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Timothy James "Tim" Farron (born 27 May 1970) is a British politician who was the Leader of the Liberal Democrats between July 2015 and July 2017. He announced his resignation on 14 June 2017 following the 2017 UK general election, remaining in his position until Sir Vince Cable was elected on 20 July 2017.[1][2]

Tim Farron

Tim Farron 2016 (cropped).jpg
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Assumed office
12 October 2017
LeaderSir Vince Cable
Preceded byThe Baroness Parminter
In office
7 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded bySteve Webb
Succeeded byDan Rogerson
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
In office
16 July 2015 – 20 July 2017
DeputyJo Swinson (2017)
PresidentThe Baroness Brinton
Preceded byNick Clegg
Succeeded bySir Vince Cable
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
7 January 2015 – 16 July 2015
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byEd Davey (2010)
Succeeded byTom Brake
President of the Liberal Democrats
In office
1 January 2011 – 1 January 2015
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byBaroness Scott of Needham Market
Succeeded byThe Baroness Brinton
Member of Parliament
for Westmorland and Lonsdale
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byTim Collins
Majority777 (1.5%)
Personal details
Timothy James Farron

(1970-05-27) 27 May 1970 (age 48)
Preston, Lancashire, England
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Other political
Liberal (1986–1988)
Spouse(s)Rosemary Cantley (m. 2000)
Children1 daughter
2 sons
1 stepdaughter
Alma materNewcastle University

He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmorland and Lonsdale, having first been elected in 2005 and re-elected at the 2010, 2015 and 2017 general elections, and was the President of the Liberal Democrats from 2011-14.[3][4][5]


Early life and educationEdit

Farron was born in Preston, Lancashire, and educated at Lostock Hall High School and Runshaw College, Leyland,[6] before going on to Newcastle University, where he gained a BA in Politics in 1992.[7] Farron has described how, in his youth, his bedroom bore pictures of "strange sort of left-wing politicians", including John F. Kennedy and former Liberal Party leader Jo Grimond, as well as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[8] In 1990, he was elected to the National Union of Students' National Executive.[7] The following year, he was elected president of Newcastle University Union Society, the first Liberal Democrat to hold the position,[7] having joined the Liberal Party at the age of 16.[6]

Before his election to Parliament, Farron worked in higher education at Lancaster University from 1992 to 2002[7] and St. Martin's College, Ambleside from 2002 to 2005.[9]

Political careerEdit

Positions beginning prior to 2005Edit

Farron contested North West Durham at the 1992 general election, where he finished in third place, behind the sitting Labour Party MP Hilary Armstrong and Conservative Party candidate (and future Prime Minister) Theresa May. He then served on Lancashire County Council from 1993 to 2000 and was also a councillor for Leyland Central ward on South Ribble Borough Council from 1995 to 1999.[10]

Farron was selected to contest the Labour/Conservative marginal constituency of South Ribble at the 1997 general election, and again finished in third place.[11] Thereafter, he was a Liberal Democrat candidate for the North West region in the 1999 European Parliament elections.[12]

At the 2001 general election, Farron contested the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat and finished second, reducing the majority of the sitting Conservative MP Tim Collins to 3,167.[13] He then served as a councillor for the Milnthorpe ward on the South Lakeland District Council from 2004 to 2008.[14]

Westmorland and Lonsdale from 2005 win to 2009Edit

Farron in 2008

At the 2005 general election, Farron again fought Collins in Westmorland and Lonsdale, and this time won this election by a narrow margin of just 267 votes.[9] He made his maiden speech in Parliament on 25 May 2005.[15] As a new MP, he became a member of the Education and Skills Select Committee and was appointed as Youth Affairs Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats.[6] In 2005 he founded the all-party parliamentary group on hill farming, of which he was still chair as of March 2015.[16][17]

During Menzies Campbell's period as the Liberal Democrat leader, Farron was Campbell's Parliamentary Private Secretary.[6] In 2007 he was made Liberal Democrat spokesman for Home Affairs.[18]

Farron resigned from the front bench of the Liberal Democrats on 5 March 2008 in protest at the party's abstention from a parliamentary vote on a proposed Conservative referendum on Britain's accession to the Lisbon Treaty. However he later returned to the party's front bench as spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[19] He is a member of the Beveridge Group within the Liberal Democrats.[20][21]


In the 2010 general election, Farron achieved an 11.1% swing from the Conservatives, winning by a majority of 12,264 in his historically Conservative seat. This result was against the run of the rest of the party, making Westmorland and Lonsdale one of the few Liberal Democrat strongholds.[22]

On 27 May 2010, Farron announced he would be standing for the position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, made vacant by the resignation of Vince Cable. On 9 June, Farron lost the competition to the former party President, Simon Hughes. Hughes won by 20 votes; having had 38 nominations from the parliamentary party, compared to Farron's 18.

