Jo Swinson has been asked whether her refusal to work with Jeremy Corbyn is endangering the Remain cause in the service of her career.
The Liberal Democrat leader said that she was open to working with people from all parties if it meant stopping Brexit, but reiterated her refusal to support putting Corbyn in power because she is “genuinely appalled” by his handling of reports of anti-Semitism within his party.
She framed the cause of remaining within the EU and standing up for Jewish people as part of the same wider endeavour of equality for all.
Speaking to caller Funmi on BBC Radio 5 Live, she said: “I’m very open to and have been working with people from all different parties on this issue of stopping Brexit,” she said, pointing out she had worked with MPs from numerous parties to do so this year.
WATCH: Jo Swinson says bill for second Brexit referendum is ‘ready to go’“I have been very outspoken about Jeremy Corbyn and I think that is important because the differences I have with Jeremy Corbyn are not just a policy difference. I’m genuinely appalled with his total failure to deal with issues of anti-Semitism.”
WATCH: Jo Swinson signals she could work with Labour if Jeremy Corbyn quitsThe caller, who she agreed with Swinson’s stance on anti-Semitism, followed up by asking the Lib Dem leader which of these outcomes is the biggest risk when she has staked her career on Brexit being “the absolute worst thing to ever happen”.
“I think they’re the same thing, the same issue,” said Swinson. “Why do I want to remain in the EU – it’s not because of some sort of love of EU institutions or some geeky fascination with the intricacies of European parliament processes. I want to remain in the European Union because of the kind of country that I want us to be.
“I want us to be open and inclusive and outward-looking and working with others. I want us to be standing up for the values of equality and human rights, and to me our membership of the European Union not only guarantees much of that – it’s a fundamental underpinning.”
However, host Rachel Burden pointed out: “You’re effectively saying ‘vote for us to be part of a coalition,” but Swinson denied a coalition is the only outcome of that situation, emphasising that the election is not a done deal but both of the main party leaders were setting out to gain majorities.
“If we end up in a scenario where there is no majority, I don’t think it’s a safe assumption that both of those leaders remain in their parties,” she said.