Brexiteers are 'insular, closed and selfish' says Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lashed out at 'insular, closed and selfish' Brexiteers today as she branded Brexit ''the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain'.

In her maiden leadership speech she tore into 'entitled Etonian' Boris Johnson and '1970s socialist' Jeremy Corbyn over their positions on the UK's departure from the EU.  

She accused the Prime Minister of acting like a 'socialist dictator' over Brexit by shutting down dissent and 'purging' his opponents in the Conservative party. 

But it came after she and her party were themselves accused of being undemocratic, after they voted overwhelmingly to revoke Article 50 and halt Brexit without a new referendum if they win a general election.

Addressing the party faithful in Bournemouth, Ms Swinson said: 'At the next general election, voters will choose the sort of country we want to be.

'Insular, closed and selfish, or collaborative, open and generous. 

'A politics of fear, hate and division, or one of respect, hope and inclusion.'

She added: 'Ahead of us we have the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain.'

Addressing the party faithful in Bournemouth, Ms Swinson said: 'At the next general election, voters will choose the sort of country we want to be'

Ms Swinson's husband Duncan Hames was in the front row for the speech at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth. Ms Swinson added: 'Ahead of us we have the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain' as she addressed the party conference

Ms Swinson's husband Duncan Hames was in the front row for the speech at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth. Ms Swinson added: 'Ahead of us we have the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain' as she addressed the party conference

She accused the Prime Minister (pictured today in Downing Street) of acting like a 'socialist dictator' over Brexit by shutting down dissent and 'purging' his opponents in the Conservative party.

She accused the Prime Minister (pictured today in Downing Street) of acting like a 'socialist dictator' over Brexit by shutting down dissent and 'purging' his opponents in the Conservative party.

With her mother Annette Swinson and husband Duncan Hames watching from the front row she also tore into the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue Parliament, which is the subject of a landmark Supreme Court case starting this morning.

Who is Jo Swinson?

When Ms Swinson, 39, was elected as an MP for the first time in 2005 she was, at the age of 25, the Baby of the House - the youngest parliamentarian in Westminster. 

She served as an MP for 10 years, working as a junior minister in the coalition government from 2012, before losing her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP in 2015. 

She won it back at the snap 2017 general election and then became the deputy leader of the Lib Dems after Tim Farron quit to make way for Sir Vince Cable in the wake of the party's poor showing at the ballot box. 

She hit the headlines in 2018 after she missed a number of crunch Brexit votes because she was on maternity leave following the birth of her second child. 

She had been paired with Tory Party chairman Brandon Lewis who was supposed not to vote so that her absence would not be felt. 

However, he did vote in a key division, sparking a political firestorm.

Ms Swinson claimed Mr Lewis had voted on purpose in order to help the government win but he always maintained it had been an 'honest mistake'. 

The new Lib Dem leader sparked controversy during the leadership race after she claimed the UK was a 'racist country'. 

She immediately came under fire for the remark as she was accused of smearing the entire nation. 

Ms Swinson is married to former Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames. They have two children.

And she waded into the expulsion of 21 Tory MPs after the voted to block a No Deal Brexit, which prompted one, Sam Gyimah, to join the Lib Dems this weekend.

Ms Swinson, who took over as leader from Sir Vince Cable in July, said: '(Boris Johnson) kicked 21 MPs out of the Conservative party, including the Father of the House Ken Clarke, and Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames, just because they dared to stand up to him.

'There is even now the suggestion that he would break the law and refuse to ask for an extension to Article 50.

'Silencing critics. Purging opponents. Ignoring the law.

'For someone who proclaims to hate socialist dictators, he's doing a pretty good impression of one.'

And of Mr Corbyn he said: 'Even now, when faced with all the clear and obvious dangers that Brexit brings, Jeremy Corbyn still insists that if Labour win a General Election, they will negotiate their own Brexit deal to take us out of the EU.

'Nigel Farage might be Brexit by name, but it is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature.'

Despite the result of the 2016 referendum, the Liberal Democrats are now committed to revoking Article 50 immediately if they win the next general election. 

If the Lib Dems, who have only 18 MPs, do not win the next election, they would continue to push for a second referendum. 

Yesterday the pledge prompted condemnation, including from some of the party's own MPs and peers. 

Ms Swinson was warned that she was 'playing with fire' by pledging to overturn a democratic vote by former health minister Norman Lamb. 

Despite the result of the 2016 referendum, the Liberal Democrats are now committed to revoking Article 50 immediately if they win the next general election

If the Lib Dems, who have only 18 MPs, do not win the next election, they would continue to push for a second referendum

If the Lib Dems, who have only 18 MPs, do not win the next election, they would continue to push for a second referendum

The outgoing Lib Dem MP for Brexit-backing North Norfolk added that the policy was a 'threat to the union' and risked worsening the already 'incredibly dangerous' divisions in the country.

'If we take this to the very limit in a situation where one side is vanquished entirely, there's a danger that we break the social contract in our country,' he told Radio 4's Today programme.

He also warned against the Lib Dems being seen as 'a single-issue party'. 

With her mother Annette Swinson and husband Duncan Hames watching from the front row (pictured) she also tore into the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue Parliament

With her mother Annette Swinson and husband Duncan Hames watching from the front row (pictured) she also tore into the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue Parliament

More criticism came from Lord Paul Scriven, who tweeted: 'Our new

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