THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have claimed they are campaigning for their leader Jo Swinson to be the next Prime Minister – but a Brexit expert has dismissed this as a “crazy, bizarre imagined world”.
Ms Swinson said at the launch of her campaign last month that she believed her party – which took just under eight percent of the vote in 2017 and is now polling around 12 percent – could win a majority. She said: “Don’t let anyone tell you what has to happen. Change is possible, and you get to choose. I never thought I’d stand here and say that I’m a candidate to be Prime Minister. But when I look at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, I am absolutely certain I could do a better job than either of them.”
Unfortunately for Ms Swinson, the Liberal Democrats have been on a steady decline from their peak in the polls at around 20 percent a couple of months ago to where they are now.
The idea of them winning a majority was also branded “bizarre” by Anand Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe.
Mr Menon, who is a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London, was discussing the Liberal Democrat policy to revoke Article 50.
He claimed that lawyers disagree about whether a Liberal Democrat majority government would be able to revoke Article 50 immediately and cancel Brexit – or whether they would need to pass a bill through the Commons.
He added that this could even “end up in the courts” to get resolved – just as triggering Article 50 did after Gina Miller took the case to the Supreme Court.
However, he pointed out that the only situation in which this would happen is a Liberal Democrat majority government, in which case they would have no problem passing it through the Commons anyway.
He emphasised how unlikely this is to happen, though.
Mr Menon told Express.co.uk: “The only thing the lawyers don’t agree on is whether or not you would need legislation to do it.
“And lawyers genuinely disagree on this – whether you actually need a piece of primary legislation to allow you to revoke the triggering or whether a majority Lib Dem government could just come in and revoke.
“But I suppose if you had a Lib Dem majority government – in that crazy, bizarre imaged world – then it’s not really a massive hurdle because you would have a Lib Dem majority to pass it through Parliament anyway.”
He added: “The only circumstance in which it happens is a Lib Dem majority and then Parliament doesn’t have a rule, the majority decides. If you have 326 Lib Dem MPs.”
At their peak in 2005, the Liberal Democrats won 62 seats with 22 percent of the vote – 274 seats off forming a majority government.
In the latest polls, the Liberal Democrats are on around 11 to 13 percent.
YouGov’s latest poll puts the Tories on 43 percent, Labour on 33 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 12 percent.
Survation puts the Tories on 45 percent, Labour on 31 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 11 percent.
Britain Elects had the Tories on 42.9 percent, Labour on 33 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 12.6 percent.
Opinium puts the Tories on 46 percent, Labour on 31 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 13 percent.
These numbers represent a huge blow to Ms Swinson, who was only elected leader in July and who started the campaign so confidently.
Nevertheless, if the Liberal Democrats did miraculously pull of a majority on Thursday, their plan to cancel Brexit would not be able to be stopped, Mr Menon claimed.
He said: “[Brexiteers] might be able to slow it up in committee, but it’s a manifesto pledge so under the Salisbury convention the House of Lords wouldn’t mess with it.
“It’s very hard to see how they would be able to stop it.”
Many Leavers have branded the Liberal Democrats’ policy to revoke Article 50 as undemocratic, as it would overturn the result of the referendum – the largest democratic exercise in UK history – without even a second vote.