Lib Dem leader Tim Farron resigns: 'It's a choice between party leadership and Christ'

Tim Farron took over as Liberal Democrat leader in July 2015 after a disastrous election campaign under Nick CleggReuters

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has resigned his position because he is 'torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader'.

The resignation follows close behind that of Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary, Lord Paddick who tweeted he had stepped down 'over concerns about the leader's views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17'.

Farron was repeatedly quizzed by interviewers about his views on homosexuality and at times appeared to struggle with the questioning before eventually saying he did not think gay sex was a sin.

In his resignation statement he says: 'From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I've tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

'At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

'Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit. The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.'

Farron stresses he does not believe Christians should 'impose the tenets of faith on society', saying that view was 'not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel'.

He says he is a 'liberal to his fingertips' and that 'liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me'.

However, he says: ' Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

'In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society. That's why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.'

He concludes: 'I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.

'Imagine how proud I am to lead this party. And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour.

'In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something "so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all".'

He intends to serve until the parliamentary recess begins next month. Among possible replacements are Vince Cable and Jo Swinson, both former ministers who have reclaimed their former seats.

The director of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, Sarah Latham, told Christian Today: 'We are saddened by the news of Tim's resignation. He has been a great leader and inspiration to many of us at LDCF. He has turned the party around in a very short space of time, doubling the membership and increasing our number of MPs. We are thankful for him and absolutely stand with him at what is undoubtedly a difficult time.

"Sadly his resignation reflects the fact we live in a society that is still illiberal in many ways and is intolerant of political leaders having a faith. This urgently needs to change. It will only change if Christians step up and get involved in all areas of life and change the rhetoric, whether in politics, media, business, or the arts. We need to bring about a society that is truly liberal – where everyone of all faiths and none are valued and considered equal.'