Jo Swinson on Question Time: Brexit is a national embarrassment and we can stop it

It’s Jo Swinson’s first week back from parental leave and already she’s done more than most of us letter mortals do in a month.

We’ll have more of that first week over the weekend but for now I want to concentrate on her appearance on Question Time last night.

She was brilliant – clear and passionate, describing Brexit as a national embarrassment and showing how a People’s Vote could get us out of the mess we’re in. The programme came from Islington, her fellow panellist Emily Thornberry’s patch but Jo got way more applause than the Labour shadow foreign secretary did.


People were impressed with her:


She had loads to offer on a question on knife crime, too. James Cleverly for the Tories basically used the question as an opportunity to advocate for the Tory mayoral candidate rather than tackle the issue. Jo highlighted Glasgow’s experience of reducing knife crime by 62% with an integrated approach by schools, the police and health and care services. The same should work in London.

You can watch the whole programme on iPlayer here.


New host Fiona Bruce was less willing to allow grandstanding than her predecessor. She had this very dignified and calm presence in the chair.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Oh to be governed by “unelected bureaucrats, citizens of nowhere, gilded elites, Brussels and multinational corporations” right now… far better than the awful choice of Nationalist Empire Loyalists and Nationalist Scargillite Communists.

  • nigel hunter 11th Jan '19 - 3:50pm

    Jo had a question on knife crime and handled it well (mentioned what was happening in Glasgow). Later a special constable talked about the effects drugs have on crime/knife crime.Would it not be possible that if a question is known or anticipated we can mention our relevant policy on whatever subject it may be.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jan '19 - 7:43pm

    My prediction for 2019 is that Italian banking system will go broke. It probably is bust right now except that everyone pretends it isn’t. Italy will either leave or be thrown out of the euro. One of the biggest financial panics of our lifetime will occur. I very much doubt the crisis will be contained within Italian borders.

    We’ve seen before in the Asian sovereign debt crisis of 1997 just how seemingly ultra rigid currency arrangements can collapse very quickly. It is actually the rigidity of fixed exchange rates which causes the weakness and you can’t have anything more fixed and rigid than we see in Europe right now.

    So, if I turn out to be right then Brexit won’t look such a dumb move or a national embarrassment after all! I’d say this article is on the right track but the Italians alone can’t fix their banks. It needs the EU as a whole to do that and the £39 bn bill for Brexit will be peanuts by comparison.

  • Bless Peter the EU is going to fail, is getting rather old. I know you want it to be so but so far your predictions are based on hope rather than fact. I’ve told you before read wolfstreet, in fact read this recent article it will explain to you how Italy backstopped by the ECB deal with bad Italian banks
    I know you struggle to understand but they change the rules when the present rules don’t fit. There are no hard rules in economics when they can change them to make things work; and they can and they do, but you don’t seem to understand that wedded as you are to some archaic rules. There is no referee Peter they are too big and strong for that, if they have to fudge or change the rules they will.

  • chris moore 11th Jan '19 - 8:34pm

    Italy’s banks have been in a parlous state for a couple of decades.

    Each year, there’s a chance of a serious blow up.

    Since the advent of the new populist government, things have got worse , with quite extensive selling of Italian government bonds by foreign investors causing a further drop in the value of such assets on Italian bank balance sheets which. already looked unhealty.

    You’re right that more re-capitalisation of some of the weaker banks is over-due.

    But In any case, Britain isn’t part of the Euro; hence in or out, will not play a leading part in any putative rescue.

    The Spanish banking system was in a dire state 10 years ago; yet with some help from the European central bank, the crisis was weathered, though with, to take just one example, many small shareholders and holders of preference shares in Bankia wiped out.

  • LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Italian government bond yields fell sharply on Friday following the successful sale of 6.5 billion euros ($7.5 billion) of its debt, wrapping up the busiest week for euro zone bond issuance in three years.

    Perhaps because Chris, the Italian government fudged its relationship with the EU, the only populism they seem to have left is being nasty to foreigners and being anti vaccine.

    Italy has managed to avert EU sanctions after reaching a compromise with the European commission over its 2019 budget.

    The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said the government had managed to reach an agreement to reduce the deficit target to 2.04% of GDP from 2.4%. This has been achieved without making drastic changes to key budget proposals such as the promise of a universal basic income and lowering the pension age.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jan '19 - 8:54pm

    @ Chris Moore,

    So you’re saying that we’ll be excused any bailout payments if things go really sour in the eurozone, because we aren’t eurozone members ourselves? I agree that is the logical argument but I’m not convinced the EU will actually see it that way. Or maybe the EU’s computer is not programmed to see it that way. Someone will type in our GDP, rate of growth etc and out will pop a figure for how many billions we’ll be required to cough up.

