Clegg urges party to rally around his successor

Nick Clegg after winning his Sheffield Hallam seat
Nick Clegg after winning his Sheffield Hallam seat
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Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has issued an appeal to his party to rally behind whoever is elected as his successor.

In his first public comments since his resignation in the wake of the party’s crushing general election defeat, he said it was “absolutely essential” the party came together once the leadership contest was over.

“My successor deserves our undivided loyalty and support,” he said during an impromptu appearance at a meeting of Lib Dem activists in a Westminster pub recorded by the BBC.

“It is incredibly important once that leadership election is complete we really do come together and, whilst Labour continue to tear themselves apart in the summer that, we can immediately hit the ground running after the summer break as a united party.”

Mr Clegg also made an impassioned defence of his decision to lead the Lib Dems into coalition with the Conservatives after the 2010 general election, despite the heavy price paid by the party at the polls.

“Whatever your views are about the events of the last few years, never, ever, ever let anyone question the motives of the Liberal Democrats,” he said.