North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb among favourites for Lib Dem leadership as Tim Farron quits

Norman Lamb has warned about the 'chilling' impact of government funding plans on Fakenham's elderly

Norman Lamb has warned about the 'chilling' impact of government funding plans on Fakenham's elderly. Photo: Liberal Democrats - Credit: Liberal Democrats

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is among the front-runners to become leader of the Liberal Democrats after the shock resignation of Tim Farron.

Last night bookies quoted odds of 9/2 on Mr Lamb being the next leader – although he is yet to declare whether he will even stand.

In 2015 Mr Lamb was defeated by Mr Farron during the Lib Dems last leadership contest but he polled well gaining 43.5% of the vote.

Bookies have newly re-elected MP Jo Swinson as the favourite.

Mr Farron, an evangelical Christian who was repeatedly questioned during the General Election campaign as to whether he believed gay sex was a sin, said his religion had made him a 'subject of suspicion'.

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His shock announcement came just hours after the party's openly gay home affairs spokesman Lord Paddick said he was standing down citing 'concerns about the leader's views on various issues'.

In an emotional statement, Mr Farron, who had been in post less than a year, said he had been unable to reconcile his Christian faith with the demands of leading a 'progressive, liberal' party.

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'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,' he said.

'A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

'To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.'

In his statement, Mr Farron said the continued questions over his faith showed people in Britain were 'kidding ourselves' if they thought they were living in a tolerant liberal society.

'I'm a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me,' he said.

'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.'

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