Norman Lamb’s brutally-honest explanation of why he did not run for Liberal Democrat leader

Norman Lamb. Picture: Liberal Democrats.

Norman Lamb. Picture: Liberal Democrats. - 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.

You may also want to watch:

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.

Most Read

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.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter