Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Lib Dem leader quits, says can't lead party and be a Christian

Lib Dem leader quits, says can't lead party and be a Christian

Tim Farron, the leader of Britain's pro-European Union Liberal Democrat Party, resigned on Wednesday saying questions about his Christian faith ahead of last week's election meant he felt it was impossible to continue in the role.

His party won 12 seats in last week's general election, four more than in 2015, despite their share of the vote dropping slightly on two years ago.

Lord Paddick, who was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012, had served in Mr Farron's top team as Shadow Home Secretary.

Lord Paddick, who was the most senior openly gay police officer in the United Kingdom serving as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service from 2003 to 2007, announced his departure on Twitter.

Farron, 47, faced repeated questioning over whether there was a contradiction between his Christian beliefs and leading a progressive party often known for its secularism.

He added: "Now a third of our parliamentary party is female and we have our most diverse group of MPs ever, I feel our MPs form a more representative group to elect a deputy leader".

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From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.

The self-confessed Christian evangelist had been repeatedly asked about how his faith affects his politics, and specifically on homosexuality in the lead up to the snap General Election that took place on 8 June. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message. "I take the view though that as a political leader, my job is not to pontificate on theological matters".

In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

"I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in", he said.

But he said he could no longer reconcile his strong Christian faith with his responsibilities as leader of a liberal party. "But I wanted to revive the role as it gives the party another powerful voice and has helped give prominence to many of our notable MPs, including Ming Campbell, Simon Hughes and Vince Cable".

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