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

since 22 July 2019
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 his or her seat in Parliament, the deputy leader (if there is one) serves as interim leader until a leadership election takes place. This has occurred twice, 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. The current leader is Jo Swinson, who succeeded Vince Cable on 22 July 2019.[1]

Leaders in the House of CommonsEdit

Portrait Country of birth Constituency Took office Left office Prime Minister
David Steel[a]
    Scotland Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale 3 March 1988 16 July 1988 Thatcher
Bob Maclennan[b]
    Scotland Caithness and Sutherland
Paddy Ashdown
    British Raj Yeovil 16 July 1988
9 August 1999
Charles Kennedy
    Scotland Ross, Skye and Inverness West
Ross, Skye and Lochaber
9 August 1999
7 January 2006
Menzies Campbell[c]
    Scotland North East Fife 2 March 2006
15 October 2007
Vince Cable[d]
    England Twickenham 15 October 2007 18 December 2007
Nick Clegg[e]
    England Sheffield Hallam 18 December 2007
16 July 2015
Tim Farron
    England Westmorland and Lonsdale 16 July 2015
20 July 2017
Vince Cable
    England Twickenham 20 July 2017
22 July 2019
Jo Swinson
    Scotland East Dunbartonshire 22 July 2019

Living former party leadersEdit

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

Leader Term of office Date of birth
Bob Maclennan 1988 (1936-06-26) 26 June 1936 (age 83)
David Steel (1938-03-31) 31 March 1938 (age 81)
Menzies Campbell 2006–2007 (1941-05-22) 22 May 1941 (age 78)
Vince Cable 2007 (1943-05-09) 9 May 1943 (age 76)
Nick Clegg 2007–2015 (1967-01-07) 7 January 1967 (age 52)
Tim Farron 2015–2017 (1970-05-27) 27 May 1970 (age 49)

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]


  1. ^ "Lib Dems: Jo Swinson elected new leader". BBC News. 22 July 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

External linksEdit