    The EU doesn’t think logically on questions of European debt. There was no need to have any IMF involvement in the Greek crisis for example. It was essentially an internal EU matter. There was nothing the IMF could offer that the ECB couldn’t offer and at much lower cost too!

  • Peter,
    I really think you need to look up the concept of QE, because when you understand that you’ll realise finding the money isn’t an issue. The EU wanted the IMF involved to give the bail out of Greece less of an EU theme, so why would they need us to bail out Italian banks, the IMF they might use but the UK, I rather think not. There is no shortage of euros to bail out Italy if the will exists but if it doesn’t there will be. I suspect the will exists, it just needs a little bit of pain to justify the excercise.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jan '19 - 9:38pm

    @ Frankie

    “There is no shortage of euros to bail out Italy”

    Well I’m pleased that you’ve been paying some attention to what I’m always keen to explain about fiat currencies!

    “……if the will exists….”

    But does it? My reading of the political situation is that Germany has had just about enough of so-called quantitative easing. The workings of Target2 are also slowly being grasped by many Germans. Essentially, all that QE is gives Germans euro assets at the ECB which they can never use, and Italians (and others) euro debts at the ECB they can never repay. Of course if the EU was a single country none of this would matter. But it isn’t!

    Any comments, Arnold Kiel?

  • Yeovil Yokel 11th Jan '19 - 11:02pm

    That’s strange, until the third post I could have sworn that this was a thread about Jo Swinson’s appearance on Question Time….

  • Yes, I thought it was about Jp Swinson. I checked twice, and cannot now find what it has transmuted into.

  • John Marriott 12th Jan '19 - 8:21am

    A plea to Peter Martin and ‘frankie’. There comes a time when you have to agree to disagree and move on. ‘Yeovil Yokel’ has a point. Mind you, I have learned a bit about the Italian banking system in reading their ping pong debate in this thread.

    Back to the main theme. Nigel Jones’ point about ‘chipping in’ is fine if the others are prepared to ‘chip OUT’. Too often they are not and just keep talking over each other. It drives my wife mad. One of the worst offenders is that bespectacled Irish lady MEP, whose name escapes me. Oh, and the look that Nish Kumar gave Melanie Phillips said it all about the polarisation of much of our public life.

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Jan '19 - 9:13am

    “A plea to Peter Martin and ‘frankie’. There comes a time when you have to agree to disagree and move on. ‘Yeovil Yokel’ has a point.!

    Seconded wholeheartedly. I do wish the LDV team would do something about threads being highjacked – especially when they are highjacked by economy nerds!! It isn’t that I’m not interested in economics – I’m just not that deep into it and might actually want to discuss the original subject of the thread!

    If the team desires this place to be a forum for lively but rational debate – that will not happen while participants are allowed to highjack a thread totally unrelated to their particular bee in bonnet.

  • chris moore 12th Jan '19 - 9:16am

    @ Peter Martin,

    Yes, Peter, Britain – as a country – isn’t obliged to particpate in any euro bail out, as it’s not a member of the Euro.

    It din’t particpate in the Greek bailout, though, of course, English banks had some exposure to Greek bonds: around 10 billion euros from memory.

  • chris moore 12th Jan '19 - 9:18am

    Hi Frankie,

    yes, it’s good news about the bond issue. But Italy’s problems are very deeply rooted. And it’s going to be a continuing story.

  • Peter Martin 12th Jan '19 - 10:32am

    @ Nonconformistradical,

    Yes I do take your point about ‘agreeing to disagree’. The title of this thread includes the wording that Brexit is a ‘National Embarrassment’. My original point was that it may turn out not to be if the Italian banks go belly up in the near future. Another possibility is that Macron is toppled by the ‘gilets jaunes’ and political chaos ensues in France. But that’s less likely IMO.

    I’m not quite sure what it is about remainers. We leavers are usually portrayed as knuckle dragging Neanderthals who can’t spell and aren’t interested in anything but football and bashing immigrants. I would say that Jo Swinson comes across as meaning that anyone who voted Leave is a ‘National Embarrassment’ too.

