Can Jo Swinson really threaten Labour and the Tories at the ballot box?
With only three weeks to go before the UK electorate go to the ballot box, the nitty-gritty of each political party’s manifesto is beginning to emerge.
We’ve seen Johnson and Corbyn go head-to-head on TV, with little new revealed, and as Brexit has finally taken a back seat, compared to the last three years, it is the nitty-gritty of taxation and spending that is grabbing the political headlines.
Of course Brexit has not disappeared altogether and voters are now well aware of how each party stands on the issue, but it is because of the Liberal Democrats’ desire to remain that they believe that they can offer the biggest boost to the public purse.
This is an argument that has failed to emerge at all since the European Referendum and it is a potent one.
Up to this point the discussions have been about how the UK will leave the UK and the power of ’Taking back control,’ as many Brexiteers have demanded, but no one has actually pointed out up until now what a financial bonanza could occur if we actually just stay put.
However, yesterday as Jo Swinson unveiled the details of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, at the very top of the balance sheet was an impressive £50 billion that would be used to reinvigorate the economy by revoking Article 50.
This is not only achieved by not having to pay the £39 billion divorce bill to Brussels, and receiving the grants that the UK currently enjoys from the EU, but the subsequent tax receipts would also be boosted by the inevitable economic growth.
It’s a very attractive proposition, on the basis that there has been no economic certainty in past years, and the ‘better the devil you know' rationale is gaining momentum in some quarters.
Swinson has stated that the main beneficiary of this windfall would be the education system, which would gain £10.5 billion to recruit more teachers returning spending to its 2015 level and perhaps goes some way for the Liberals to make up for their support of the Tories when in Coalition over cutting further education grants.
Currently with only 20 MPs in situ, the Liberals do have a long way to go to catch up with the two main players, but their Brexit stance together with their economic predictions could win them a lot of votes.
While it may be too much to think that they could be the largest party on December 12, if they simply managed to double or triple their numbers they would easily be in a position to hold the balance of power.
It would therefore be a question of who the Liberals would form a coalition with should this occur.
It would be unthinkable that Swinson would team up with such a staunch Brexiteer as Johnson, so it seems Corbyn would be her only option.
Only yesterday she was being pressed by the media to come clean about who she felt she could partner if called upon in a hung parliament situation, and while she was still nominating herself as the next PM, she seems aware that she will soon have to make some sort of commitment in the near future to allay voters’ fears.
Given the electoral alliance that she has made with other remain parties in certain constituencies, it does appear that while she may not emerge as prime minister on December 12, she may well have the future of the country at her feet.