Farron in March 2014
Farron the day before the 2017 General Election

On 16 September 2010, Farron announced he would be standing for the position of President of the Liberal Democrats following Baroness Scott's decision not to seek re-election. He won the election with 53% of the vote, beating fellow candidate Susan Kramer on 47%.[23]

In March 2012, Farron was one of three MPs who signed a letter sent to the Advertising Standards Authority, criticising their recent decision to stop the Christian group "Healing on the Streets of Bath" from making explicit claims that prayer can heal. The letter called for the ASA to provide indisputable scientific evidence that faith healing did not work; Farron subsequently admitted that the letter was not "well-worded" and that he should not have signed it "as it was written".[24]

Farron was one of only eight Liberal Democrats elected nationwide at the 2015 general election. He was considered a favourite to succeed Nick Clegg as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.[25]

Leadership of the Liberal DemocratsEdit

In May 2015, Farron confirmed his bid for the Liberal Democrat leadership on BBC Radio 4.[26] On 16 July he won the leadership election with 56.5% of the vote, ahead of Norman Lamb who achieved 43.5%.[1] Farron's first speech at the Liberal Democrat September 2015 Conference in Bournemouth was praised in the press.[27]

At the 2017 General Election, Farron narrowly retained his seat with an 8.4% swing to the Conservatives and a majority reduced to 1.5%, while the Liberal Democrats as a whole increased their seats from nine to twelve, although with a reduced overall share of the vote. Farron announced he would step down as party leader following the election, stating that he had become "torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader". He remained as leader until the summer recess in July 2017 and the result of the leadership election, which was won by Vince Cable, who ran unopposed.[28][29]

Political positionsEdit

Among political observers, Farron is widely seen as being of left-leaning political position.[30][31][32][33] In a September 2016 interview, he identified the Liberal Democrats under his leadership as being centre-left.[34]

Policy as Liberal Democrat leaderEdit

In August 2015, Farron identified seven campaigning priorities for the Liberal Democrats. These were rural affairs, the EU referendum, mental health, immigration, civil liberties, the green economy, and housing.[35]


Farron was one of only two Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the under-occupancy penalty (also known as the bedroom tax) in 2012.[9]


In December 2010, he voted against increasing the cap on undergraduate university tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000.[36] Referring to Nick Clegg's earlier pledge not to raise fees—and the previous long-standing Liberal Democrat policy of abolishing them—he said: "Integrity is important. You must not only keep your word but be seen to keep your word. You can say no."[37]


He was the first senior British politician to back the EU proposal for a quota to take in refugees during the Mediterranean crisis. He called for the UK to accept up to 60,000 non-EU refugees to help with the influx. He attended the Refugee solidarity march in London in September 2015 and gave the opening speech.[9] In the 2016 Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, Farron accused the government of cowardice and heartlessness over their current refugee policy.[38]

Representation of women and minoritiesEdit

Farron has said that 50% of target seats will be represented by women and 10 per cent of target seats will be represented by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates.

Farron's appointment of party spokespeople was applauded for its diversity with 12 women and 10 men given positions. Women also took high ranking roles such as defence and economics spokesperson.[9][39]

LGBT rightsEdit

In 2007 he voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which for the first time imposed a general restriction on businesses discriminating against people on the grounds of sexual orientation.[40] In May 2015, regarding a court ruling which found that a Belfast bakery had acted unlawfully in refusing to carry out an order for a cake in support of gay marriage, Farron said that "it's a shame it ended up in court" and "it's important that you stand up for people's rights to have their conscience," but "if you’re providing a service, that’s the key thing – you need to do so without prejudice, without discrimination against those who come through your door."[41]

He voted in favour of allowing marriage between two people of same sex at the second reading of the 2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, but he voted not to timetable the debate on the Bill, which would have made it much more difficult to pass had the House of Commons agreed with his position,[42] over concerns of the impact the "spousal veto" could have on trans people.[43] He was absent for the vote for gay marriage on the third reading of the Bill.[44]

