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4 November 2019

There is not going to be a Remain Alliance in Scotland

While the Liberal Democrats, Greens, Plaid Cymru and Independent Conservatives might work together in England and Wales, it’s a different story north of the border.  

By George Grylls

Over the weekend Jo Swinson confirmed that the Liberal Democrats were considering a Remain Alliance pact between parties opposed to Brexit. In August the Liberal Democrats won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election after Plaid Cymru and the Greens decided to stand down their candidates. This success could now be a template for the general election.

In reality, there are only a few seats where this might make a difference. Ceredigion in Wales is one, where Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake has a majority of 104 votes over the Liberal Democrats. In Beaconsfield, the Liberal Democrats hope to lend their 4,448 votes to Dominic Grieve. 

But, while the Liberal Democrats might be happy to help out the Welsh nationalists and the handful of Conservative renegades, they will not work with the SNP because it’s manifestly not in their interests. The Liberal Democrats have high hopes of regaining some of the 11 seats they held in Scotland until 2015. Some obvious targets include the UK’s most marginal seat of North East Fife, and Ian Blackford’s seat of Ross, Skye and Lochaber. On an extremely good night, senior party figures are even speculating whether or not they might take the university town of Stirling, whose students they hope have forgotten the Liberal Democrats’ record in coalition. That is a perhaps overly ambitious, but having a Scottish leader in Jo Swinson will help.

Interestingly, Christine Jardine, one of only four current Liberal Democrat MPs in Scotland chose today to tweet against the SNP’s signature policy. 

Despite working together on the Benn-Burt Act, and thwarting the Prime Minister’s first two attempts to call an election, the Liberal Democrats will not be co-operating with the SNP any time soon. After all, there is no love lost between the two parties. Jo Swinson herself briefly lost her seat of East Dunbartonshire to the SNP in 2015.

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