Lib Dem leader calls for early general election amid Tory 'stitch up'


The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has said there must be a general election amid what he calls a "Tory stitch up" in favour of Theresa May following her former rival Andrea Leadsom's decision today to withdraw from the race to be the next Prime Minister.

Farron, who is an evangelical Christian, attacked his fellow Christian politician May, the daughter of a vicar, as "divisive, illiberal and calculating". The Home Secretary has "no right to govern," Farron said.

"Just 13 months after the last election the Conservatives have plunged the UK into chaos," said Farron. "It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned Prime Minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country. There must be an election. The Conservatives must not be allowed to ignore the electorate, their mandate is shattered and lies in ruins. Britain deserves better than this Tory stitch up."

Farron went on: "May has not set out an agenda, and has no right to govern. She has not won an election and the public must have their say. From her time as Home Secretary we know she is divisive, illiberal and calculating."

The Lib Dem leader, who was elected a year ago, has said he will campaign on reversing Brexit. "The Liberal Democrats will set out an optimistic, positive plan for Britain. We will stabilise the economy, improve education, deliver a new deal for our NHS, restore the green agenda and secure Britain's place at the heart of Europe," he said today.

Leadsom withdrew today after she faced heavy criticism including from within the Conservative party over comments she made in a Times interview on Saturday. She said she had "a very real stake" in the UK's future because she had children whereas May "possibly has nieces, nephews".

Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, has said he must consult the Conservative party board but indicated that May could be installed as prime minister within days.

There is some speculation in Westminster that despite Leadsom's controversial comments to the Times, May could have offered her a job in a new Conservative government.

May is in Birmingham today after delivering a speech in which she again emphasised that "Brexit means Brexit".