Charles Kennedy quits as Liberal Democrat leader
Bowing to pressure from his own MPs, Charles Kennedy has quit as Liberal Democrat leader, 48 hours after owning up to a secret battle against alcoholism.world Updated: Jan 08, 2006 08:49 IST
Bowing to pressure from his own MPs, Charles Kennedy has quit as Liberal Democrat leader, 48 hours after owning up to a secret battle against alcoholism.
Kennedy's deputy, the well-respected Sir Menzies Campbell, will take over as acting leader pending a leadership contest that he will enter as favourite, although he may be seen as too old to be more than a caretaker leader.
Sir Menzies paid a warm tribute to Kennedyon Saturday night from his home in Edinburgh and confirmed that he would be a leadership contender.
Strong challenges can also be expected from Simon Hughes, the party president, and its home affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, who were both at the party headquarter to hear Kennedy's statement.
Kennedy had tried to live out the crisis, vowing to remain as leader pending a full leadership contest in which he would stand as a candidate for his own job.
But after 25 Liberal Democrat MPs gave him an ultimatum to quit on Friday, Kennedy was forced to bow to the inevitable and announced his immediate resignation last evening from the post that he has held since 1999.
In a statement at Lib Dem headquarters where he made his dramatic statement about his drinking problem on Thursday afternoon, Kennedy said that although he enjoyed wide backing among party members, he clearly had insufficient support among the parliamentary party.