POLITICS

Vince Cable Elected Lib Dem Leader Unopposed With Promise To Prepare For 'Exit From Brexit'

Tim Farron resigned in the wake of the general election campaign.

20/07/2017 16:45 BST | Updated 20/07/2017 17:21 BST

Vince Cable has become the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

He was the only candidate.

The 74-year-old former business secretary said he wanted to help lead an “exit from Brexit” with a second referendum. He had previously argued a second referendum would be “disrespectful”.

Amid internal-Tory arguments over Brexit, Cable said while Philip Hammond was at least a “grown up” while Boris Johnson was “in short trousers” and Liam Fox was “in nappies”.

Tim Farron quit as Lib Dem leader in the wake of the general election result which saw the party increase its number of MPs from 9 to 12.

Speaking at the announcement of his successor in Westminster, Farron said Cable was “the wisest person in parliament”.

Cable said he would put forward an “optimistic, alternative agenda” that would “put economics back centre stage”.

“It will soon become clear that the government can’t deliver the painless Brexit it promised. So, we need to prepare for an exit from Brexit,” he said.

“The exit from Brexit comes as a result of the policy we have adopted which is that we must consult the British public at the end of the process - to put to them the choice - do you wish to accept what is coming down the track, jumping off a cliff and hoping there is a tree to catch you? Or do we want to stay within the EU?”

Cable added:“There is a huge gap in the centre of British politics and I intend to fill it. As the only party committed to staying in the single market and customs union, the Liberal Democrats are alone in fighting to protect our economy.”

And he rejected suggestions he was only be a caretaker leader. “I will serve for as long as I need. I am not here for the short term, I am not here as a caretaker,” he said.

Neil Hall / Reuters

Farron resigned after deciding he could not reconcile being leader of the party with his Christian faith.

His election campaign was dogged by repeated questions over whether he believed gay sex was a sin or not.

Speaking today, Farron offered a strong defence of his decision to run an overtly pro-EU election campaign with the offer of a second referendum.

“I made a choice. I took a risk. We made a choice. We took a risk. We chose to adopt the backbone that Jeremy Corbyn lacks and the decisiveness that has deserted Theresa May - to stand up for Britain’s place at the heart of Europewhen everyone else had chickened out,” he said.

Lib Dem president Sal Brinton said Cable has inherited a party in “excellent health” and that Farron had left it in a “very strong place”.