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Speech by Jo Swinson Leader of the Liberal Democrats

August 15, 2019 3:15 PM

Jo Swinson MP - leader of the liberal democrats

"I stand ready to work with anyone to stop Boris Johnson and his hard-line Brexit government"

to read Jo Swinson full speech click here

Jo Swinson new Lib Dem leader

In her first main speech since becoming leader Jo Swinson MP stood alongside new Lib Dem MP

Sarah WollastonSarah Wollaston and made it clear that she would work with all parties to stop Brexit including supporting a 'vote of confidence' but any plan for a temporary leader of an 'emergency government' had to command the confidence of the House something she doubted the Opposition Leader would be able to achieve, based upon his record on Brexit.

"I am determined to do whatever it takes to stop Brexit, and the Liberal Democrats will continue to lead the Remain cause, as the strongest, and most consistent party arguing that our best future is in the European Union".

"In just eleven weeks, however, our country faces an immediate crisis: crashing out of the EU without any deal. The most cavalier and catastrophic of Brexit: putting at risk hundreds of thousands of jobs, public services including our NHS, and even our national security.

So in this moment of national emergency, I stand ready to work with anyone to stop Boris Johnson and his hard-line Brexit government.

Despite saying that No Deal was a million to one chance, that is clearly the destination Boris Johnson is headed towards".

Jo went on to say:

"There is no majority in the country for crashing out of the European Union without a deal. And there is no majority in Parliament either".

Jo continued:

"When Parliament returns, if MPs choose, we can pass a law to stop us crashing out of the EU on 31st of October.

This is the time for MPs to stand and be counted. Just saying "No to No Deal", is not enough.

As well as willing the end, MPs must be prepared to will the means.

That means agreeing a tangible route to prevent No Deal, and how to guarantee it.

I believe the best way to prevent No Deal, is to request an extension of Article 50 for the purpose of holding a People's Vote, so the public can have the final say on the Brexit deal".

Jo added

"Other MPs might make the case for alternative ways to prevent No Deal, though the options are limited.

The key thing, and a hugely positive thing, is that MPs from different parties are working together over the summer to determine the best way forward to avoid a No Deal catastrophe.

We will need to be resolute, too, in how we guarantee this.

Boris Johnson, and those around him, have made clear they are prepared to rip up convention and traditional rules to impose their will. Whether it's threatening to shut down our democratic institutions, or fixing the date of the next election, nothing seems off limits. Could we even be sure that Boris Johnson would comply with any law passed by Parliament to stop No Deal?

To be certain, we need to have the option of removing the Prime Minister.

That means winning a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson, and within 14 days installing an emergency Government with an alternative Prime Minister who has the confidence of the House and will stop a No Deal Brexit.

That vote of no confidence would have to be triggered by Jeremy Corbyn - because as Leader of the Opposition, he is the only one with the power to do it.

Yesterday he wrote to me and other party leaders to say he would table a vote of no confidence to form a time-limited government to call a General Election, with him as Prime Minister.

In my first week as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I called on Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence in the government.

And I asked him to table it before summer recess, because that was the only way to be sure we could hold an election before crashing out on 31st of October.

Time and time again, Jeremy Corbyn has let the Government off the hook on Brexit.

On thirty-one key Brexit votes, he has either asked his MPs to sit on their hands or marched them through the voting lobby side by side with the Government.

And now instead of doing everything in his power to stop us from crashing out, he's demanding the keys to Number 10 as a pre-condition for a vote of no confidence.

We are facing a national crisis. We may need an emergency government to resolve it. But if Jeremy Corbyn truly wants that to succeed, surely even he can see that he cannot lead it.

There is no way he can unite rebel Conservatives and independents to stop Boris Johnson. It's not even certain he would secure the votes of Labour MPs.

This isn't about personalities, this is about a plan that actually works.

What we need in a leader of an emergency government is a long-serving Member of Parliament who is respected on both sides of the House.

Someone like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman, the Father and Mother of the House".

Jo Swinson concluded by saying:

"When Parliament returns in September, I call on all MPs who want to stop a no deal Brexit to put our ambitions and differences aside, work together and actually stop it. We can do this.

And I do want to be clear where the Liberal Democrats stand. As a party, we don't just want to stop a no deal Brexit.

Because there is no form of Brexit that will be good for our country.

The best deal we could get is the one we already have, as members of the European Union.

We believe that future generations should enjoy the same opportunities that we did - to live, work and fall in love in 27 other countries.

We believe that in the face of terrorism and the climate emergency, we must work with our closest allies, not shun them.

We believe that our best chance to build a richer, greener and safer future is if we stay together as a strong U.K family of nations in the European Union.

And my message to those out there who agree with us is simple.

There is a battle going on for the future of our country and I want you by my side".



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