Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are a political party in the United Kingdom. Party members elect the Leader of the Liberal Democrats. The Leader of the Liberal Democrats is 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.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Official portrait of Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP crop 2.jpgMark Pack (Liberal Democrat) speaking at the launch of PX report 'Northern Lights' (cropped).jpg
Ed Davey & Mark Pack (Acting)

since 1 January 2020
Member of
AppointerLiberal Democrats membership
Inaugural holderDavid Steel and Bob Maclennan
Formation3 March 1988
WebsiteOfficial website

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.

In the event that 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. The next leader will be elected in the 2020 Liberal Democrats leadership election.

Overall LeadersEdit

Portrait Constituency Took office Left office Prime Minister
David Steel[a]
  Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale 3 March 1988 16 July 1988 Thatcher
Bob Maclennan[b]
  Caithness and Sutherland
Paddy Ashdown
  Yeovil 16 July 1988
9 August 1999
Charles Kennedy
  Ross, Skye and Inverness West
Ross, Skye and Lochaber
9 August 1999
7 January 2006
Sir Menzies Campbell[c]
  North East Fife 2 March 2006
15 October 2007
Sir Vince Cable[d]
  Twickenham 15 October 2007 18 December 2007
Sir Nick Clegg[e]
  Sheffield Hallam 18 December 2007
16 July 2015
Tim Farron
  Westmorland and Lonsdale 16 July 2015
20 July 2017
Sir Vince Cable
  Twickenham 20 July 2017
22 July 2019
Jo Swinson
  East Dunbartonshire 22 July 2019
13 December 2019
The Baroness Brinton[f]
  N/A 13 December 2019 31 December 2019
Sir Ed Davey[f]
  Kingston and Surbiton Incumbent
Mark Pack[f]   N/A 1 January 2020

Living former party leadersEdit

There are six living former party leaders. From oldest to youngest:

Leader Term of office Date of birth
David Steel 1988 (1938-03-31) 31 March 1938 (age 82)
Menzies Campbell 2006–2007 (1941-05-22) 22 May 1941 (age 79)
Vince Cable 2007 (1943-05-09) 9 May 1943 (age 77)
Nick Clegg 2007–2015 (1967-01-07) 7 January 1967 (age 53)
Tim Farron 2015–2017 (1970-05-27) 27 May 1970 (age 50)
Jo Swinson 2019 (1980-02-05) 5 February 1980 (age 40)

Leaders in the House of LordsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Joint acting leader, as the last leader of the Liberal Party before the merger.
  2. ^ Joint acting leader, as the last leader of the Social Democratic Party before the merger.
  3. ^ Acting leader between the resignation of Charles Kennedy on 7 January 2006 and his own election as leader on 2 March 2006.
  4. ^ Acting leader between the resignation of Menzies Campbell on 15 October 2007 and the election of a new leader on 18 December 2007.
  5. ^ 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]
  6. ^ a b c Joint acting leader following Jo Swinson's resignation (after her failure to be re-elected to her parliamentary constituency).


  1. ^ "Who will be the next Lib Dem leader after Jo Swinson loses her seat?". ITV News.
  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

External linksEdit