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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has lost her seat of East Dunbartonshire by fewer than 150 votes, with her decision to back Boris Johnson’s bid for a general election backfiring spectacularly.
She won 19,523 votes, coming an extremely close second to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan on 19,672. Swinson had perhaps ill-advisedly boasted in election literature that she would become the UK’s next prime minister.
It was an extremely close fight, with turnout in the seat soaring to 80%.
Swinson had been leader since July, the party’s first female premier. Her exit will trigger the Liberal Democrats’ fourth leadership race in five years.
Perhaps ironically, securing the backing of the Lib Dems and the SNP had been crucial for Boris Johnson in getting the general election voted through the Commons.
Addressing her supporters at the count, Swinson said: “For millions of people in our country, these results will bring dread and dismay, and people are looking for hope. I still believe that we as a country can be warm and generous, inclusive and open, and that by working together with out nearest neighbours we can achieve so much more.”
She added: “Some will be celebrating the wave of nationalism that is sweeping on both sides of the border.
“And I do congratulate all those who are newly elected.”
Likely addressing her status as leader, she said: “These are very significant results for the future of our country and I will be making further remarks later today.”
The MP has lost East Dunbartonshire once before: in 2015, again to the SNP. She won it back in 2017.
Her party was set to remain stable on 13 seats after gaining Richmond Park from the Tories’ Zac Goldsmith, but its bold “revoke Article 50” policy did not broadly appear to have cut through with voters.