The leader of the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) Tim Farron has said he is to step down as leader. Less than a week after the election, Mr Farron said he cannot carry on in the face of continuing questions over his Christian faith.
In a statement, he said he was “torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader”.
He said he should have dealt “more wisely” with questions relating to his faith during the election campaign, including his views on gay sex.
Possible successors include former ministers Sir Vince Cable, Jo Swinson, Sir Ed Davey and Norman Lamb.
Church leaders praised Mr Farron. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was “honourable and decent”.
The acting Bishop of London, Pete Broadbent, said “no-one should have to choose between their faith and politics”. He added that it was “deeply regrettable” he felt the need to quit.
“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me”.
The shock announcement came just hours after the party’s openly gay home affairs spokesman Lord Paddick announced he was quitting. Lord Paddick cited “concerns about the leader’s views on various issues”.
Mr Farron, an evangelical Christian, has served as Lib Dem leader since 2015, was criticised during the General Election campaign for failing to answer questions about his views on homosexuality.
He made clear he supported equal marriage and LGBT rights, but in an interview, did not say whether he thought it was a sin.
After days of pressure to clarify his stance, Mr Farron finally made clear he did not believe gay sex is a sin, but he continued to face questions in interviews.
Photo Credit: ODN