South Lakes MP Tim Farron has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats saying he has found himself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.
Mr Farron, who has led the party since 2015, and has represented Westmorland and Lonsdale in parliament since 2015, said that to be the leader of a progressive, liberal party and to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has “felt impossible”.
A new leader for the party will be elected soon.
The married father of four, who lives in Milnthorpe, said: “From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.
“I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience.
“Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.
At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith.
“I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.
“Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.
“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. I’m a liberal to my fingertips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.
“There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it - it’s not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.
“Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case, we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.
“That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.”
Mr Farron has come under fire after repeatedly refusing to answer the question ‘is gay sex a sin?’
He eventually responded to say that he didn’t think it was. He added: “I intend to serve until the parliamentary recess begins next month, at which point there will be a leadership election according to the party’s rules.
“This is a historic time in British politics. What happens in the next months and years will shape our country for generations.
“My successor will inherit a party that is needed now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.
The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more. People who will fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate are needed more than ever before.”