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Might the Lib Dems back Boris if they find themselves kingmakers?

21 November 2019

9:47 AM

21 November 2019

9:47 AM

It had not occurred to me that the Lib Dems would ‘allow’ Boris Johnson to remain PM if he were to fail to win a majority but the Tories nonetheless were to emerge from the election with more MPs than any other party.

I assumed Jo Swinson’s and her Lib Dem MPs’ savage criticism of Johnson and the Tories would lead the Lib Dem leader to swallow her pride at the last and eat the vitriol she has thrown at Corbyn. I have been taking it for granted she would find a way to agree some kind of arrangement with Remain parties and MPs, with Labour and the SNP, that would see Corbyn enter 10 Downing Street.

Not so.

Swinson’s deputy Ed Davey told me on my programme last night that he expected the election would lead to Johnson being left in charge of a minority government.

Two things. His honesty rather amazed me. Also, that is an outcome that would be a disaster for Johnson and Corbyn, who conspired to hold the election.

Davey sees a silver lining for his party from it acquiring a significant number of new seats and – he believes – increased prospects for a Brexit referendum. He thinks Johnson would at the last see a referendum on his deal as preferable to another snap election, or just months more of muddling through and uncertainty.

I am not so sure.

But as I travel to Birmingham to hear Labour’s pitch to form the next government, what strikes me as most important in Davey’s prognostication is that the Lib Dems really are sincere when they say they will never underwrite Corbyn becoming PM.

Robert Peston is ITV’s Political Editor. This article originally appeared on his ITV news blog.


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