Kennedy resignation leads to Lib Dem leadership contest

The Liberal Democrats are set for a leadership battle, following Charles Kennedy's resignation on Saturday.

The party's deputy leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, is the only candidate to announce his intention to run for the leadership so far.

Sir Menzies, 64, is currently acting leader of the party, following Mr Kennedy's resignation after admitting last week to his problems with alcohol addiction.

According to reports, Sir Menzies has the support of 23 of the party's 62 MPs.

Former party leader, Lord Ashdown, has announced his "clear and unequivocal" support for Sir Menzies this morning in an interview with BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme.

Party President Simon Hughes and the party's home affairs spokesperson Mark Oaten are seen as the two likeliest candidates to challenge Sir Menzies, although neither has yet declared their intention to stand.

Mr Kennedy announced his resignation on Saturday, two days after making a personal statement in which he admitted having a drink problem. His resignation came after 25 MPs threatened to resign from the frontbench team unless he stood down as party leader.

It is feared that Mr Kennedy's resignation could lead to a split between MPs and party members, amid reports of accusations of a 'plot' by party MPs to remove Mr Kennedy - claims which have been denied by senior MPs.

Mr Kennedy has urged the party to hold a leadership contest to determine the next party leader. During his resignation speech, he said: "When I made my personal statement on Thursday afternoon I said then that I thought it was only fair to give our party members their say over my continuing leadership.

"We fought for and founded this party on the fundamental principle of one member - one vote. I urge them to stick with us and to exercise that right in the leadership election."

The party's Federal Executive will draw up a timetable for the leadership election at a meeting this evening.


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