Former Lib Dem leader to retire at next election

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has confirmed he will stand down as an MP at the next election.

Sir Vince has represented his Twickenham constituency since 1997 and served as business secretary in the coalition government.

After losing his seat at the 2015 general election, he regained his job as MP for the south-west London area at the snap poll two years later and took over the Lib Dem leadership from Tim Farron, continuing to lead the party in its opposition to Brexit.

He stood down as head of the party after the May local elections and was replaced by East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson after she defeated Sir Ed Davey in the leadership election last month.

European Parliament election
Sir Vince Cable pictured out campaigning while Lib Dem leader (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “Vince has enjoyed a fantastic parliamentary career in the Liberal Democrats and representing the people of Twickenham.

“He will continue to serve as the MP until the next election, whenever that may be.”

In a bid to ensure candidates are in place in the event of a snap general election, the Lib Dems sent emails on Wednesday to prospective parliamentary candidates about replacing Sir Vince in Twickenham, a move that lifted the lid on his plans to retire from Westminster life.

A party spokesman said it had always been the 76-year-old’s intention to stand down as an MP following his decision to resign as leader.

When he became leader in 2017, he was the oldest person to be appointed head of a major party since Winston Churchill.

Sir Vince attempted to push through a number of reforms while leader in an attempt to make his party more attractive to those wanting to remain in the European Union and allowing them to become affiliates, but members voted down the shake-up.

Chuka Umunna joins Lib Dems
Sir Vince Cable pictured with ex-Change UK MP Chuka Umunna after he announced he was defecting to join the Liberal Democrats (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Under his leadership, the Lib Dems witnessed a grassroots revival, with the party taking control of a host of councils during the May local elections, including stunning results in Chelmsford in Essex and gaining the likes of Winchester and North Devon.

He also played a role in convincing ex-Labour and Change UK MP Chuka Umunna to switch his allegiance to the Lib Dems.

Sir Vince, a one-time Labour Party member and ex-economics lecturer, appeared on the Christmas edition of television programme Strictly Come Dancing in 2010. The keen ballroom dancer performed the foxtrot and even scored a perfect 10 mark from head judge Len Goodman.

He was knighted in David Cameron’s 2015 dissolution honours in recognition of his services to political and public life. A grandfather. he is married and has three children.

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