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Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams resigns following election disaster

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales, Kirsty Williams, has resigned.

It follows a disastrous night for the party, before the Assembly Elections there were five Lib Dem AMs, this morning there was only one, herself.

Kirsty Williams resigns as the Lib Dem party leader in Wales Credit: PA

The loss of four Assembly Members means Kirsty Williams will be the only Lib Dem in the Senedd.

Williams successfully defended her Brecon and Radnorshire seat at this morning's count.

She won 52% of the vote - increasing her share by almost 10%.

But that was not reflected elsewhere in Wales as UKIP swept up seven seats for the first time.

Despite our best efforts, and a positive campaign, it has not been enough. And for that, I must take responsibility.

In these new circumstances, the party will want to reflect and consider the way forward and that will require new leadership. So today I'm announcing my resignation as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

– Kirsty Williams
Kirty Williams won her Brecon and Radnorshire seat. Credit: ITV News

In the first Welsh Assembly the Lib Dems formed a coalition with Labour in 2000. The two partiess shared power with Lib Dems members becoming ministers.

The Lib Dems highest number of AMs was six.

Kirsty Williams' statement in full:

I can’t tell you how much of a privilege it has been to serve this party as leader over the last eight years, but with that privilege comes responsibility.

Despite our best efforts, and a positive campaign, it has not been enough.

And for that, I must take responsibility.

In these new circumstances, the party will want to reflect and consider the way forward and that will require new leadership. So today I'm announcing my resignation as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The party will be making a further announcement about the leadership once the National Executive Committee has met tomorrow afternoon.

Despite last night's disappointing result, I remain heartened that over the last twelve months more and more new members have joined the Welsh Liberal Democrats. In time, I know this will show through in election results too. I am proud people continue to sign up to be part of the Welsh Liberal Democrat family - one forged in its collective optimism, passion and sheer bloody-mindedness.

No-one is an accidental Welsh Liberal. It’s not passed down the generations with unquestioned loyalty. It’s not an easy route to changing Wales for the better. Nor is it a safe seat for life. But that just makes those victories we have even sweeter: changing the educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged pupils; delivering more apprenticeships so young people can make better lives for themselves; making our NHS better and safer with more nurses; the list goes on.

No-one can tell me the Welsh Liberal Democrats haven’t made a difference.

While I don’t regret the decision we took as a party in 2010 to enter into coalition, on days like this, it is only human to question our sacrifice. I am hugely disappointed to lose my colleagues Aled, Eluned, Peter, and William in the Assembly. All of whom were excellent Assembly Members and all of whom I know will continue to make a positive difference in their communities.

I feel confident in saying that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have always punched way above our weight in the Assembly at holding the Welsh Government to account. That has only been possible due to the fantastic behind the scenes teams we have always had, and for whose work I will forever be thankful.

And of course, most of all I would like to thank my family. They have been my rock throughout the last eight years. It’s not easy living with a politician, let alone the leader of a political party, but they have always stood by me, especially when times have got tough.

While it is my intention to stand down as leader I am proud that the people of Brecon and Radnorshire once more put their faith in me to represent them.

When I return to the Assembly, while Welsh Liberal Democrat voices may not be as numerous as before, the people of Brecon and Radnorshire can be assured that their voice will be heard louder than ever.

I’m sure pundits will give us a fuller picture of events over the next few days, yet it is clear that the rise of UKIP shows that the politics of blame and resentment is catching on here in Wales.

This is not the Wales I know. Liberals believe that diversity and tolerance is a strength, not a weakness. People who think likewise, across all parties, need to unite and not turn a blind eye. We have a fight on our hands to ensure fear doesn’t win the day.

When I became leader back in 2008, I spoke of the flame of liberty that once shone so brightly in Wales and of my intention to re-ignite it. The truth is that the stormy political weather tested the endurance of that flame, but it hasn’t been extinguished.

It may not be burning as brightly as it once did, but we must never let it extinguish. The road to recovery is a long one, but a rewarding one too, and I have every faith that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will once again do what we do best: fight for our communities across Wales.

– Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrats

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