Tim Farron quits as Liberal Democrat leader

Friday, 16 Jun, 2017

Tim Farron quit as leader of the Liberal Democrats less than a week after the United Kingdom elections saying that he was torn between " between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader".

His statement drew praise and concern from a number of church leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury and raised questions over whether a socially conservative Christian will ever lead a political party again.

In his leaving speech the leader said he has found it impossible "to live as a committed Christian" while leading a liberal party, referencing repeated questions about his views on homosexuality.

However, the seven week campaign saw Farron repeatedly quizzed about his views on abortion, and gay sex - largely drowning out the party's unique selling point of a second referendum on the terms of any European Union exit deal.

Mr Laws said the Lib Dem leader had "clearly implied that he views same-sex relationships as wrong, but will as a liberal vote to tolerate people who are in such relationships".

Prime Minister Theresa May, a vicar's daughter, was asked whether gay sex was a sin during the election campaign and immediately replied "no".

We need not be diverted by Mr Farron's complaint that the "suspicion" of his Christianity meant "we are kidding ourselves if we think we live in a liberal and tolerant society".

Farron clarified that he did not believe in imposing his Christian views on the public and that, as "A liberal to (his) fingertips", he strives to protect the liberties of those who believe differently than he does. Paul Woolley, the deputy chief executive of the Bible Society, expressed fear that Britain's liberal political culture isn't liberal enough to include decent people such as Farron.

However, another option being mooted is Sir Vince, 74, becoming an interim "Brexit leader", and then stepping down to allow former business minister Ms Swinson to take over before the next election, if it is held in 2020.

But his leadership was called into question after Lord Brian Paddick - the party's home affairs spokesman in the House of Lords and a well-known gay activist - said he was quitting because of the leadership's views during the election. Contrast this with the many self-declared Christians in the Democratic Party in the USA who endorse everything the Bible speaks out against. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake. "In the words of Isaac Watts, it would have to be something "so incredible, so divine, [it] demands my heart, my life, my all". The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more.

A new leader will be elected by the membership this Autumn's Party Conference - much earlier if there is no contest and only one candidate when nominations close.

His resignation will trigger a leadership election next month.

"I have met Tim a few times before he became leader".

Another returning MP, this time in Twickenham, Mr Cable briefly served as an interim leader while the party selected Nick Clegg.