Jo Swinson says general election currently the only way to stop Brexit

PUBLISHED: 19:47 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 20:03 28 October 2019

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson during the election debate ahead of the vote in the House of Commons, London. Photograph: House of Commons/PA.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson during the election debate ahead of the vote in the House of Commons, London. Photograph: House of Commons/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

A general election is needed to stop the prime minister forcing through a 'bad Brexit deal' if there is not enough support in parliament for a people's vote, Jo Swinson has said.

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The Liberal Democrat leader told the Commons MPs must "find a path" to resolve the current impasse.

She said while she would "dearly wish" there was enough support in parliament for a people's vote, an election could be the best way forward.

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She said: "We need to see the path forward, and if it is not going to be through a people's vote, if there is not the support for a people's vote in this parliament, then we need to look at the other way to do that, and right now that is through having a general election."

But Independent Group for Change MP Anna Soubry said: "This is not the time for a general election, but it is time for a people's vote and it's within our grasp."

Swinson disagreed, telling the former Tory MP: "I say to her I dearly wish it were the case that we were at a majority situation for a people's vote."

She added: "But in the absence of that support being clearly demonstrated then we have to act, we cannot just wait, because my fear is that either the government pushes ahead with their Withdrawal Bill and it is delivered and delivers Brexit on the back of Labour votes, or that we end up in January, a couple of weeks away from the deadline of crashing out without a deal, and find ourselves in the same precarious position.

MORE: Opposition parties accuse Lib Dems of 'giving up' on People's Vote

"But that time the EU say I'm sorry we've extended, we've extended again, and we cannot keep doing so if you do not find a path to resolve this."

Swinson said MPs should consider allowing younger people to have a vote in "all different elections", and warned that "crashing out" of the EU would put young people's futures in doubt.

She said: "I have campaigned for votes at 16 from the moment I came into this House. We have votes at 16 for most elections in Scotland.

"It works well, the sky has not fallen in, and I think that those should be introduced for elections across the House and across all different elections."

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