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Lib Dems to have leader by summer

Published 10/05/2015

Norman Lamb is likely to run for the Liberal Democrat leadership
Norman Lamb is likely to run for the Liberal Democrat leadership

The Liberal Democrats will have a new leader before Parliament breaks up for summer, the party has confirmed.

Despite reeling from devastating elections, the party said it had added 5,000 new members since Thursday's bloodbath.

Just eight Liberal Democrat MPs survived - including outgoing leader Nick Clegg - and the race is expected to be dominated by Tim Farron and Norman Lamb in a battle for the future of the party.

Nominations will open on Wednesday. To get on the ballot a contender must secure the endorsement of 10% of MPs - now less than one person - as well as 200 members from at least 20 local Liberal Democrat parties.

The wider membership then elects the winner via an alternative vote system, with the verdict due on July 16.

Liberal Democrat president Baroness Sal Brinton told Sky News: "We've had a tradition of fighting back from pretty difficult positions and we already have the evidence for it.

"In the last 48 hours since the polls closed over 5,000 people have joined the party and the numbers are going up as we speak and that means our total membership is now up to 50,000 and rising.

"So not even just members of the public are saying we want a Liberal voice in Britain and they are doing it in a very motivated way, coming straight on to the website and joining."

She added: "We know we have some major elections to fight next year, the Scottish parliament, the Welsh assembly, the London assembly as well as a very large number of council seats. We don't have to wait, we're out there campaigning now."

Greg Mulholland, the Leeds North West MP, immediately protested at the timetable. Mr Mulholland appears to have ruled himself out of the contest.

He said: "We must not - and will not - wait till July to have a new leader in place. We need strong leadership now."

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