Jo Swinson said the Liberal Democrats supported an EU referendum in 2008

17 September 2019
What was claimed

Jo Swinson called for a referendum on leaving or remaining in the EU in 2008.

Our verdict

Correct, in 2008 she said this was the policy of the Liberal Democrats.

What was claimed

Jo Swinson said she couldn’t forgive David Cameron for calling the 2016 EU referendum.

Our verdict

Correct, she said this at the Liberal Democrats’ 2019 party conference.

A post shared thousands of times on Facebook claims that Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson says she can never forgive David Cameron for calling a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. It also says that she called for one herself back in 2008 and provides a video of this.

It is correct that Ms Swinson said she didn’t forgive former-Prime Minister David Cameron for calling the EU referendum in 2016. At the Liberal Democrats party conference this week she said: “No, I don’t forgive David Cameron for calling the referendum. 

“I think so much of the problems that we are facing right now, stem from David Cameron’s shocking misjudgement in putting the interests of the Conservative Party ahead of the national interest.”

As the video in the Facebook post shows, Ms Swinson also said in 2008 that “the Liberal Democrats would like to have a referendum on the major issue of whether we are in or out of Europe.” This quote is also recorded in Hansard, the record of all parliamentary proceedings.

At the time, the Liberal Democrats supported a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU. The position was stated by other colleagues including then-party leader Nick Clegg, and was also included in the party’s 2010 election manifesto

It said: “The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over thirty years ago. 

“Liberal Democrats therefore remain committed to an in/out referendum the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.” 

The party’s position was that it was in favour of remaining in the EU at such a referendum.

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