In 2014 he voted in favour of extending the right to same sex marriage to Armed Forces personnel outside the United Kingdom.[45] He currently holds a 90.4% rating on the issue of same sex marriage according to the website Public Whip.[45]

During an interview in 2015 with Cathy Newman for Channel 4 News, following his election as leader, Farron avoided a question from Newman on his personal beliefs regarding gay sex, saying that his "views on personal morality [didn't] matter", adding that to "understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners".[46] In the build-up to the 2017 General Election he repeated similar lines in another Channel 4 News television interview, before Nigel Evans asked him in Parliament whether he thought being gay was a sin, to which he replied, "I do not" and said that he was "very proud" to have supported his party's efforts to introduce gay marriage.[47] Later, in a BBC interview, he further stated that he didn't believe "gay sex" was a sin.[48] Despite this, in June 2017 Lord Brian Paddick resigned from his post as Shadow Home Secretary "over concerns about the leader's views on various issues".[49] In 2018, he expressed regret over his previous assertions that he didn't consider homosexual sex to be sinful, saying he felt under pressure from his party which led him to "foolishly and wrongly" make a statement "that was not right".[50]

Farron's handling of questions regarding LGBT rights and ths sinfulness of homosexuality have been heavily criticised by LGBT+ Liberal Democrats,[51][52] as has his continued association with evangelical anti-'gay lobby' groups, which has been seen as a "lack of care" to the LGBT community.[53] Former head of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, Chris Cooke, made unsubstantiated complaints to the party about Farron's personal conduct when "drunk", and admitted that he "made up a story to cause trouble" following his suspension over Twitter comments directed at Conservative MP Anna Soubry.[54]

Defence policyEdit

He voted against replacing Trident with a like-for-like submarine-based nuclear weapons system.[55]

European UnionEdit

Despite describing himself as "a bit of a Eurosceptic",[56] Farron strongly supported Britain's membership of the European Union,[57] but criticised David Cameron's renegotiation as "about appealing to careerist Tory MPs, who were selected by Europhobic party members, to persuade them to vote to remain".[58]

In June 2016 following the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, in which 51.89% of the voters voted to leave the EU, Farron stated that if the Liberal Democrats were elected in the next parliamentary election, they would not follow through with triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union and leaving the EU but would instead keep the UK in the European Union.[59]

Farron is against the government's proposed plan to return to the traditional blue British passport. He has criticised the move publicly as part of "ever increasing list of the cost of Brexit" and holds the position that the plan is "a completely superficial expenditure which could have been spent on our hospitals and our schools."[60]

Saudi ArabiaEdit

Farron has criticised Britain's close ties with Saudi Arabia. He said: "It is time to shine a light onto the shady corners of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is time we stood up for civil liberties, human rights and not turn a blind eye because the House of Saud are our 'allies'."[61]

Cannabis regulationEdit

He supports the complete legalisation of marijuana for both medical and recreational purpose, saying that "I personally believe the war on drugs is over. We must move from making this a legal issue to one of health."[62]

Personal lifeEdit

Farron married Rosemary Cantley in July 2000 in Lancaster. The couple live in Milnthorpe, within the constituency Farron represents, with their twin daughters (Isabella and Gracie, born in September 2001) and two sons (Jude and Laurie, born January 2004 and January 2006).

Farron is a lifelong non-conformist Protestant[citation needed] and is a committed evangelical Christian and says that "becoming a Christian at the age of eighteen [was] the most massive choice I have made."[63] He is a vegetarian,[64][65] and a lifelong fan of the East Lancashire football club Blackburn Rovers.[66] In January 2018, he won a round of Celebrity Mastermind, with Blackburn Rovers F.C as his specialist subject.


