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20 November 2019updated 08 Jun 2021 11:04am

Jo Swinson has lost her seat – and the Lib Dems will need a new leader

By Stephen Bush

Jo Swinson has been defeated in East Dunbartonshire, losing her seat to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan. It means that the Liberal Democrats will have to elect a new leader – from an almost entirely new parliamentary party. 

It caps off a disappointing night for the party, who hoped to deprive the Conservatives of a parliamentary majority, but were defeated not only in Swinson’s seat but have lost both North Norfolk and Eastbourne. Retirements, coupled with expected further losses in Scotland, means that the next leader will be drawn from a largely neophyte parliamentary party. 

The likely candidates will be Layla Moran and Ed Davey, the latter of whom ran unsuccessfully against Swinson earlier this year. But their prospects for success will rest on the number of second-place finishes that the party picks up tonight – and whether Swinson’s successor can succeed where she and Tim Farron both fell short: in unpicking the electoral damage to the Liberal Democrats of their participation in coalition.

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