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Sir Vince Cable to stand down as Liberal Democrats leader in May

Sir Vince Cable has been leader of the Liberal Democrats since 2017. Credit: PA

Sir Vince Cable has confirmed he will step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats in May.

In a statement, the 75-year-old said: "I indicated last year that once the Brexit story had moved on, and we had fought this year's crucial local elections in 9,000 seats across England, it would be time for me to make way for a new generation."

Mr Cable, who has been leader of the party since 2017 added: "I set considerable store by having an orderly, business-like, succession unlike the power struggles in the other parties.

"So I wanted you, our members, to know that, assuming Parliament does not collapse into an early general election, I will ask the party to begin a leadership contest in May."

The 75-year-old said 'it would be time for me to make way for a new generation'. Credit: PA

Mr Cable added: "It has been my great privilege to lead the Liberal Democrats at this crucial time.

"I inherited the leadership after two difficult and disappointing general elections.

"But I take pride in seeing the party recovering strongly, with last year's local election results the best in 15 years, record membership and a central role in the People's Vote campaign," he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable and Conservative MP Anna Soubry at the People's Vote march in October. Credit: PA

Deputy leader Jo Swinson tweeted: "It has been an honour to work with Vince for a more open, liberal & tolerant Britain."

She added: "He has helped Lib Dems through challenges of last two years and led us to some of our best local election results in a decade - and I'm confident we'll celebrate another strong set of wins in May."

Sir Vince Cable on the day he was named as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats with the deputy leader Jo Swinson. Credit: PA

The Lib Dems have languished in the polls and struggled electorally since going into government in coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.

Sir Vince lost his Twickenham seat in the mass defenestration of Lib Dem MPs at the 2015 General Election following their years of coalition with the Conservatives but he regained the seat in 2017.

He replaced Tim Farron as party leader in July 2017, who himself had replaced Nick Clegg two years earlier.