UK’s Clegg quits as Liberal Democrat leader

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg resigns after his party’s “crushing” defeat in the UK general election.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (MAY 8, 2015) (UK POOL) – Britain’s deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg resigned on Friday (May 8) as leader of the Liberal Democrats after his party was crushed at the national election.

Clegg, who in 2010 led his party to its first ever spell in government as junior partner to Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives, retained his seat in parliament but saw the vast majority of his colleagues lose theirs.

With nearly all the seats counted, the Liberal Democrats held just eight on Friday morning, down from the 57 they won in 2010.

Clegg described the party’s election defeat as “crushing” as he announced his resignation.

“I always expected this election to be exceptionally difficult for the Liberal Democrats, given the heavy responsibilities we’ve had to bear in government in the most challenging of circumstances, but clearly the results have been immeasurably more crushing and unkind than I could ever have feared. For that, of course, I must take responsibility,” he said at a news conference in London.

He said the party’s time in government went some way to make up for its heavy losses.

“If our losses today are part-payment for every family that is more secure because of a job we helped to create, every person with depression who is treated with the compassion they deserve, every child who does a little better in school, every apprentice with a long and rewarding career to look forward to, every gay couple who know that their love is worth no less than anyone else’s, every pensioner with a little more freedom and dignity in retirement, then I hope at least our losses can be endured with a little selfless dignity too,” Clegg added.

Clegg also said liberalism has suffered a blow in the election.

“Fear and grievance have won, liberalism has lost, but it is more precious than ever and we must keep fighting for it. That is both the great challenge and the great cause that my successor will have to face,” he said.

Clegg’s resignation was accompanied by that of the opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband and the anti-Europe UKIP leader Nigel Farage.