With nominations closing today for the Liberal Democrat leadership contest, the election is shaping up to be a two-man race between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb.
The party veterans have both declared their candidacies to replace Nick Clegg, who stepped down after the General Election last month.
Ballot papers are set to be dispatched on 24 June, with a deadline for ballots to be returned of 15 July. A winner of the head-to-head battle is expected to be announced the next day, on 16 July, well ahead of the party’s annual conference in Bournemouth in September.
Whoever wins will be tasked with rebuilding the party, which went from being a coalition partner in the last government to numbering just eight MPs in the House of Commons.
Both Farron and Lamb have said they are encouraged by the party’s ability to attract over 14,000 new members since 7 May.
THE LIB DEM LEADERSHIP BATTLE
TODAY IS THE DEADLINE FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MPS TO BE NOMINATED IN THE CONTEST TO REPLACE NICK CLEGG
The popular Lake District MP has emerged as the odds-on front-runner to replace former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. Farron, who was first elected to the House of Commons in 2005, has served two terms as the Lib Dems’ president and has long been seen as the party’s heir apparent. Since announcing his candidacy early last month, the left-leaning Farron has distanced himself from the previous coalition government, while insisting he is the right person to rebuild the party after it lost 48 of its 56 MPs in the General Election.
Lamb has been an MP for North Norfolk since 2001, winning re-election at the last General Election with an impressive 39 per cent of the vote share. In the previous government, Lamb served as both minister of state for employment relations and minister of state for care and support. He also worked closely with former party leader Nick Clegg, having been Clegg’s parliamentary private secretary from 2010 to 2012. Despite being widely seen as a more centrist candidate than Farron, Lamb made headlines last week when he said the UK should legalise cannabis.