Tim Farron has quit as Liberal Democrat leader, claiming his faith made him "the subject of suspicion"

 
Mark Sands
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Farron led the party to grow its total of MPs by a third at the General Election (Source: Getty)

Tim Farron is to quit as Liberal Democrat leader, despite leading the party to an improved position in last week's general election.

The party had just nine MPs prior to the ballot, but managed to secure a total of 12, despite losing five along the way.

In a statement, Farron claimed he had been "the subject of suspicion" because of his faith, adding that he was "torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader".

The Lib Dem leader also admitted he should have dealt "more wisely" with questions relating to his faith during the election campaign, including his views on gay sex, which became a millstone around Farron's neck during the campaign.

It come just hours after former senior policeman and Lib Dem peer Brian Paddick quit the party's frontbench team earlier today in protest over some of the party leader's views, including Farron's answers on questions relating to his beliefs on homosexuality.

Leaving his role as shadow home affairs spokesman, Paddick said: "I've resigned as @LibDems Shadow Home Secretary over concerns about the leader's views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17."

https://twitter.com/brianpaddick/status/874976886069374976

Farron's decision will spark speculation about future leaders for the party, which saw three former ministers all return to Westminster last week after defeats in 2015.

Former business secretary Vince Cable, former minister Jo Swinson and former energy secretary Ed Davey all regained seats at the General Election.

Ladbrokes have immediately made Swinson favourite for the role.

The Lib Dems had experienced a mini-revival under Farron, in particular since last summer's Brexit vote, with large numbers joining the party as it vowed to represent "the 48 per cent" - voters who wanted to Remain in the EU.

However, despite gaining seats last week, the strategy failed to pay dividends, with the party losing in seats like Richmond, where it had previously unseated the Eurosceptic Zac Goldsmith.

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