Outgoing Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has revealed in an interview with the BBC that he made his decision to stand down as leader before the general election:
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live’s Emma Barnett, Mr Farron said that under his leadership, the party had “left intensive care and is back relevant”.
“My job was to save the party,” he said.
“The Liberal Democrats still exist and we’re moving forward.”
Mr Farron faced repeated questions about his views on gay sex during the campaign, and when he announced his resignation, said he had found it impossible to be a committed Christian and lead a “progressive liberal party”.
Asked about his decision to quit, he said he had not wanted to “become the story”.
“I made the decision about two weeks into the election campaign,” he said.
“I thought there isn’t a way forward out of this without me either compromising or just causing damage to the party in the long run.”
He said he had told himself to “put that into a drawer, don’t talk to anybody else about it, get on and do as good a job as you can during the election”. [BBC]
One footnote is important to add to this. It wasn’t being a committed Christian in itself that was the issue, it was being a committed Christian with the particular views that Tim holds which was the issue. Many other committed Christians, such as party president Sal Brinton, have played and do play senior roles in the party without their faith causing the sort of tension that Tim found unable resolve.
UPDATE: More about the pressure Tim Farron felt under, including over his comments that gay sex are not a sin – which he felt pressured into – came out during a post-election interview.