Lord Oakeshott resigns from Liberal Democrats over Nick Clegg leadership row and threat of disciplinary action

Peer said he left the party 'with a heavy heart' - and a final shot at party 'heading for disaster' under Clegg

The Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott has resigned from the party "with a heavy heart" and a damning final attack against leader Nick Clegg.

Lord Oakeshott was widely named as the source of a recent piece of ICM research that suggested the Deputy Prime Minister would lose his parliamentary seat in the general election next year, and stood down after he was told he would face disciplinary action as a result.

Going out in a blaze of criticism for Mr Clegg and his "dire approval ratings", the peer said the Lib Dems were "heading for disaster" without an urgent change to the leadership.

Read more: Lord Oakeshott's scathing parting statement in full

Earlier, Mr Clegg had described Lord Oakeshott's actions as "totally unacceptable" and said that "appropriate steps" would be taken when Parliament returns.

The publication of the ICM poll came amid a crisis in the Lib Dem leadership, with a disastrous result in the European elections prompting calls from the grass roots of the party for Mr Clegg to stand down.

It further fuelled speculation that the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, was preparing to launch his own leadership bid.

Last night Mr Cable provided his own statement on the matter, condemning Lord Oakeshott's behaviour as "inexcusable and reprehensible", and repeating his view that there is "no leadership issue".

Speaking after he delivered a speech in east London, Mr Clegg said: "I think it is totally unacceptable in a campaign for the Liberal party facing very, very difficult elections last week, as we were, to find out now with hindsight that a senior member of the party, far from actually going out trying to win votes was spending money and time seeking to undermine the fortunes of the party."

He said the ICM results had been "confounded" by last week's election results, which suggested that - despite recent difficulties - he would have won his constituency.

Issuing a statement today, Lord Oakeshott said: "I am today taking leave of absence from the House of Lords and resigning as a member of the Liberal Democrats.

"I am sure the party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A long-established, technology rich ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable