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Liberal Democrat rising star Layla Moran rules herself out of party leadership race

3 min read

Rising star of the Liberal Democrats Layla Moran has ruled herself out of the race to succeed Sir Vince Cable as the party’s next leader.

The Oxford West and Abingdon MP, who was first elected in 2017, was among the frontrunners tipped to take over the Lib Dem veteran, who is expected to stand down imminently.

In a statement however, Ms Moran said she did not believe she could take on the “busy role” of leading the party while fulfilling her duties as an MP after just two years in the job.

“I am very grateful to the large number of constituents, supporters, party members and elected representatives who have encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring in the forthcoming Liberal Democrat Leadership contest,” she said.

“As a relatively new MP, however, my first priority has to be to serve my constituents to the best of my ability…

“I hope they consider that I am doing a good job so far, but I do not believe that I would be able to continue to do so to the standard they have the right to expect if I took on the busy role of party leader as well."

“For this reason, I wrote to local party members earlier this week to let them know that I would not be standing for the leadership this time.”

The decision comes two months after Ms Moran faced intense scrutiny after she revealed that she had once been arrested for lashing out at her then-boyfriend during an incident six years ago.

In a statement in March she said: "In 2013, [we] had a row at the autumn conference in Glasgow that initially began over a lost computer cable.

"The relationship had come under enormous strain in preceding months and regrettably, it escalated and in the heat of the moment I slapped him because I felt threatened.

"We both recognise it wasn't our finest hour and were, both at the time and continue to be, grateful that the police mediated, and calmed things down."

Ms Moran’s decision to pull out of the race leaves former minister Jo Swinson as the clear favourite to take over and become the first woman to hold the top Lib Dem job.

Sir Vince announced in March that he would stand aside this month, however it is widely expected that he will delay announcing a timetable on his departure until after the EU elections.

It comes amid a bounce in support for the pro-EU outfit, which is expected to benefit from anti-Brexit voters at next week’s vote.

The party – which is campaigning on a “B******s to Brexit” message – is currently one point behind Labour on 15%, according to the most recent YouGov poll.

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is in the lead with 34% of support, and the Tories have fallen to fifth place with just 10% of public backing.

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