Nick Clegg resigns as Liberal Democrat leader
Lib Dems have left a ‘stronger, fairer, greener and more liberal country’ says Clegg
Nick Clegg resigned on Friday as leader of the Liberal Democrats after his party was crushed at the national election. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Nick Clegg has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats after disastrous results for the party in the UK general election.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Clegg admitted the results were “immeasurably more crushing” than he could have feared.
His party has been reduced to a rump of just eight seats following an election which a saw the party completely collapse even in its heartlands. It had 57 seats in the House of Commons in 2010.
The Sheffield Hallam MP reflected on Lib Dem achievements in government and said serving his country had been a privilege.
“I always expected this election to be exceptionally difficult for the Liberal Democrats given the heavy responsibilities we have had to bear in government in the most challenging of circumstances,” said Mr Clegg.“But clearly the results have been immeasurably more crushing and unkind than I could ever have feared. For that, of course, I must take responsibility.”
He added: “There can be no doubt we leave government with Britain a far stronger, fairer, greener and more liberal country than it was five years ago,” said Mr Clegg, adding that he believed the history books would “judge the party kindly” for the policies and values of “fairness and liberty” the party had brought to bear in government.
Mr Clegg warned against the rise of nationalism across Europe and the results of the “grinding insecurities of globalisation”.
“I hope that our leaders across the United Kingdom realise the disastrous consequences for our way of life and the integrity of the United Kingdom if they continue to appeal to grievance rather than generosity and fear rather than hope.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that in the absence of strong and statesman like leadership, Britain’s place in Europe and the world, and the continued existence of our United Kingdom, itself is now in grave jeopardy.
“Fear and grievance have won, liberalism has lost, but it is more precious than ever and we must keep fighting for it.”
Mr Clegg retained the seat he first won at the 2005 general election, swiftly becoming his party’s home affairs spokesman under Sir Menzies Campbell.
He won the leadership in 2007, beating off a challenge from Chris Huhne - who was later to resign from the Commons in disgrace.
Mr Clegg led the change for dramatic increases in the personal income tax allowance and working closely with David Laws at the department for education he oversaw the implementation of a pupil premium and free school meals for all infant school pupils.
However, he was seen to have betrayed voters after abandoning promises on tuition fees.
Additional reporting from Agencies