Lib Dem Rosette

The Liberal Democrats will hold their leadership contest this summer, while the annual conference will take place online due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The contest to replace Jo Swinson as the new leader will make use of online hustings and voting.

Ms Swinson stepped down as leader after poor results in the 2019 election.

Sir Ed Davey has been standing in as acting leader, and initially the leadership contest had been postponed to May 2021 due to the pandemic.

Candidate nominations will be open from 24 June to 9 July, with the ballot running from 30 July to 26 August, after which the winner will announced.

Party president Mark Pack said the alternative virtual conference was a “first for any major political party”.

Announcing the new leadership election timetable, he said: “The sad state of our government today shows how desperately the country needs a vision of an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates diversity and benefits from high-quality public services.

“With our party membership at record levels, I urge everyone else who shares our values to join us in the coming days and vote in the leadership election.”

The decision to hold a virtual conference comes as Labour announced it had cancelled its own conference – due to be held in Liverpool from 19 to 23 September – saying the “priority is the safety of members, staff and visitors to our events and the need to protect the public’s health”.

Party conferences usually see members and politicians gather to socialise, debate and vote on policy.