Norman Lamb’s brutally-honest explanation of why he did not run for Liberal Democrat leader
- Credit: Liberal Democrats
I will not be standing to become the next Liberal Democrat leader.
In many ways I'm really sad about that. I think there is a real need for political leaders, in these troubled times, who seek to bring people together, rather than dividing people.
There's a need for some straight talking about the challenges we face and how we can meet them. I felt I could offer a different style of politics - less tribal, more willing to work across the party divide, in the national interest.
However, I concluded that my candidacy was not viable.
Brexit has divided the nation but it has also split families and friends and created new divisions within political parties. I campaigned and voted for Remain, despite deep frustrations with the way in which the EU has developed - over centralised, insufficiently accountable and too often sclerotic in the face of massive challenges.
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My preference was to keep pursuing the case for reform from within. But my side of the argument lost. And, bluntly, I have to accept that outcome and seek to achieve the best way forward for our country. So when I was asked to vote against the triggering of Article 50, I refused to do it.
For some in my party, my refusal to follow the party whip on this was an act of betrayal. That reaction smacked of an intolerance which I found unattractive in a Liberal party. The result of all this was that when it came to the General Election I felt I had to fight an acutely personal campaign, based on what I stand for rather than identifying myself with a position which I felt showed a disregard for how people voted in the referendum.
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It's always dangerous to give the impression that you think voters are stupid or misguided and that we know better.
Following Tim Farron's resignation, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people, inside and outside the party who have contacted me, urging me to stand for the leadership.
But, after much soul-searching and anguish, I reached the conclusion that I could not go, in one short leap, from distancing myself from the national party on an issue of profound importance to our country to leading it just a few weeks later.
I am immensely grateful to the people of North Norfolk that they showed faith in me and re-elected me to serve as their Member of Parliament. It's an immense honour and I will do my best to repay their trust.
Many Members of Parliament take on other duties at a national level. I have had the incredible honour of serving as a Government minister. But I have never neglected North Norfolk and I would not have done, had I ended up as leader of my party.
That is not to be and my commitment to North Norfolk remains as strong as ever.