UK & World News

  • 26 May 2014, 13:49

Pressure Grows On Clegg After Polls Disaster

Pressure is growing on Nick Clegg after his party was all but wiped out in the European elections.

The Liberal Democrats were left with just one of its 11 MEPs, two days after damaging local elections which saw them lose 296 councillors.

By lunchtime on Monday, Mr Cleggwas the only leader not to appear after a weekend in which hundreds of party members signed a petition calling for him to go. It prompted widespread use of the Twitter hashtag #wheresclegg.

Senior Liberal Democrats insisted Mr Clegg was going nowhere.

Former leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "There's no doubt in my mind that Nick Clegg is the person with the courage and the resilience to take the party through to and during, and indeed after, the next general election."

David Cameron said Mr Clegg'sleadership was a matter for the Liberal Democrats, but said there was a "strong coalition Government".

A petition calling for Nick Clegg's resignation as the leader of the Liberal Democrats has gathered steam, with hundreds of party members calling for him to step down.

After the disastrous local election results on Friday, the Deputy Prime Minister insisted he would not quit.

On Monday former Lib DemMP Lembit Opik said: "Nick took quite a simplistic view on the European Union. He told the country that Europe was good for us. It just didn't really work - 7% is a terrible result.

"Is it a risk? It's a bigger risk to continue with a leader who called two debates with Nigel Farage and lost both of them and I imagine that Nigel Farage is going to be in the televised debates next year, well is Nick going to lose again and what will that do to our parliamentary base?"

On Sunday Lib Dem Party President Tim Farrontold Sky's Dermot Murnaghan: "Nick Clegg should undoubtedly stay and the Liberal Democrats should stay the course in government.

"It's important we stand together as a party, behind Nick Clegg's leadership, and go forward for 2015."

The former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown also spoke out in support of Mr Clegg, labelling calls for him to step down "silly".

MP John Pugh, whodescribed thelocal election defeats as "abysmal", said the party's "high command" was in danger of seeming like "Generals at the Somme".

Jackie Porter, who is set to fight the Tory-held target seat of Winchester in next May's general election, said the party was "not going forward with a clearstrategy".

More than 200grassroots members have signed up to the online LibDems4Change campaign which has published an open letter to Mr Clegg.

Under existing rules, if Mr Clegg refuses to quit, a leadership contest would be triggered if 75 local party associations formally demand one or a majority ofthe parliamentary party approves a no confidence motion.

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