- Jo Swinson beat Ed Davey in the race to succeed Vince Cable as the leader of the Liberal Democrats.
- Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, won on Monday by 47,997 votes to 28,021.
- She said she was “over the moon” and would do everything she can to stop Brexit.
- The anti-Brexit party has experienced a surge in support, buoyed by Remain voters who are disillusioned with the Labour Party’s message on Brexit.
LONDON – Jo Swinson has been elected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, replacing Sir Vince Cable.
The results of the leadership contest were announced on Monday afternoon, with Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, comfortably beating Ed Davey, the former energy secretary, by 47,997 votes to 28,021.
Swinson said she was “delighted, honoured, absolutely over the moon to stand before you as the leader of the Liberal Democrats.”
She added: “Liberalism is alive and thriving. In the face of nationalism, populism, the catastrophe of Brexit, the two old parties have failed.
“Our party has been clear on Brexit from Day One. We believe the UK’s best future is as members of the European Union, and that’s why, as your leader, I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit.”
She will replace Cable at a time when the party, which has 12 MPs in the House of Commons, is experiencing a surge of support from Remain voters, many of whom have abandoned support for the Labour Party.
The Liberal Democrats placed second in May’s European Parliament elections, ahead of both the governing Conservative Party and Labour. They’re polling at as much as 20%.
Swinson, first elected to the House of Commons in 2005, was Westminster’s youngest MP – the “baby of the House” – until 2009.
When the Lib Dems went into coalition with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives, she served as a parliamentary undersecretary of state in the business department, later becoming a junior equalities minister.
She has played a major role in the anti-Brexit movement and is a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a new referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union.
Swinson has emphasised the importance of leading a new liberal movement, not just a single party.
Last month she told Business Insider that she was not a “tribal politician” and was best placed to win “new voters across generations” and across “traditional party lines,” as well as more MPs from other parties.
“I was down at the Donald Trump protest last week, and several people came up to me and said they had joined the Lib Dems as a result of seeing me on ‘Question Time,'” she told Business Insider. “It is working.”
Anti-Brexit campaigners welcomed Swinson’s victory.
“We welcome the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson,” said Naomi Smith, the CEO of Best for Britain.
“She has already pledged to work with other parties to ensure a Remain Alliance against Boris Johnson’s new government is built, taking our work in Brecon and Radnorshire to the rest of the country.
“Stopping Brexit will require the focus and energy of the country’s biggest and boldest politicians. Jo is absolutely one of them, and we look forward to working with her even more closely in the future to stop Brexit.”