    However, if we do start to offer rational and intelligent reasons why it might not be such a good idea to a part of the EU then suddenly we become ‘nerds’!

    I’d just like to make the point, before I go off to watch a football match this afternoon, that I’m neither!

  • The lady in yellow wasn’t the only one to out shine the panel, most contributors seemed articulate and thoughtful. I was particularly impressed by the special constable, who articulated much more convincingly why pot should be legalised than any poltician I have ever heard. On the plus side Jo was head and shoulders above the rest of the panel, but with the exception of Nis, they were very poor, especially Cleverley and Thornbury ( at times given the amount of twisting and turning they where doing I feared they were about to emulate the oozlum bird).

  • Yeovil Yokel 12th Jan '19 - 10:52am

    No excuses, Peter Martin, your opening sentence in this thread was: “My prediction for 2019 is that the Italian banking system will go broke”. You failed to mention the words “Jo Swinson” or “Question Time” once, although at least you did mention “national embarrassment”. If you want to discuss the travails of the Italian banking system as a symptom of the failing EU that’s fine, but open your own thread on the subject with a relevant title.
    Nonconformistradical – I share your frustration but I don’t think we should expect the moderators to police the relevance of content. I think it’s up to experienced posters like frankie not to take the bait.

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Jan '19 - 11:02am

    @ Martin,
    The woman’s name is Diana Good.

    She is formidable as her CV demonstrates. This includes her involvement as advisor to the Campaign for Female Education in Africa.

    What an amazing woman.

  • John Marriott 12th Jan '19 - 11:41am

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the new QT Chair(man/woman/person). Besides talking a little too much, Fiona Bruce made a good start. Given her CV she is obviously used to dealing with antiques, not forgetting deciding who the ‘fakes’ are and where the ‘fortune’ is to be found. (Think about it.)

  • Sue Sutherland 12th Jan '19 - 1:19pm

    I had forgotten just how good Jo Swinson is. It always annoys me when panellists interrupt each other and
    she has no need to do so because the expression on her face tells it all. I thought Fiona Bruce was excellent too.

  • marcstevens 12th Jan '19 - 2:18pm

    The thread is supposed to be about Jo Swinson and Question Time. I agree with others on sticking to the topic of the thread, those off topic should be removed by the administrators.

    I agree with Martin the woman in yellow was excellent and we need more people like this with passion and drive to speak up for the remain side otherwise it’s highjacked by leavers who bang on about controlling borders sovereignty etc and the usual obfuscation of the truth.

    I think the Lib Dem MPs like Jo and Layla need to give more detail along with their answers, how the country has benefited from EU membership needs to be spelt out more also give it more local relevance eg Islington and ESF monies have funded community projects in this area some of which are now are risk of closure. She did speak very well on how knife crime is being approached in Glasgow however.

  • Peter Martin 12th Jan '19 - 2:31pm

    @ marcstevens

    “The thread is supposed to be about Jo Swinson and Question Time.”

    And, about Brexit being a “National Embarrassment” ?

    From a literal interpretation of Jo Swinson’s remarks on QT this is because Ms May’s government has handled the negotiations badly. I wouldn’t disagree with that.

    But, from my understanding of the Lib Dem position it goes much further. Brexit has been a ‘National Embarassment’ since the results were announced on the 24th June 2016. I know from my own experience that many Remainers think every person who dared to vote against the Establishment is a ‘National Embarassment’ too!

  • Well what can I say about taking bait, mea culpa. Peter is trying to justify his Brexit stance by claiming the EU will implode and we must run away. He tries it on a regular basis, the sad thing is if the EU does implode unless he’s got a magic plan of moving our geographical location ( a few Brexiteers in a rowing boat are not likely to achieve that, although I’m sure they are trying; row harder chaps) we are toast as well. Now you are right I should probably ignore his bait, but the problem is if you don’t point out the fallacies and wishful thinking in his posts some people might actually take them seriously.

  • nonconformistradical 12th Jan '19 - 3:12pm

    Yes – please ignore Peter Martin and allow others to dicuss Jo Swinson’s QT performance.


  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Jan '19 - 4:41pm

    @ Nonconformistradical,

    Jo Swinson always comes across very well. I found her contribution on the issue of knife crime particularly interesting.

    The problem is that the programme is of little interest to anyone other than the politics nerd. The politicians on the panel follow the party line, ( in this case on the subject of Brexit which took up most of the programme), and the audience parades their biases and prejudices. It is boring in its predictability.

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