  1. ^ a b Mayhew, Bess (16 July 2015). "Tim Farron elected as Leader of the Liberal Democrats". Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Tim Farron quits as Lib Dem leader". BBC News. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  3. ^ Duffett, Helen (13 November 2010). "Lib Dem Presidential Contest: Result". Lib Dem Voice.
  4. ^ "Cambridgeshire campaigner becomes new President of the Liberal Democrats". 29 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Sal Brinton elected as new Liberal Democrat Party President". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Prince, Rosa (16 July 2015). "Tim Farron: the Christian Lefty on course to be elected Liberal Democrat leader". The Daily Telegraph.
  7. ^ a b c d Perraudin, Frances (16 July 2015). "Tim Farron profile: who is the new Liberal Democrat leader?". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Horton, Helena (8 May 2017). "Tim Farron admits he had a poster of Margaret Thatcher on his wall as a teenager". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 May 2017. I had pictures of strange sort of leftwing politicians.
  9. ^ a b c d e Leet, Dillon (16 July 2015). "24 things you didn't know about Tim Farron". The Daily Telegraph.
  10. ^ "South Ribble Borough Council Election Results 1973–2011" (PDF). The Elections Centre. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Ribble South". Political Science Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  12. ^ "1999 Election Candidates". UK Office of the European Parliament. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Westmorland and Lonsdale". Vote 2001. BBC News. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  14. ^ "South Lakeland District Council Elections – 10 June 2004: Election Results". South Lakeland District Council. Archived from the original on 2004-09-21. Retrieved 11 February 2017. Follow link "Table of Election Results in South Lakeland" for results.
  15. ^ Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale (25 May 2005). "The Economy and Welfare Reform". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 752–755.
  16. ^ Davies, Isabel (26 July 2005). "MPs establish new Parliamentary group on hill farming". Farmers Weekly. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Hill Farming". Register Of All-Party Groups [as at 30 March 2015]. House of Commons. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  18. ^ "FARRON, Tim". The House of Commons. Parliamentary Yearbook. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
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  20. ^ "About us". The Beveridge Group. 28 October 2007. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008.
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  23. ^ "Tim Farron elected as Lib Dem president". BBC News. 13 November 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  24. ^ "Tim Farron: 'Prayer Can Heal' Letter Was A Mistake". Huffington Post UK. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
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  32. ^ Chorley, Matt (25 January 2015). "Leftwinger Tim Farron is now 'unstoppable' in battle to replace Nick Clegg as leader after a Lib Dem election wipeout". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
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  41. ^ "BBC Question Time panel criticises 'gay cake' row bakery". PinkNews. 22 May 2015.
  42. ^ "Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 5 February 2013. col. 231.
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  50. ^ Mason, Rowena (10 January 2018). "Tim Farron says he regrets saying gay sex is not a sin". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  51. ^ Mason, Chris (18 July 2015). "Tim Farron's religious convictions leave some Lib Dems fretting". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  52. ^ Braidwood, Ella (18 September 2018). "Lib Dems mock Tim Farron's views on gay sex in singalong". PinkNews. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  53. ^ Duffy, Nick (10 May 2018). "Tim Farron faces Lib Dem anger over event criticising 'gay lobby'". PinkNews. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  54. ^ Mortimer, Caroline (18 June 2017). "Tim Farron subject of false allegations by former Lib Dem LGBT activist". The Independent. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
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  56. ^ "Farron says he is 'bit of a Eurosceptic'". 30 April 2017 – via
  57. ^ May, Josh (13 October 2015). "Tim Farron challenges 'pathetic' Corbyn and Cameron on EU stance". Politics Home.
  58. ^ Snowdon, Kathryn (27 February 2016). "Tim Farron Really Thinks The UK Should Stay In The EU". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  59. ^ Stone, Jon (25 June 2016). "Liberal Democrats pledge to ignore referendum result and keep Britain in the EU". The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  60. ^ "UK passports could resort to traditional blue colour post Brexit as redesign due in 2019". Sunday Herald. 2 April 2017.
  61. ^ Wright, Oliver (22 December 2015). "UK Government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public". The Independent.
  62. ^ Watt, Nicholas (11 February 2016). "Tim Farron calls for legalisation of cannabis for recreational use". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  63. ^ Monro, Johnny (15 May 2015). "Could Tim Farron finally quash the myth that Christianity and Liberalism don't mix?". Christian Today. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  64. ^ "Tim Farron on Twitter".
  65. ^ "24 things you didn't know about Tim Farron".
  66. ^ Barclay, Tom (21 September 2015). "Farron fury at Rovers owners Venkys". The Sun. Retrieved 15 January 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tim Collins
Member of Parliament
for Westmorland and Lonsdale

Party political offices
Preceded by
The Baroness Scott of Needham Market
President of the Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
The Baroness Brinton
Preceded by
Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
Vince Cable