LONDON — Sir Vince Cable is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Cable was confirmed as the party’s new leader at a press conference in central London on Thursday afternoon.
The veteran MP for Twickenham announced his candidacy last month following the resignation of Tim Farron. However, no other Liberal Democrat figures entered the race to succeed Farron, meaning the party was able to crown Cable its new leader when nominations closed at 16:00 (BST) today.
Farron announced that he would be stepping down as Liberal Democrat leader in June after facing weeks of tough questioning during the general election campaign about his views on homosexuality as a devout Christian.
The MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale — who was elected the party’s leader in July 2015 — said in a statement that it felt “impossible” to continue as leader of the Liberal Democrats and live “as a faithful Christian”.
A number of Lib Dem figures were initially tipped to contest the vacancy including MPs Ed Davey, Norman Lamb, and Jo Swinson, who was elected the party’s deputy leader last month. However, senior party figures agreed that Cable should be allowed a free-run at the leadership, allowing him to take over and oversee a period of stability.
The Liberal Democrats made a net gain of three seats at the election, taking their tally up to 12 in the House of Commons. However, the party’s vote dropped to 7.4%, despite early talk of a resurgence fuelled by Remain voters.
Cable told Business Insider earlier this month that he planned to transform the Liberal Democrats into a “constructive opposition” to the Conservative government if elected leader. He vowed to appeal to millions of “moderate” voters who feel alienated by how the Tories and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party have handled Britain’s departure from the European Union.
He also told BI that he believes the British public will eventually favour another referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU once the economic impacts of leaving become clearer.
“But it may be that at the end of it, we are faced with a stark choice between crashing out of the EU with a no deal or a very bad deal, or on the other hand going back to membership,” the former Business Secretary said.
“That’s why my party argues that we should have a further vote on this. That didn’t resonate with voters at this year’s election. We all know that. It was premature and people thought we were harking back to the last one. But in two years time when it’s very clear what the economic impacts are I think the public will welcome that kind of option.”
This is a developing story…
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