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Vince Cable is new leader of Liberal Democrats

The former business secretary succeeds Tim Farron.

Sir Vince Cable has become the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The former business secretary, 74, took up the role after nominations for the post closed without him facing any challengers.

The move comes after Tim Farron announced he would stand down because he had been unable to reconcile his Christian faith with the demands of leading a “progressive, liberal” party.

A disappointing general election campaign saw the party increase its tally of MPs by just three to stand at 12.

Sir Vince said Labour and the Tories had “abandoned” mainstream economics and claimed there was a need to prepare “an exit from Brexit”.

He said: “There is a huge gap in the centre of British politics and I intend to fill it. As the only party committed to staying in the single market and customs union, the Liberal Democrats are alone in fighting to protect our economy.

“It will soon become clear that the Government can’t deliver the painless Brexit it promised. So, we need to prepare for an exit from Brexit. Theresa May wants to take Britain back to the 1950s while Jeremy Corbyn wants to take Britain back to the 1970s. I will offer an optimistic, alternative agenda to power the country into the 2020s and beyond.

“We have a Government that can’t govern and an opposition that can’t oppose. Labour and the Conservatives have formed a grand coalition of chaos, driving through a hard Brexit which would deliver a massive blow to living standards. Both parties have abandoned mainstream economics. I want to put economics back centre stage.

“Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will be at the centre of political life: a credible, effective party of national government.

“We have doubled our membership and our new members have given the party enormous energy. I want to give leadership to that energy, hitting the headlines and putting our party at the centre of the national debate.”

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