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Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Sir Ed Davey
since 27 August 2020
Member of
AppointerLiberal Democrats membership
Inaugural holderDavid Steel and Bob Maclennan
Formation3 March 1988
WebsiteOfficial website

The Liberal Democrats are a political party in the United Kingdom. Party members elect the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the head and highest-ranking member of the party. Liberal Democrat members of Parliament also elect a deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons, often colloquially referred to as the deputy leader. Under the federal constitution of the Liberal Democrats the leader is required to be a member of the House of Commons.

Before the election of the first federal leader of the party (the Liberal Democrats having a federal structure in their internal party organisation), the leaders of the two parties which merged to form the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), served as joint interim leaders: David Steel and Bob Maclennan respectively.

If the leader dies, resigns or loses their seat in Parliament, the deputy leader (if there is one) serves as interim leader until a leadership election takes place. This has occurred three times, with Menzies Campbell serving as interim leader following the resignation of Charles Kennedy (Campbell was elected leader in the ensuing election) and Vince Cable serving as interim leader following Campbell's resignation. Jo Swinson lost her seat in the general election held on 12 December 2019, thus ceasing to be leader; Deputy Leader Ed Davey and Party President Sal Brinton became acting co-leaders.[1] Brinton was replaced by Mark Pack following his assuming the office of party president on 1 January 2020. Davey won the Leadership election and became Leader on 27 August 2020 at the 2020 Liberal Democrats leadership election.


Portrait Constituency Took office Left office Prime Minister
David Steel and Robert Maclennan were jointly Acting Leader during this interim from the formation of the party on 3 March 1988. Thatcher
1 Paddy Ashdown
Yeovil 16 July 1988
9 August 1999
2 Charles Kennedy
Ross, Skye and Inverness West
Ross, Skye and Lochaber
9 August 1999
7 January 2006
Sir Menzies Campbell was Acting Leader during this interim.
3 Sir Menzies Campbell
North East Fife 2 March 2006
15 October 2007
Vince Cable was Acting Leader during this interim.
4 Nick Clegg[a]
Sheffield Hallam 18 December 2007
16 July 2015
5 Tim Farron
Westmorland and Lonsdale 16 July 2015
20 July 2017
6 Sir Vince Cable
Twickenham 20 July 2017
22 July 2019
7 Jo Swinson
East Dunbartonshire 22 July 2019
13 December 2019
Sir Ed Davey and The Baroness Brinton were jointly Acting Leader during this interim prior to 31 December 2019.
Sir Ed Davey and Mark Pack were jointly Acting Leader during this interim from 1 January 2020.
8 Sir Ed Davey
Kingston and Surbiton 27 August 2020


Mark PackSal BrintonEd DaveyJo SwinsonVince CableTim FarronNick CleggMenzies CampbellCharles KennedyPaddy AshdownBob MaclennanDavid Steel

Leaders in the House of Lords


See also



  1. ^ Deputy Prime Minister as part of the Coalition with the Conservative Party; resigned on 8 May 2015 following the 2015 general election, but formally retained leadership until a successor was chosen.[2][3]


  1. ^ "Who will be the next Lib Dem leader after Jo Swinson loses her seat?". ITV News. 13 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Nick Clegg resigns as Lib Dem leader". The Guardian. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Every major British political party – except the Conservatives – currently led by a woman". The Independent. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.


  • Federal Constitution of the Liberal Democrats