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2019 Liberal Democrats Leadership Election: Following Vince Cable

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2019 Liberal Democrats Leadership Election

The 2019 Liberal Democrats leadership election is ready to go this summer. Why should the Conservatives have all the fun?

The Tory leadership race will choose a new prime minister, but the next Liberal Democrat leader could be a king or queen-maker following the next general election. Their leadership comes vacant at a time when, yes, many will pay attention to the Conservatives instead, but as the Lib Dems start to come back from their cratering in 2015. Under Vince Cable in 2019, the Lib Dems did well in both the English local elections and the European Parliament elections. The former saw them gain over 700 councillors and ten councils, with the latter having them finish second, ahead of both Labour and the Tories.

Much of this, as if it needs to be said, is in response to Brexit. Whereas the Conservative Party is split down the middle and Labour is seen as having had an ineffective approach to Brexit, the Lib Dems have been clear in their opposition to it. This has helped them pick up the support of some disaffected Remain voters as the party looks to rehabilitate itself.

It’s been a wild decade for the Lib Dems, rising under Nick Clegg and eventually moving to the government benches for the first time. This was followed by their collapse to eight seats in 2015 and now, they are trying to reposition themselves for the future. Which new leader will hope to champion that effort?

Below, see the list of declared candidates in the running and more on how the Liberal Democrats will elect their new leader.

2017: The Last Lib Dem Leadership Race

In 2015, the year the Tories squeezed out a majority under David Cameron, Vince Cable lost his seat in Twickenham. During Theresa May’s disappointing Tory 2017 campaign, Cable got the seat back. Within less than two months, he was leading the Lib Dems.

Cable, one of the most well-known Lib Dem politicians in Britain and a former cabinet minister in the Cameron-Clegg government, had no opposition in his leadership bid.

Rules of the Road: 2019 Liberal Democrats Leadership Election1

Like in the Conservative leadership race, the next party leader cannot come from outside the House of Commons. There are just 11 MPs, and Vince Cable is out, so there are only ten possible candidates for the job.

A nominated candidate needs the support of ten percent of the parliamentary party. Ten percent of 11 is 1.1 MPs, which we suspect they will round down to one since parliamentarians don’t vote by shares.

The toughest ask for any MPs seeking the job is that at least 200 party members in a minimum of 20 local associations must back them. That’s nothing that can’t be solved with a petition drive, however.

In the end, this will be put to a vote of the party membership. This is expected to be resolved by late July.

2019 Liberal Democrats Leadership Election Candidates

Sir Ed Davey
MP for Kingston and Surbiton (1997-2015, 2017-pres.)
Jo Swinson
MP for East Dunbartonshire (2005-2015, 2017-pres.), Deputy Leader

2019 Liberal Democrats Leadership Election Results

The final results of the Lib Dem leadership race were announced on 22 July 2019, a day before the Conservatives announced their leadership results.

2019 Liberal Democrat Leadership Election Results

Jo Swinson, a 39-year old Scottish MP, won the leadership of the party to become the first female leader of the Lib Dems. She scored just over 63 percent of the vote over Sir Ed Davey. Prior to elevating to the leadership, Swinson was deupty leader under Vince Cable.

Right away, Swinson has work to do as her party is in a position to gain Brecon and Radnorshire in an upcoming by-election.


1: “Liberal Democrats start leadership contest” (BBC News web site, published 24 May 2019, accessed 28 May 2019)

2: “Jo Swinson and Ed Davey to battle for Lib Dem leadership” (by Anna Mikhailova, The Telegraph web site, published 27 May 2019, accessed 28 May 2019)

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