Jo Swinson confirms Lib Dem leadership bid as UK poll shows party in first place

Jo Swinson. Picture: PA Wire
Jo Swinson. Picture: PA Wire
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Scottish MP Jo Swinson has confirmed her bid to stand for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats - as a poll showed the party was the top choice for voters in the UK.

Ms Swinson has said that she will combat 'populism and nationalism' if she is elected to leader the party - which is buoyant after impressive poll ratings and a stunning second place finish across the UK in last week's European Elections.

READ MORE: Swinson given boost after potential challenger withdraws

The East Dunbartonshire MP will face competition from former Energy Minister Ed Davey in the race to succeed Sir Vince Cable, who will stand down on July 23.

Ms Swinson was a junior Business Minister in the Lib Dem / Conservative Coalition of 2010-15, and lost her seat to John Nicolson amid the SNP wave that swept Scotland in 2015.

The current Deputy Liberal Democrat deputy leader won the seat back from Mr Nicolson with a majority of just over 5,000 at the snap general election in 2017.

She was expected to stand for the leadership in 2017 after the resignation of Tim Farron, but implied that she was not yet ready for the role, allowing Mr Cable to run unopposed.

The Liberal Democrats are enjoying something of a renaissance following their post-coalition wilderness years, coming second in the European elections, adding 15 seats and securing a vote share of around 20 per cent.

READ MORE: Vince Cable: Lib Dems profiting from anti-Brexit mood

A shock poll for the Times newspaper by YouGov showed the Lib Dems on 24%, ahead of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party on 22% and the Tories and Labour neck and neck on 19%.

Announcing her leadership bid on the BBC's Question Time, Ms Swinson said: "I happen to think that this country is crying out for a liberal movement that will challenge the forces of nationalism and populism, and the Liberal Democrats need to be at the heart of that movement and I'm the person to lead it."

Ms Swinson is the favourite to lead the party, which currently has ten MPs, but will face stiff competition from Mr Davey, who has made an eye-catching pledge to use parliamentary rules involving the Queen to halt a no-deal Brexit.

Nominations for the Lib Dem leadership close on June 7, the same day the contest to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader and Prime Minister officially begins.