Nick Clegg rejects role in Lib Dem frontbench team

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is no longer part of the Liberal Democrat frontbench, after a reshuffle by new leader Tim Farron.

The former Deputy Prime Minister resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats after a catastrophic election defeat – cutting down the party’s MPs from 57 in 2010 to just 8.

Mr Clegg, who has cited same-sex marriage as one of his proudest achievements in government, was narrowly re-elected as an MP in Sheffield Hallam.

However, as new leader Tim Farron today reshuffled the Lib Dem spokespeople, Mr Clegg turned down a role on the party’s frontbench.

There had been speculation that Mr Clegg could take the Home or Foreign brief, to ease the party’s transition given its limited number of elected politicians.

But today it was confirmed he turned down a key position on the team – meaning he will serve as a backbench MP.

A party spokesperson said: “He decided after some consideration that he wanted to take a quieter role on the back benches.”

It is not entirely without precedent, as former Prime Minister and Labour Leader Gordon Brown served as a backbench MP in his party following his own election misery in 2010.

Former Health Minister Norman Lamb, who was defeated by Mr Farron in the leadership election, will stay in the Health brief.

Significantly, despite the fact that all eight of the party’s MPs are white men, Mr Farron has appointed a number of females to key roles.

Baronesses Susan Kramer and Judith Jolly will take the Economics and Home briefs – meaning the majority of the party’s key spokespeople will serve in the House of Lords, and not the Commons.

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece will serve in the equalities brief.

Former equalities minister Lynne Featherstone, who was responsible for introducing same-sex marriage, has maintained a role despite holding no current political office, after being unseated at the general election.

She will serve as spokesperson on Energy and Climate Change.

The full list is as follows:
Economics: Baroness Susan Kramer
Foreign Affairs/Chief Whip/Leader of the House: Tom Brake MP
Defence: Baroness Judith Jolly
Home Affairs: Alistair Carmichael MP
Health: Norman Lamb MP
Education: John Pugh MP
Work and Pensions: Baroness Zahida Manzoor
Business: Lorely Burt
Energy and Climate Change: Lynne Featherstone
Local Government: Mayor of Watford, Cllr Dorothy Thornhill
Transport: Baroness Jenny Randerson
Environment and Rural Affairs: Baroness Kate Parminter
International Development: Baroness Lindsay Northover
Culture Media and Sport: Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter
Equalities: Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece
Justice/Attorney General: Lord Jonathan Marks
Northern Ireland: Lord John Alderdice
Scotland: Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Wales: Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Campaigns Chair: Greg Mullholland MP
Grassroots Campaigns: Cllr Tim Pickstone, Chair of the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

Mr Clegg became the first main party leader to back same-sex marriage in a PinkNews readers’ Q&A in 2010.

On answering PinkNews readers’ questions, he announced his support for equal marriage, saying: “I support gay marriage”.

He later reiterated his support for marriage equality between gay and straight couples in England and Wales, affirming that it was no longer a question of ‘if’ the move will go ahead.