Tim Farron resigns as Liberal Democrat leader citing gay sex questions and faith
Tim Farron has resigned as the leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Farron announced this afternoon that he would step down, following the results of last week’s general election.
The Lib Dems gained three seats in last week’s election, but had a difficult campaign marred by repeated spats over Tim Farron’s views on homosexuality.
He said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Mr Farron said he had taken the decision to quit voluntarily and that he still had the support of his party.
He spoke of the “personal quandary” he had found himself in and that question about his faith had “distracted” from his party’s election campaign.
Mr Farron, who is an evangelical Christian, spent weeks dodging questions about whether he thinks gay sex is a sin before ultimately saying he does not.
He said in his statement today that he should have dealt with that situation “more wisely”.
In a Q&A with PinkNews before the election, Mr Farron said: “I am a proud advocate of LGBT equality and have a track record that demonstrates that.
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“Initially I chose not to speak out on my views on gay sex as I really didn’t think anyone would want the General Election campaign to turn into a theological debate.
“As a leader of a political party, I don’t (and never will) see my role as making theological pronouncements. Nor did I think my role was to judge what is or isn’t a sin.
“However, it transpired that people formed an impression of me that was false and so I chose to speak out.
“I have made my view clear and now I hope the debate can move forward to addressing the massive injustices many LGBT+ people face in our society and abroad.”
Mr Farron took over as Lib Dem leader following the 2015 election result and Nick Clegg stepped down.
The party gained four seats, going from eight to 12 last week, but its vote share dropped.
It is expected that the leadership will be taken over by Jo Swinson, Vince Cable or Norman Lamb.
Earlier today gay Lib Dem peer Lord Paddick quit as the party’ Shadow Home Secretary over a rift with leader Tim Farron.