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Phil Hornby reports on resignation of Tim Farron

Tim Farron has resigned as Lib Dem leader Credit: ITV

Tim Farron has quit as Liberal Democrat leader less than a week after the General Election after facing scrutiny over his Christian views.

The 47-year-old, who succeeded Nick Clegg in the wake of the party's shocking 2015 election results, stood down hours after the party's senior frontbench spokesman Lord Paddick quit in protest at Mr Farron's views.

The few gains the Lib Dems made last week - such as Eastbourne and Oxford West and Abingdon - masked the real disappointment the party felt at their result, writes political correspondent Phil Hornby.

At their Brighton conference last autumn, confidence was sky-high: their strategy to appeal to the 48 per cent who voted Remain looked to them like a surefire and quick route tor recovery. It didn't happen.

Brexit didn't get much of a look-in during the campaign. Indeed Stephen Lloyd only won his Eastbourne seat by distancing himself from Farron's EU policy.

But there are other reasons too. Lib Dems say voter reaction to Farron's initially equivocal answers during the campaign to questions about gay sex was hostile and long-lasting. It seems he was enormously damaged.

Brits, it seems, don't like to mix politics with religion. It is significant that the event which seemed to lead to tonight's announcement was the resignation of Brian Paddick, the gay former senior Met policeman. So there will be a leadership contest in the Lib Dems - and more importantly for them, a real debate about what their future should be in a political system which seems to be moving back to the traditional 2-party Con v Lab fight.

– Phil Hornby

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Lib Dem leadership campaign comes South

A packed hall of more than 200 party faithful have heard the two contenders make a pitch to become the next leader of the Liberal Democrats. Tim Farron and Norman Lamb have both vowed to revive their party - which was decimated in last month's General Election. Richard Slee reports from Southampton.

  1. Phil Hornby

The South's Lib Dems prepare for party conference

The venue of the Liberal Democrats' 2013 party conference in Glasgow

Lib Dems from the south are arriving in sunny Glasgow for the start of their party conference. But weather forecasters say there will be severe storms tomorrow.

Nick Clegg will be hoping stormy scenes outside won't be reflected by stormy scenes inside. Already Lord Oakeshott from the Isle of Wight has suggested the party would be better off with a different leader.

MP's disciplinary meeting with Clegg

Click video. Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock is facing a disciplinary meeting with Nick Clegg next Monday - after being accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour in a civil court case.

The 66 year old - who denies the allegations - is being sued by one of his constituents. He was arrested in 2010 but a criminal investigation was dropped over insufficient evidence. Mr Hancock says he won't be bullied out of his job. Phil Hornby reports.

Hancock: New Lib Dem statement

“Following Mike Hancock’s receipt of legal papers in a High Court civil action, Nick Clegg asked the Chief Whip to convene an urgent meeting under the disciplinary procedures of the parliamentary party between Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes, the Chief Whip and Mike Hancock.

"This meeting will take place in Westminster on Monday afternoon.

“Mike Hancock strenuously denies the accusations. We are not pre-judging the outcome of the case, but given the seriousness of the allegations, Nick Clegg has instructed the Chief Whip to invoke the disciplinary procedures of the party.

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PICTURE: Clegg's childcare pledge for Kent children

Nick Clegg reads to children at the Bright Beginnings Nursery, Gravesend. Credit: John Ryall

Nick Clegg is in Kent today encouraging parents of toddlers to check if they can get free childcare.

From this September, the Government says 15 hours of free childcare a week will be made available to 3,100 two year olds from lower income backgrounds across the county.

The Deputy Prime Minister met parents, staff and children at the Bright Beginnings Nursery, Gravesend.

He said: “High quality early learning can make a huge difference to children at the start of their lives. By getting things right from the off, they are much more likely to be ready when they start school.

“I want to make sure no child in Kent loses out. I’m determined to help parents with young children and this is just a part of a wide range of measures, including £1,200 off childcare bills for working families and and allowing parents to share maternity leave for the first time from 2015.”

Parents can find out if their child is eligible by contacting either their local nursery provider or their local authority.

Places will initially be targeted on children from households which meet the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals and those who are looked after by their local authority.

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