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Jo Swinson reaches out to Independent Group of Labour and Tory splitters

Jo Swinson - PA

Jo Swinson reaches out to Independent Group of Labour and Tory splitters

Deputy Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has used her speech at the Scottish Lib Dem conference to reach out to the new Independent Group of MSPs, inviting them to “work together to change our country for the better”.

Speaking at her party’s 2019 spring conference, the East Dunbartonshire MP warned that “our politics is broken”, adding “people are crying out for a vision for the future of our country that is open, outward-looking, internationalist and pluralist”.

Speaking in Hamilton, Swinson called for cross-party efforts to stop the UK leaving the EU.

She said: “Every form of Brexit will make us poorer. It will put jobs at risk And it will weaken us on the global stage. Brexit can, and must, be stopped. Time is running out. This is the time for hard work and real action. More than ever, we need every single one of you, in this room and beyond, to join our fight.”

Launched on Monday, 11 MPs have now resigned from Labour and the Tories to form the Independent Group, with the group citing opposition to their party’s positions on Brexit alongside concern over Conservative welfare policy and Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour.

Closing the first day of the Scottish Lib Dem conference, Swinson used her appearance to attempt to build bridges with the new group, though she said it was too early to specify exactly how the two groups might function together in practice.

She said: “I say to the new Independent Group MPs: you have made a difficult, bold and important move. You are disrupting the broken political system and as liberals, we are excited by this change.

“We share your desire to shake up the status quo, to challenge those in power who are failing our country.

“We need to ditch the outdated, tribal, two-party model. We need a better way of doing politics for a modern, liberal society.

“So let’s fight together on the liberal values we share. Let’s campaign together on the issues we care about. Let’s work together to change our country for the better.

“You’ve experienced enough petty tribalism from your own former parties. You won’t get it from us. In the Liberal Democrats, you’ll find allies. Together, we can change our country for the better.”

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