Jo Swinson: Remainers need to get out of our echo chambers and change our language

PUBLISHED: 12:48 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:42 19 March 2018

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson

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Remainers need to get out of their echo chambers and stop "wrapping ourselves up in the European Union flag" to win over Leave voters, Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson told a Brexit conference today.

She told the 'Should I Star or Should I Go' conference in central London that she was "concerned that we find ourselves in an increasingly divided society" and that fellow Remain supporters needed to "reach out of our own echo chambers if we are to heal society and also to stop Brexit".

Ms Swinson told the conference for EU citizens living in the UK: "We are in real danger of creating our own echo chambers as we respond to the Brexit vote... it can be very London-centric, it can be very city-centric.

"And in reality wrapping ourselves up in the European Union flag, while it might make ourselves feel better, is not going to change people's minds - the people whose minds in particular we need to change.

"So I think we need to reach out."

Ms Swinson said that she sometimes saw "sweeping generalisations being made about all Leave voters and sometimes those debates being conducted without the respect that I think is essential".

She added: "And we need to listen in person to people who voted differently to ourselves and try to understand what those motivations are, and not assume that that makes them a bad person intrinsically because they happen to come to a different judgement.

"I think this is important in having a cohesive society. But I also think it's important if we're going to stop Brexit.

"I do believe it is still possible to stop Brexit.

"There is not much time, but it is still possible... we need some people who voted Leave to change their minds, to think again, to consider that perhaps the judgement that they came to two years ago, in the light of new information, is not the same judgement as they might make again today."

Earlier in her speech Ms Swinson said that Remainers needed to change the language in which they talked about the benefits of the EU if they were going to win over previous Leave voters to their cause.

She said: "Language is important. The way in which we might talk about the benefits of the European Union to liberals would include the values of diversity and how positive it is to have those new ideas and to have that change going forward. And that works when you're talking to liberal-minded people.

"But if people have a different world view, if they have a more conservative outlook, those exciting ideas of change are not going to feel something that's positive, they might feel it;s something more threatening."

She also mocked Jeremy Corbyn supporters who spent much of the weekend accusing the BBC of photoshopping the Labour leader's hat. Divides in society, she said, had created accusations of bias "where the BBC can be accused of photoshopping hats and suchlike".

Also due to speak at the conference today are Chuka Umunna, Sir Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas, AC Grayling and Gina Miller.

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