The big Lib Dem mistake was not to focus on the Tories

Former Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images.

Former Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A series of spectacularly bad choices from Jo Swinson and the Lib Dem leadership sealed our fate.

Capitulating to Boris Johnson's demand for an early election was the first folly. Abandoning the wider Remain Alliance and the People's Vote movement was the second, betraying all prospect of a second referendum.

Following it up with a gratuitous smack in the teeth to Labour Remainers by ruling out any deal to support a Corbyn government was the third. Like many Lib Dems, I would have infinitely preferred a Corbyn-led minority Government to the disaster we now have. At least Corbyn would have given us a referendum!

Finally, having comprehensively thrown away the cause of a People's Vote, Swinson formed her campaign around Brexit, while failing to articulate a single positive reason why we should stay in the EU. If the general election was to be her substitute for a second referendum, with Labour on the sidelines, what excuse did she have for making the campaign even more fatally uninspiring than 2016?

There was nothing intrinsically wrong or unconstitutional in declaring she would withdraw Article 50, but why did she need to say it? It was a legitimate programme aim, but it exposed a fatal weakness; she was forced to admit that it would only happen if there was a Lib Dem majority in parliament, and she was the only one who believed that could happen. Her credibility never recovered.

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Why campaign against Labour Remainers? It was ridiculous from the start. It gained us nothing and cost them dearly. Now we are all the losers.

Gary Locock

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