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Swinson open to pro-remain election pacts, but rules out deal with Labour

The Liberal Democrat leader said her party would not stand down in any seats for Labour candidates.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson was speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson was speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme (Jonathan Brady/PA)

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Jo Swinson has said the Liberal Democrats are in talks with other parties about standing aside in certain seats at the next general election to ensure that pro-remain candidates are elected.

However, the Liberal Democrat leader ruled out the prospect of the party standing down for Labour candidates.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Swinson said that such an agreement had worked well previously, including in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election last month where Jane Dodds was elected as a new MP for the party.

Labour are not a remain party, Labour are trying to deliver a Labour Brexit Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson

“There was obviously success for that kind of arrangement in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election,” said Ms Swinson.

“Plaid Cymru and the Green Party stood aside, stood shoulder to shoulder if you like, with the Liberal Democrats and Jane Dodds was elected to be a very unequivocal voice in Parliament for remain. So, that happened already and it’s successful.”

Asked whether the party would stand aside for Labour candidates, the Lib Dem leader said: “That’s a different question because Labour are not a remain party, Labour are trying to deliver a Labour Brexit.

“But where we agree with others on stopping Brexit, we are in those discussions.

Ms Swinson added: “They (Labour) want to deliver a Labour Brexit, they’ve been very clear about that, they’ve said they’re not a remain party.

“I’m a Liberal Democrat, I’m about stopping Brexit, I’m about keeping our place in the European Union, so I want to make sure that people have the choice to vote for a remain candidate who will stop Brexit and therefore, standing down for Labour doesn’t achieve that.

“In the discussions that are happening about remain parties working together – that’s remain parties where there might be some electoral alliances – that’s parties that actually want to remain and of course that doesn’t include the Labour party, but in most places the biggest and strongest party of remain will be the Liberal Democrats.”

The East Dunbartonshire MP also reiterated her stance that she would look to revoke Article 50 if elected as prime minister.

“As Liberal Democrats, we are absolutely clear – we’re an internationalist party, we think our best future is in the EU and we will argue that we should stop Brexit and that if a majority Liberal Democrat government is elected, we will revoke Article 50,” said Ms Swinson.

“We’re talking about circumstances where we have just won a majority Liberal Democrat government on the explicit pledge and promise to revoke Article 50.

“In those circumstances, if we did come to power and I was prime minister having stood on a platform of revoking Article 50 and then didn’t do so, that would be problematic.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Jo Swinson has just enthusiastically welcomed into her party ex-Tory MPs who voted for cut after cut in government – having propped up the Conservatives for five years in coalition.

“There’s only one way to get rid of Boris Johnson and his disastrous no-deal Brexit, and that’s to vote for Labour candidates and elect a Labour government.”

PA

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