Party leader since 2017, Vince Cable has announced he will step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats in May, despite leading the party during the most crucial time in political history.
After the 2015 general election, the Lib Dems lost 49 out of 57 MPs in their party. As it stands, the Lib Dems are the joint-fourth largest party in the House of Commons, sitting with 11 MPs. This of course, is alongside the new party combining ex-Conservative and Labour MPs dubbed as ‘TIG’ which stands for “The Independent Group’’. Mr Cable has reportedly been quite critical of TIG, telling The Scotsman that “TIG was a flash in the pan with no prospect of winning seats in an election”. As a result this discredits any sight of a merger anytime soon. However, the Lib Dems continue to struggle in opinion polls and are contended to fall down lower than its competitors compared to previous years when it was in a coalition with the Conservatives.
Mr Cable leaving in May will set a 12-week contest. He aims for the next generation to replace him than to see power struggles as seen in the Conservative and Labour party. He also told the Mail that due to the issues recently from the Brexit, Mays deal and the potential of a No Deal has consequently left uncertainty for his party. However, he has said if a second referendum was called he would continue to stay on as leader. Cable has also recently criticised the labour party for not backing the support to vote for another referendum. He claims a people’s vote is the only way to resolve this from Brexit being a national crisis.
So what now?
Mr Cable said he will invoke a leadership election in May right after the local elections, opening the floor to new candidates.
Currently Jo Swinson has won the common opinion as frontrunner for Lib Dem leadership. That’s in front of her two competitors being Ed Davey, a former cabinet minister and Layla Moran, the Lib Dem’s education spokeswoman.
Swinson has backed a lot of support and confidence from her experience in government and her passion being in the Lib Dem party. Her time in the Lib Dems has involved working on maternity rights and equal pay.
Moran is also down to be a popular choice being a fresh face of the party. However, her inexperience may compromise her positioning. She has worked in the education sector, and aims to fight for better school provision.
Davey in comparison has been vocal on climate change and the renewal of liberalism. Being an environmentalist, he aims for sustainable food quality and the tackling of air pollution. He also advocates in renewable electricity as his policies in the past has been met and expect to be on track to beat the 30% target by 2020.
The successor of the Lib Dem that replaces Cable has many challenges to overcome with the way Brexit is going. They have to direct the party to handle the consequences of Brexit as well as what the TIG has to bring as this could threaten the future of the Lib Dem party.