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UK Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron resigns over Christian faith

(Reuters/Darren Staples/File Photo)Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron speaks during their General Election campaign launch in Manchester, Britain April 21, 2017.

Tim Farron has stepped down from his position as the party leader of UK's Liberal Democrats on Wednesday, saying he felt it "impossible" to lead the party as a committed Christian.

"The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader," Farron stated in a speech to staff at the party's London headquarters, as reported by Sky News.

"A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment," he continued.

"To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me," Farron went on to say.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lord Paddick, who was formerly the most senior openly gay police officer, resigned from his post as the party's home affair's spokesman, citing Farron's views on gay marriage. He stated that he felt unable to continue in his role because of Farron's stance on "various issues."

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP has faced repeated questions over his attitude to gay sex during the election campaign.

Farron, an evangelical Christian who has served as the head of the Liberal Democrats since 2015, had previously clarified that he supported gay marriage and LGBT rights, but he declined to say whether or not he believed it was a sin. Following a wave of criticism, he explained that he did not believe that homosexuality is a sin.

The Telegraph reported that some sources within the party saw Paddick's resignation as a beginning of a coup against Farron, who has been seen as ineffective during the campaign despite increasing the number of his MPs.

A spokesman for Farron denied earlier that there is a coup against the party leader and claimed that he would stay in his role "for as long as he wants to do so." Farron said he would continue to play the role only until the summer recess when a party leadership election will be held.

Jo Swinson, who regained her East Dunbartonshire seat in last week's General Election, has been tipped to become a possible replacement for Farron. She was seen as a possible deputy leader of the party after Farron launched a search for the role on Tuesday.

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