Vince Cable stood down as deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats last night in a move that could see more power handed to one of the party's left-wing figures.
Mr Cable said he left the post so that he could concentrate on his Cabinet role of Business Secretary. Party figures have already called for the role to be handed to one of the party's backbenchers, many of whom have been uneasy about the decision to join a coalition with the Tories. Evan Harris, a former Liberal Democrat MP who lost his seat at the election said it "would make sense to elect a Lib Dem MP from outside the Government".
"It has been an honour to serve as the deputy leader of our party," Mr Cable said in a letter to Nick Clegg. "In joining the cabinet I have taken on many new responsibilities and it is right that I focus wholeheartedly on the job in hand. These are exciting times to be a Liberal Democrat, and despite the challenges we face we have a real opportunity to change Britain for the better."
Nominations to replace Mr Cable will be made next Wednesday. The party's 57 MPs will vote on his successor on 9 June. In a statement issued last night, Mr Clegg said: "Vince has been a fantastic deputy leader during an exciting time for the party."
*David Miliband has overtaken his brother, Ed, in the race to secure support from MPs for the Labour leadership amid signs that the former Foreign Secretary was winning backers from across the party. The brothers are the only two of the five candidates to have officially secured the 33 nominations to guarantee a place on the ballot paper.Reuse content