Lib Dems suffer a bruising night as the party fails to make gains

PUBLISHED: 05:41 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 05:41 13 December 2019

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson poses in front of the wings taken from her party's logo during a visit to a volunteer hub in London. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson poses in front of the wings taken from her party's logo during a visit to a volunteer hub in London. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

When the Lib Dems pushed for an election they were hoping that it would produce a parliamentary majority for a second referendum.

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Instead it has seen the anti-Brexit party go backwards after its messaging failed to gain traction with the electorate, and its leader, Jo Swinson, lost her seat to the Scottish National Party.

She was not the only scalp claimed in a night of shockwaves for the Lib Dems.

A number of the party's leading lights failed in their bids to win seats.

It was at around 3.45am that the news came that Swinson had lost her constituency - Dunbartonshire East - to the SNP, by a narrow margin.

The SNP's candidate Amy Callaghan won the constituency by just 149 votes.

Callaghan received 19,672 votes to Swinson's 19,523.

In a speech after the result was announced, Swinson said: "Let me say now, for millions of people in our country these results will bring dread and dismay and people are looking for hope."

Less than an hour earlier, it had been announced that Umunna, who had been tipped as a future Lib Dem leader, would not become MP for Westminster.

He was standing in the constituency having moved from his previous seat of Streatham.

The seat was won by Conservative Nickie Aiken, who received 17,049 votes, while Umunna received 13,096.

Originally a Labour MP who stood for the party leadership in 2015, Umunna pulled out of the race due to increased scrutiny of his family.

In February, he defected to become a founding member of the Independent Group, before joining the Lib Dems in the summer.

Elsewhere in London, Gyimah, a former Conservative universities minister, was standing for the Lib Dems in Kensington, but came third.

The seat was won by Tory candidate Felicity Buchan with 16,768 votes, while Gyimah received 9,312.

In second place was Labour candidate Emma Dent Coad who had 16,618 votes.

Luciana Berger failed to win the constituency of Finchley and Golders Green.

The seat was won by Conservative candidate Mike Freer with 24,162 votes to Berger's 17,600.

Like Umunna, Berger had previously been a Labour MP, resigning to become a co-founder of the Independent Group, and then joining the Lib Dems in September.

In Totnes, another recent Lib Dem recruit, Sarah Wollaston, failed to hold on to her seat.

The constituency was held by the Conservatives.

Dr Wollaston was the Conservative MP for the seat, she switched to the Independent Group before joining the Liberal Democrats in August.

The Tory candidate in this election, Anthony Mangall, held the constituency with 27,752 votes, while as Lib Dem candidate, Dr Wollaston received 15,027.

As the night was wrapping up, the party's Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake also lost his seat to the Tories.

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