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Tim Farron ‘too busy talking about gay sex’ to turn up for key Brexit votes

Nick Duffy July 17, 2018

Liberal Democrat MP and former leader Tim Farron (Matt Cardy/Getty)

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron was too busy attending an event addressing his views on gay sex to turn up for crucial votes on Brexit.

The UK government narrowly forced amendments through Parliament last night to make a ‘soft Brexit’ agreement much less likely, placing restrictions on any future customs agreement with the EU.

Due to a rebellion from Remain-backing Tory MPs, the ‘hard Brexit’ European Research Group amendments passed by a margin of just three votes – with several MPs failing to turn up or choosing to abstain from the motion.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty)

One of the MPs opposed to a hard Brexit who failed to attend was former Liberal Democtrat leader Tim Farron – who was otherwise engaged delivering a speech to a religious group about ‘Illiberal Truths’.

Farron was in Dorset to deliver a lecture at Sherbourne Abbey on his experiences as a Christian politician.

The MP was dogged throughout his leadership by questions about his beliefs on homosexuality. In an interview in January, Farron admitted that he had misled the public by claiming he did not believe gay sex to be sinful.

The Sherbourne Abbey event description explains that Farron had faced “repeated attempts by the mainstream media to get him to express an opinion on whether gay sex was compatible with Christian faith” and would be discussing ways  liberalism has “eaten itself”.

A spokesperson for the Abbey confirmed to PinkNews that Farron had attended per a “long-standing commitment” to speak.

Tim Farron
(Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty)

Although gay sex is explicitly referenced in the event description, a spokesperson insisted that homosexuality was “not mentioned” at the event, adding that Farron was talking about his experiences as a Christian and “values in contemporary society”.

His non-attendance in Parliament was laid into on social media.

In a statement, Farron said: “I was authorised to be absent due to a pre-arranged engagement away from the Parliamentary estate.

“In the end nobody expected the vote to be as close as it was — I’d actually cancelled the engagement earlier on, but then uncancelled because we expected Labour to abstain and the Government to win by miles.

“We clearly called it wrong, as did Labour. I take full responsibility for my part. The Tories don’t deserve any luck, I’m so sorry I inadvertently granted them some.”

The ex-leader, an evangelical Christian, previously said he “regrets” saying gay sex is not sinful, admitting: “I foolishly and wrongly attempted to push it away by giving an answer that frankly was not right.”

Current Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, who also missed the vote due to a speaking commitment elsewhere, has distanced himself from Farron’s beliefs on homosexuality – even as the ex-leader continues to serve on his frontbench.

Sir Vince previously tweeted: “I strongly disagree with @timfarron’s personal views. @libdems have a long & proud record of fighting for #LGBT+ rights: campaigning to repeal section 28, equalising age of consent and legislating for equal marriage.

“I will continue to champion rights and dignity.”

PinkNews asked Sir Vince why he had appointed Mr Farron to his frontbench back in November.

Sir Vince said that he hoped for Farron to play a “substantial” role in the party’s future, telling PinkNews: “He’s obviously learnt from that unfortunate episode.

“As I say, he apologised, stepped down as leader, but he’s a very good liberal and genuinely a liberal. His voting record is exemplary on gay rights issues.

Vince Cable and Tim Farron in happier days (Jack Taylor/Getty)

“He led the fight on refugees, is very strongly committed to the European project, [which] is the big issue of the day. He’s now committing himself to defending both his majority in parliament and on foreign affairs and on issues around the north of England.”

Sir Vince Cable told PinkNews at the time: “It was very unfortunate, the difficulties Tim had with squaring his Evangelical Christianity with the long-term commitment of the party to LGBT equality.

“It became an election issue among lots of supporters and lots of gay people.

“I don’t think it was handled very well… it did us quite a lot of political damage and we all know that. I am keen to get us back on track.”

(Oli Scarff/Getty)

Sir Vince added: “We do need [to be tolerant]. We are a party committed to equality and that includes gay rights, but the simple truth is we have millions of people in the country who are committed Christians, Jews, Muslims who have a different view.

“We need to stand our ground in defence of secular values, but understand that people are coming at this from a different point of view in religious terms. I don’t think the two are inconsistent.”

More: brexit, Christian, Church, Farron, Gay, gay sex, LGBT, Religion, Sex, tim farron

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