British election: UK Liberal Democrat leader Swinson loses seat to Scottish National Party

Ms Jo Swinson lost her seat of East Dunbartonshire by just 149 votes. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - The leader of Britain's pro-European Union Liberal Democrats, Ms Jo Swinson, lost her parliamentary seat to the Scottish National Party (SNP) on Friday (Dec 13).

The Liberal Democrats had hoped to win over "remain" voters by pledging to overturn Britain's 2016 vote to leave the EU, but an exit poll predicted they would gain just one seat in Parliament compared to the last national election in 2017.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives are on course to win a large majority after voters backed his bid to deliver Brexit on Jan 31.

The SNP is predicted to win 50 of the 59 seats in Scotland.

"Some will be celebrating the wave of nationalism that is sweeping on both sides of the border," said Ms Swinson, who became Liberal Democrat leader only in July.

"These are very significant results for the future of our country."

Ms Swinson, who held the seat of East Dunbartonshire from 2005 to 2015 and then regained it in 2017, lost by just 149 votes.

She did not say whether she would be stepping down as leader of the Liberal Democrats, who were in coalition with the Conservatives from 2010 to 2015, but said she would be making further remarks later on Friday.

"I still believe that we as a country can be warm and generous, inclusive and open, and that by working together with our nearest neighbours, we can achieve so much more," she said.

"Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for these values that guide our liberal movement: openness, fairness, inclusivity. We will stand up for hope."

The Liberal Democrats said they would elect a new leader next year after Ms Swinson lost her seat.

"In the weeks ahead we will elect a new leader and our party will continue to be the rallying point for anyone who believes in a country where everyone has the chance to get on in life," party President Sal Brinton said in a statement.

The party said Mr Brinton and lawmaker Ed Davey would be joint acting leaders till a new leader was elected.

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