finchley on Wednesday morning, as Swinson completed her first campaign stop of the day, she found herself holding a baby. A classic of the electioneering genre.

“I did not kiss the baby,” Swinson later insisted. “I cuddled the baby.” Turning to an aide, she added jokingly: “I think fun is going to be the order of the day. A heavy dose of fun. That was the instructions I gave. I hope the fun is going to happen.”


What's Hot