Election 2015: Ed Miliband resigns as party leader
- Credit: PA
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have all stepped down following the general election result.
Ed Miliband has quit as Labour leader after a dramatic election night where his party was virtually wiped out in Scotland and David Cameron achieved a Commons majority.
Reflecting on the devastating results after 30 seconds of applause, Mr Miliband said he took “absolute and total responsibility” for the result, offering apologies to big Labour beasts including Ed Balls and Jim Murphy who were defeated overnight.
He added: “Britain needs a strong Labour Party, Britain needs a Labour Party that can rebuild after this debate so we can have a government that stands up for working people again.
“And now it is time for someone else to take forward the leadership of this party. So I am tendering my resignation, taking effect after this afternoon’s commemoration of VE Day at the Cenotaph.
“I want to do so straight away because the party needs to have an open and honest debate about the right way forward, without constraint.”
Rather than breaking through as forecast by opinion polls, Labour saw losses to the Tories in key marginal seats and failed to win the Conservatives most vulnerable constituencies.
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Mr Miliband’s departure became inevitable after a night in which Labour was blown away north of the border by the Scottish Nationalists while failing to take any seats from the Conservatives.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy were among the high profile victims in a result which has shaken the party to its core.
Mr Clegg also had little choice but to quit after the Lib Dems’ tally of MPs was reduced from 56 to a rump of just eight, with Business Secretary Vince Cable, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, and Energy Secretary Ed Davey among the fallers.
While Mr Clegg acknowledged that the Lib Dems had paid the price for five years in coalition with the Tories, he said the history books would judge their time in government “kindly”.
And he warned that the UK was at a “very perilous point” where the politics of grievance and fear risked driving the country apart.
“It is no exaggeration to say that, in the absence of strong and statesmanlike leadership, Britain’s place in Europe and the world and the continued existence of our United Kingdom itself is now in grave jeopardy,” he said.
Nigel Farage also confirmed he would be standing down as UKIP leader after finishing second in Thanet South.
Mr Farage told activists that “I’m a man of my word” – he had previously pledged to quit if he did not gain a parliamentary seat.
But Mr Farage raised the prospect he would consider running to return to the job after a summer off when the contest is held in September.
Mr Farage said he would recommend Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, be a stand-in leader until the leadership challenge is complete.
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