Kennedy quits Lib Dem leadership

Charles Kennedy has quit as Liberal Democrat leader just days after pledging to fight a leadership contest intended to stamp his authority on the party.

Charles Kennedy has quit as Liberal Democrat leader just days after pledging to fight a leadership contest intended to stamp his authority on the party.

On Thursday Mr Kennedy admitted he had misled the public over the extent of his drink problem, confessing that he had undergone professional treatment for alcoholism.

But he said he was still competent to lead the party and called on party officials to stage a ballot to give members the chance to decide whether he should continue at the top.

Leading members of the party - including possible rivals Sir Menzies Campbell, currently deputy leader, and home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten - quickly said they would not stand against him, but the move failed to dispel doubts over Mr Kennedy's continued stewardship.


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On Saturday the embattled leader announced he would not after all stand for re-election and blamed increasingly public dissent from Lib Dem MPs, nearly half of whom had called on him to quit.

He said: “In the recent weeks and days I have been inundated by messages of support from party members and activists throughout the country. It means a great deal to me - which I have appreciated enormously.

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“However, it is clear that such support is not reflected strongly enough across the parliamentary party in the House of Commons itself.”

Mr Kennedy had been party leader for six years, beating current party president Simon Hughes in the election to replace Paddy Ashdown.

Mr Hughes is now second favourite to take over, behind Sir Menzies, with Mark Oaten, Nick Clegg, Ed Davey and David Laws among other possible candidates.

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