Jo Swinson hints a woman should replace her as Lib Dem leader

PUBLISHED: 16:05 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:18 13 December 2019

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson reacts as she loses her East Dumbartonshire constituency. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson reacts as she loses her East Dumbartonshire constituency. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Jo Swinson has suggested that a female MP should replace her as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

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In a speech in central London following a dismal night for her party,Ms Swinson name-checked several re-elected MPs, including education spokeswoman Layla Moran and home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine, who had the "experience" to succeed her.

She said that "smashing the glass ceiling" by becoming the party's first female leader had meant "a lot of broken glass comes down on your head".

An emotional Swinson said: "I'm proud to be the first woman to lead the Liberal Democrats and I'm even more proud that I will not be the last.

"In Sarah (Olney), Wera (Hobhouse), Christine and Layla, we have four fantastic and experienced women MPs.

"And in Daisy (Cooper) and Munira (Wilson) and Wendy (Chamberlain), we have exciting new talent.

"They will take the Commons by storm."

Wilson held former leader Vince Cable's Twickenham seat after he stepped down from the Commons.

Cooper made a Lib Dem gain in St Albans against the Conservatives, while Chamberlain took Fife North East from the SNP.

Lib Dem rules say the party leader must be a sitting MP.

Following Swinson's defeat to the SNP in East Dunbartonshire, deputy leader Sir Ed Davey and party president Baroness Brinton took over on an interim basis, with a leadership contest scheduled for the new year.

Bookmaker Coral made Sir Ed the favourite to succeed, offering odds of 11-10 to replace the woman who beat him in the leadership race in July.

Moran, increasing her Oxford West and Abingdon majority from 800 to almost 9,000, is second in the race to succeed Swinson, and environment spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse is third favourite, according to Coral.

Former coalition minister Swinson said she had been "devastated" by the election results, in which her party took just 11 seats, down by one on the party's 2017 showing at the polls.

But she said she did not "regret trying" to be the "unapologetic voice of Remain" and "giving people the chance to choose to stop Brexit".

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