UK Politics

Liberal Democrats start leadership contest

Vince Cable Image copyright EPA
Image caption Vince Cable will be replaced with a new leader on 23 July

The Liberal Democrats have begun the process of choosing their next leader.

The party's current leader, Sir Vince Cable, announced in March that he would step down after the local elections.

But in a statement on Friday - following the PM's announcement of her departure date - Sir Vince confirmed he would be handing over the reins to his successor on 23 July.

He said: "We have rebuilt the Liberal Democrats. I will be proud to hand over a bigger, stronger party."

Sir Vince took over as leader in July 2017 after his predecessor Tim Farron stepped down, saying he could no longer reconcile his strong Christian faith with his responsibilities as leader of a liberal party.

Nominations are now open for the leadership and will close on 7 June.

To stand, the candidate:

  • Must be an MP
  • Have the backing of at least 10% of the parliamentary party
  • Be supported by at least 200 members spread across at least 20 different local parties

Members will then have the final say on who gets the job.

The Lib Dems celebrated good results in the local elections earlier this month, with the party seeing gains across the country and taking seats from both Conservative and Labour-run councils.

Sir Vince said the new leader needed to continue "the battle to stop Brexit", and to seize "the opportunity created by the conflict and decay within the two main parties to build a powerful, liberal, green, and social democratic force in the centre ground of British politics".

"As we do so, I am confident that we will regain ground at Westminster, with a big group of MPs and more influence on the national stage".