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Lib Dem leader to be announced today

Tony Grew December 18, 2007

The Liberal Democrats will announce their new leader today. Home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg and environment spokesman Chris Huhne are the contenders.

The result will be announced at 14:30. Mr Clegg is favourite to win, though Mr Huhne’s camp are claiming that a late surge in support among an estimated 65,000 Lib Dem party members.

The winner will be the third Liberal Democrat leader since January 2006, when Charles Kennedy was forced out. Sir Ming Campbell resigned in October.

In an interview with the BBC the 66-year-old Scot said he took the decision alone, and explained he had been irritated and frustrated over standing down.

“Irritated because of the quite extraordinary concentration of trivia which seem to surround leadership. People write articles on what kind of socks I wear,” he said.

82% of readers who took part in a poll released earlier this week favour Mr Clegg, the MP for Sheffield Hallam.

Eastleigh MP Mr Huhne was chosen by 12% of participating readers as their choice.

Mr Clegg, 53, and Mr Huhne, 40, are both Westminster School-educated former MEPs with near-identical views nearly all the key issues.

Both became MPs as part of the Lib Dems strong showing in the 2005 elections. Both are English and will appeal to voters in key south and south east seats where the resurgent Tories are a major threat.

Indeed, Chris Huhne, currently his party’s spokesman on environment issues, has a majority of just 568 in his Hampshire seat.

Both candidates gave exclusive interviews to during the campaign.

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