Tim Farron resigns as leader of Liberal Democrats

He said he had become the 'subject of suspicion' because of his Christian faith 

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 14 June 2017 19:27 BST
Tim Farron resigns as leader from the Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats, following a furore over his beliefs concerning gay sex.

The politician admitted some of his comments concerning the matter could have been wiser – when asked if homosexuality is a sin he had previously responded: “We are all sinners.”

After the matter refused to go away and surfaced again during the election campaign, Mr Farron said it had felt “impossible” to be both Lib Dem leader and a Christian.

Earlier on Wednesday Lib Dem Lord Paddick, a gay former senior Met police officer, resigned from his post as the party’s home affairs spokesman.

In a statement, Mr Farron said: “I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

“In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society. That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.”

He said that from the “very first day” of his leadership he had faced questions about his Christian faith and that he had tried to answer with “grace and patience”, adding: “Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.”

But with the vital election campaign kicking off and the Lib Dems desperate to capitalise on any anti-Brexit feeling, Mr Farron said the issue was distracting attention from the party’s message.

When the results came in last Friday the party had gained four seats, leaving them with 12 – not as many as had been hoped for in the wake of the EU referendum.

Mr Farron added: “Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit. The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

Tim Farron says it's 'bizarre' journalists keep questioning him on faith

“A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.”

Taking to Twitter earlier in the day, Lord Paddick said: “I’ve resigned as Lib Dems Shadow Home Secretary over concerns about the leader’s views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17.”

The announcement clears the way for one of the other well known figures in the party to step forward and take on the top job.

Potential contenders include Jo Swinson, newly returned to Parliament, former cabinet ministers Vince Cable and Ed Davey and ex-health minister Norman Lamb.

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