Nick Clegg has said he will not ‘walk away’ after calls were made for him to stand down as Liberal Democrat leader following the EU elections.
The Liberal Democrats now have just one MEP across the country after the election results, in which the party lost its representative in Yorkshire and Humber.
Some politicians and activists have called for the Sheffield Hallam MP to quit as party leader following the ‘staggeringly disappointing result’ – although he was backed by the party president and party colleagues.
And an online letter demanding a change of leader has been signed by around 250 people.
But Mr Clegg has insisted he is staying in place.
He said it was right to have ‘searching questions’ in the wake of such results.
He added: “The easiest thing in politics, and sometimes in life, when the going gets really, really tough, is just to walk away, to wash your hands of it.
“I’m not going to do that and my party’s not going to do that.
“The vast majority of Liberal Democrats do not believe we should lose our nerve and walk away.”
Party president Tim Farron had earlier said Mr Clegg should not face a leadership challenge and the party had ‘paid the price’ for fighting a pro-European campaign before the election.
Mr Clegg admitted the results had been a ‘huge setback’ but said he was ‘immensely proud’ of leading the party.
He told the BBC: “Uniquely in British politics, the Liberal Democrats decided to take on UKIP and argue for the things we believe in: a generous-hearted, open-minded, internationalist Britain.
“It didn’t work but it is right that we stood up for the values that we believe in.”
UKIP won half of the six Yorkshire and Humber MEP seats, Labour doubled its representation and the Conservatives won a seat.
The BNP also lost their seat.
* Visit www.thestar.co.uk for full details of the region’s new MEPs.