BREAKING: Tim Farron has resigned as Liberal Democrats leader

Tim Farron.
Tim Farron.
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Tim Farron has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats this evening in a shock announcement.

He stepped down amid speculation that party heavyweight Vince Cable could step in to lead the party.

Mr Farron said it has felt "impossible" to be Lib Dem leader while "living as a faithful Christian."

In his resignation statement, he said: "The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

"A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

"To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

His resignation will trigger a leadership election next month.

Mr Farron faced criticism during the General Election campaign for failing to answer questions about his position on homosexuality.

He made it clear he supported equal marriage and LGBT rights, but in a broadcast interview did not say whether or not it was a sin.

After days of pressure to clarify his stance on the issue, Mr Farron made clear he does not believe gay sex is a sin.

The Lib Dems increased their seats from nine to 12 during last week’s general election.

It comes as senior Lib Dem frontbencher spokesman Lord Paddock resigned from his role as shadow secretary of state for the Home Office earlier today citing "concerns about the leader's views on various issues."

Lord Paddick, who was the most senior openly gay police officer in the UK serving as deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service from 2003 to 2007, announced his departure on Twitter.

The Lib Dem peer, who stood as the Lib Dem London mayoral candidate in 2008 and 2012, tweeted: "I've resigned as @LibDems Shadow Home Secretary over concerns about the leader's views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17."

Earlier today Mr Farron had announced plans for a deputy leadership election for the parliamentary party.