‘When I say Bollocks to Brexit, I Mean it’: New Leader of Liberal Democrats Vows to Keep Britain In EU

Jo Swinson
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Britain’s Liberal Democrat party elected a new leader Monday, with the successful candidate using her first messages to party members to promise that she would be doing everything in her power to prevent the United Kingdom from leaving the European Union.

Jo Swinson became the first female leader of the Liberal Democrats Monday, when she took 62 per cent of 76,429 members’ votes cast in the leadership ballot against Sir Ed Davey.

She lost absolutely no time making clear what her leadership would be about, using her acceptance speech to set herself strongly against the democratically expressed will of the British people in 2016 that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. Swinson told her audience: “In the face of nationalism, populism, the catastrophe of Brexit, the two old parties have failed.

“We believe the UK’s best future is as members of the EU, and that’s why as your leader, I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit.”

Writing to party members shortly afterwards, Swinson hit a very similar if slightly coarser note when she told paid-up Liberal Democrats: “When I say Bollocks to Brexit I mean it. This isn’t a normal political issue – this is about the fundamental direction of our country for generations to Brexit, in any form, is a disaster for our country and we’ll do everything in our power to stop it.”

While most UK political parties publicly accepted that while they may not have wanted Britain to leave the EU it was clear that the British people wanted to, the Liberal Democrats spotted a gap in the market for an avowedly anti-Brexit political force. Seeing off Europhilic competition from the chaotic and gaffe-prone Independent Group, the Liberal Democrats now campaign predominantly on two new slogans — “Stop Brexit” and “Bollocks to Brexit”, depending on the intended audience — and have grown their vote share.

This strategy paid off in the recent European Union parliament elections when they came second to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. With 19 per cent of the vote, the Liberal Democrats gained 15 seats, behind Brexit’s 29 seats — catapulting the newly formed Eurosceptic party into the position of being the single largest political party in the European Union.

The Liberal Democrats were once a powerful force in British politics, being one of the two main parties through Georgian and Victorian eras alongside the Conservatives before they were displaced by the Labour Party in the early 20th century. Although they only hold 12 of the 650 seats in the British House of Commons, they did enjoy a brief period of importance during the 2010-2015 parliament when their party entered into a coalition with the centrist Conservatives under David Cameron.

Meanwhile, voting has closed on the Conservative leadership competition, a position that brings with it under the present makeup of Parliament the position of Prime Minister. The winner will be revealed on Tuesday, and the successful candidate is due to become the Prime Minister the following day.

Boris Johnson is widely expected to win the race, and it is anticipated that he will clear out the top of government to replace ministers with his own picks, but some have acted preemptively, quitting government in advance of the vote being announced. Breitbart London reported Alan Duncan resigning from cabinet Monday, so he could actively work against a Boris Johnson government from the word go. Others including chancellor Philip Hammond and David Gauke are expected to follow.

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