Blessing in Disguise

BY ALEXIA JAMES

Jo Swinson is annoying. Her squawking is annoying. Her hardline remainiac position is annoying. Her chatting with the EU behind the back of the British Government is beyond annoying. However, it’s pretty clear already, only months into her leadership of the Liberal Democrats, that – for Brexiteers at least – she’s a blessing in disguise. Rather than splitting the Tory vote at an upcoming General Election, Swinson is far more likely to appear as an option like Corbyn – as an unappealing slice of fruitcake – and push voters towards the only game in town, that of Brexit-backing Boris.

Swinson’s extremist Remain position is so far out that many of those who voted Remain in the EU Referendum see her calls for “Revoke” as fanatical. Even her calls for another referendum are met by a similar wall of unpopularity. Only the hardcore Continuity Remain of Brits, peaking at 18%, want a referendum and most would agree that having a referendum before the result of one has been enacted is dangerous for democracy. Even the SNP argue that they have had five years to test the result of one referendum and that is now long enough to request another. We’ve not even left the EU yet. Swinson’s stance threatens civil war, some say, but she cannot possibly understand this beyond her EU funded husband and the Westminster bubble.

Swinson promoting Harriet Harman as caretaker PM and refusing to work with Jeremy Corbyn has been a massive bonus for the Tories and Brexit. This has wound up the likes of Momentum and their mouthpieces such as Evolve Media and The Canary are replete with anti-Swinson stories, referring to Harman as a warmonger and the Lib Dems as Blue Liberals. The hashtag #YellowTories is doing the rounds. Having Chuka Umunna sitting alongside her as a Lib Dem has Labour ‘s front bench spitting tacks and the Hard Left are now lambasting the Liberal Democrats as Blairites. She cannot win.

Swinson’s excuse for not working with Jeremy Corbyn was that if Corbyn was installed as caretaker PM then Tory rebels would not be brought across to support anti no deal efforts. This logic is sound but, even better for Brexiteers, her position made it impossible for the likes of Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve to bridge the gap – her refusal to play ball with Corbyn meant they were never given the choice in the first place. If no deal Brexit now somehow happens, it will be enabled by Swinson’s ambition buoyed by the hatreds of her Blairites.

Would a more radical Liberal Democrat leader have agreed to get into bed with Corbyn over Brexit? One can argue that Paddy Ashdown would possibly not have associated with Corbyn but the likes of Charles Kennedy may well have gone for it.

So, next time you Brexiteers hear Swinson whining and squawking like a trapped crow, think what you could have won. The alternatives could have been calamitous.