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Jo Swinson hints woman should replace her as Lib Dem leader after losing seat in general election

Swinson lost her seat to the SNP in East Dunbartonshire overnight.

Swinson reacts as she loses her East Dumbartonshire constituency, during the count at the Leisuredome, Bishopbriggs.
Swinson reacts as she loses her East Dumbartonshire constituency, during the count at the Leisuredome, Bishopbriggs.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Dec 13th 2019, 5:29 PM

JO SWINSON HAS indicated that she wants to see a woman replace her as the leader of the Liberal Democrats after she lost her seat overnight in the UK general election.

Ed Davey and Sal Brinton will take over as joint-interim leaders.

In a speech in central London following a dismal night for her party, Swinson name-checked several re-elected MPs, including education spokeswoman Layla Moran and home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine, who had the “experience” to succeed her.

She said that “smashing the glass ceiling” by becoming the party’s first female leader had meant “a lot of broken glass comes down on your head”.

An emotional Swinson said: “I’m proud to be the first woman to lead the Liberal Democrats and I’m even more proud that I will not be the last.

Several high-profile Lib Dems lost their seat this election including Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna. Swinson herself was ousted in East Dunbartonshire by the SNP’s Amy Callaghan, who took just 149 votes more.

“In Sarah (Olney), Wera (Hobhouse), Christine and Layla, we have four fantastic and experienced women MPs,” Swinson said. 

“And in Daisy (Cooper) and Munira (Wilson) and Wendy (Chamberlain), we have exciting new talent. They will take the Commons by storm.”

Wilson held former leader Vince Cable’s Twickenham seat after he stepped down from the Commons and Cooper made a Lib Dem gain in St Albans against the Conservatives, while Chamberlain took Fife North East from the SNP.

Lib Dem rules say the party leader must be a sitting MP.

Following Swinson’s defeat to the SNP in East Dunbartonshire, deputy leader Sir Ed Davey and party president Baroness Brinton took over on an interim basis, with a leadership contest scheduled for the new year.

Bookmaker Coral made Sir Ed the favourite to succeed, offering odds of 11-10 to replace the woman who beat him in the leadership race in July.

- Additional reporting from PA

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Sean Murray

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