Norman Lamb rules out Lib Dem leadership bid over party's 'toxic' Brexit stance

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Liberal Democrats annual conference 2015

Former health minister Norman Lamb has ruled out a challenge for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, warning the party's position on Brexit had become "toxic" for many voters.

Mr Lamb, who ran unsuccessfully against Tim Farron in 2015, said he would not be putting himself forward as a candidate to succeed him.

In article posted on The Guardian website, he expressed sympathy for voters in his North Norfolk constituency, who voted heavily for Leave in last year's referendum and who felt the party was ignoring their concerns.

"Not only was the party's position on Brexit toxic to many erstwhile Liberal Democrat voters in North Norfolk, but I found myself sympathising with those who felt that the party was not listening to them and was treating them with some disdain," he wrote.

He also disclosed that he had faced accusations of "betrayal" after he abstained in the Commons vote on triggering Article 50 rather than follow the party line and vote against it.

"It is actually quite tough to go against your party, and I did it on a matter of principle," he said.

Former business secretary Sir Vince Cable is the only candidate to declare so far following Mr Farron's announcement last week that he was resigning.