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Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats

Jo Swinson: a positive future for Britain

June 19, 2019 9:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

My number one priority as leader would be stopping Brexit. It should be the number one goal of everyone in our party.

It's why I've worked so hard as the leading Liberal Democrat in the People's Vote campaign to bring together a group of like-minded MPs who want to give the British people the final say.

It's why I work cross-party with MPs from all parties, and indeed none, to discuss how we can get the numbers in Parliament over the line.

It's why I campaigned up and down the country for local councillors and European candidates on a clear message to stop Brexit and was so proud of the excellent election results that you all worked so hard to deliver.

We have to give the people who have voted for us, many for the first time, because of our honest and principled Brexit stance, a reason to stick with us in the long-term.

But the question I also think the next leader of this party needs to answer is when we've stopped Brexit, what next? How do we take the energy, enthusiasm and support our Brexit stance has brought us and use it as a springboard to take us forward?

The cynics in the media constantly ask what will happen to our support when Brexit is done. Will it simply evaporate and leave us back down at single digits in the polls? My answer is always the same. We have to give the people who have voted for us, many for the first time, because of our honest and principled Brexit stance, a reason to stick with us in the long-term.

And there are plenty of good reasons. We only need to look at the other parties to see why a strong Liberal Democrat party is so vital.

The man who is the favourite to be the next Prime Minister is the same man who compares Muslim women to letterboxes, and the leader of the opposition refuses to tackle vile, anti-semitic abuse in his own party. There are millions of people who find those views abhorrent and are looking to us as the liberal voice in illiberal times.

We only need to look at the other parties to see why a strong Liberal Democrat party is so vital.

I believe that our party can be the heart of a movement that says no to Brexit, but also paints a positive vision of the future beyond that fight.

A future where we take urgent action on the climate emergency, for example by investing much more in renewable energy and building zero-carbon homes; a future where we harness the technological revolution to make it work for us; and a future where we reshape our economic system so that it values wellbeing alongside GDP.

I want to lead the Liberal Democrats to stop Brexit. But movements are built not simply on being against something, but being for something as well. There is a huge opportunity at our fingertips to transform our society and our economy, and if we work together we can grasp it and take the party, and the country, forward. I hope you'll support me.