Jo Swinson’s campaign to be ‘next PM’ ends with narrow loss of her own seat

Jo Swinson began the Liberal Democrats’ election campaign with the claim she could be the next prime minister, but in the end she could not even hold her own seat.

The MP for East Dunbartonshire wanted to be known as leader of the self-styled “Remain Alliance” of anti-Brexit parties after taking the controversial policy stance that the Lib Dems would kill any attempt at EU withdrawal without the need for another referendum.

Ms Swinson, 39, became her party’s first female leader in a landslide victory over Sir Ed Davey earlier this year, after the lacklustre leaderships of Tim Farron and Sir Vince Cable.

Jo Swinson took over from Sir Vince Cable Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

She had served as a minister in the coalition Government and was among the party’s MPs who paid the price for the tie-up with David Cameron’s Tories in the 2015 election bloodbath – which saw the Lib Dems reduced to a rump of just eight in the Commons.

Ms Swinson fought back when prime minister Theresa May called another election in 2017, regaining her Scottish seat from the SNP.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson with her baby Gabriel Credit: PA

Ms Swinson also made history when she became the first MP to take her baby into a Commons debate when she took her second son Gabriel into a discussion on proxy voting in September 2018.

The former public relations specialist married ex-Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames, who lost his seat at the 2015 general election, in 2011.

She was made a CBE for political and public service, and has has also written abook, Equal Power.

While the Liberal Democrats started the General Election campaign strongly, Ms Swinson soon attracted criticism from some quarters both for the policy of revoking Brexit and for her previous record in coalition government.

Some critics branded her as coming across as a bit preachy, and ultimately her style failed to cut through with voters – including in her own constituency where she has narrowly lost to the SNP.