Jo Swinson has said she would respect the result of another EU referendum – including if the public backed Brexit for a second time.
Ms Swinson, who was elected as leader of the Liberal Democrats earlier this week, said that although she would not stop campaigning for the UK to be a part of the European Union, she would recognise the public’s decision to leave if they were to vote for it again.
The Liberal Democrats have consistently called for another vote on Brexit to be held.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme on Sunday, Ms Swinson said: “If we had a situation where we had a People’s Vote on a specific Brexit, then if there were to be a vote in that scenario in favour of a specific Brexit deal, then I would absolutely recognise that that was what the country had decided to do.
“At the moment the difference is, and the difficulty is, that I don’t think there is a majority in this country for any specific type of Brexit.
“Even the Brexiteers can’t agree among themselves – some of them say Theresa May’s deal is not good enough because it’s not ‘Brexity’ enough for them, and others who voted leave in good conscience, listening to what they were told about how they would be leaving with a deal in an orderly manner, are appalled at the thought we might be crashing out without a deal.
“So there isn’t agreement amongst Brexiteers, therefore I don’t think there is agreement in the country for any specific Brexit proposal and that’s why we need to put this issue back to the people in a People’s Vote and I will campaign strongly with the Liberal Democrats to remain in the EU.”
Ms Swinson also confirmed that she would honour the result of any second referendum on EU membership: “Yes – I wouldn’t stop changing my view about what was right for the country, but, yes, I would absolutely honour that result.”
Asked whether she would campaign for the UK to apply to rejoin the EU in the event of Brexit, the Lib Dem leader said: “Well, first of all, I’m determined to stop Brexit.
“But in the scenario that we end up outside of the European Union, we need to recognise that that’s not the end of Brexit, that’s the beginning of years and years and years of Brexit negotiations and wrangling.
“You know, this is not going away from our TV screens anytime soon if we do leave the European Union.
“And in that scenario, there’s going to be decisions, day in, day out, week in, week out, about what our relationship looks like with the European Union and I will be campaigning and arguing for as close as possible a relationship in those circumstances for regulations to align as much as possible, for us beefing up our diplomatic efforts in EU capitals so that we have strong relationships.
“Because that is where our best future lies as members of the European Union, and if it cannot be, then it has to be as close as possible to the European Union for our strategic, geopolitical interests and for people’s jobs in this country.”