Sir Vince Cable is set to stand down from his role as leader of the Liberal Democrat party, he revealed in an interview with The Daily Mail.
Cable will stand aside and allow the Lib Dems to elect a new leader in May, after the local elections. The Twickenham MP previously claimed he would step down once Brexit had been resolved or halted. But he revealed his reasons for quitting in this interview: “It [Brexit] now looks as if it will be a protracted process, and may never happen.”
The Liberal Democrat party currently have 11 MPs and one of those will become the new leader as the party heads for a new direction.
Here are three candidates to become Cable’s successor and why they could be suitable for the role.
The natural frontrunner will be Jo Swinson - who is the current deputy leader of the Lib Dems. She tweeted following Cable’s resignation, describing him as “a voice of reason in unreasonable times”.
The East Dunbartonshire MP was tipped to contest for Lib Dem leadership when Farron stepped aside in June 2017 but instead she assumed the role of deputy leader. Now Swinson is seen as the natural successor to Cable, which could make her the first ever Lib Dem female leader.
Swinson has the perfect blend of youth and experience. She has performed a variety of roles for the Lib Dems which will equip her with the breadth of knowledge required for party leadership.
It would be a fresh approach and a new direction for the Lib Dems with a 39-year-old woman potentially replacing 75-year-old Cable.
Layla Moran is another candidate that could break the mould. As a 36-year-old woman, Moran would bring a completely different outlook to the Lib Dem party.
She has informally confirmed her interest on Twitter, replying to a tweet asking her to run for leadership.
There are two primary concerns with Moran. Firstly, she only holds a three-figure majority, winning her seat by just 816 votes in the last election. Secondly, she was only elected as an MP in 2017 and this lack of experience could damage her chances of winning a leadership contest.
But what the Oxford West and Abingdon MP lacks in political experience, she makes up for in real world experience. Moran is the first MP of Palestinian descent and she previously worked as a teacher, which gave her a firsthand insight ahead of becoming the Lib Dems’ Education spokesperson.
This leadership contest could be too soon for Moran, but she is definitely one to watch in the future.
Ed Davey has also been tipped to run for election. The Kingston and Surbiton MP is currently the Home Affairs spokesperson for the Lib Dems.
On Twitter, Davey paid tribute to outbound Cable, saying: “The country owe you a huge debt of gratitude.”
Davey was first elected in 1997, making him the most experienced of the three frontrunners. He is a respected Lib Dem member who has filled a variety of roles in his political career, such as being Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change under the coalition government.
The 53-year-old is known to be organised and is keen on running for leadership to promote liberalism in the battle against rising national populism. Davey’s experience and clear direction are two factors which make him a strong candidate for the leadership.
Cable and Farron are the two MPs ruled out of this leadership contest, meaning that six others could be in with a shout.
Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) stood for leadership in 2015 but was beaten by Farron. Running for leadership again seems unlikely given the fact that he had a stroke less than a year ago due to overworking.
Having first been elected in 1997, Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) is the longest-serving current Lib Dem MP to have never lost his seat. Brake has held various frontbench and backbench roles during his time as an MP, and his experience makes him a potential outside candidate for the leadership.
Wera Hobhouse (Bath) has the second largest majority, after Cable, winning her seat by more than 5,000 votes. Formerly a Conservative councillor, Hobhouse now oversees Energy and Climate Change for the Lib Dems.
Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) could feasibly be a candidate for leadership because of his longevity in Westminster. He was first elected in 2001 and was the only Scottish Lib Dem to survive the 2015 general election without losing his seat, following Nick Clegg’s controversial decision to form a coalition with the Tories.
Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) is a former journalist turned politician but as a relative newcomer, her chances of becoming leader are slim.
Aged 64, Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) is the second oldest Lib Dem MP after Cable. Stone was only elected as an MP in 2017 and is unlikely to be in the running.
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