Rivals united in tribute to defeated Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff

Defeated Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff. Photo: Ian Burt.

Defeated Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff. Photo: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

MEPs across the political spectrum paid tribute to defeated Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff who said he was full square behind his leader's tactic of taking on Nigel Farage in debates ahead of the European elections.

Labour MEP Richard Howitt described Mr Duff, who was an MEP for 15 years over three terms, as a distinguished member of the European Parliament, while UK Independence Party Stuart Agnew described him as the perfect gentleman.

Tory Vicky Ford also offering praise to her political opponent who she said had 'always been very polite and a true English gentleman'.

Mr Duff, admitted that it had not been a good evening, but said it had been expected.

'Junior members of the coalition are clobbered as a matter of course, and this is the thing that has happened. The problem has been confounded by a wave of nationalist sentiment across the country which I find pretty inexplicable and certainly completely not justifiable by the facts of the matter of our membership of the EU.'

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Amid speculation about Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's position heading the party, Mr Duff offered his support.

'I completely support Nick's tactic of taking on Farage, that was the correct thing to do to clarify the issues at stake to polarise the campaign, I am sorry that is wasn't more effective this time in turning electoral opinion.

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He said: 'As a party we are still here and we are still vigorous and we are committed to the values and principles which inform us including our strong belief that Britain must stay a member of the EU and make more of our memberships.

'The first thing I will have to do is look for employment elsewhere and I'm going to be quite busy with that and thanking the party workers for all the incredible time and effort that they have put to the campaign, and in supporting me for three terms as the member of parliament in the region here.'

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