Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson has been given a clear path to the leadership of her party after one of the leading challengers said she would not be standing for the role.
Layla Moran was seen as the most likely figure to contest the race to succeed Sir Vince Cable against Ms Swinson, who is considered the favourite even though she has not confirmed she will seek the job.
But in a statement, Ms Moran said she would focus on representing her constituents in Oxford West and Abingdon, where she was elected in 2017.
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“I am very grateful to the large number of constituents, supporters, party members and elected representatives who have encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring in the forthcoming Liberal Democrat leadership contest,” she said.
“As a relatively new MP, however, my first priority has to be to serve my constituents to the best of my ability.
“I hope they consider that I am doing a good job so far, but I do not believe that I would be able to continue to do so to the standard they have the right to expect if I took on the busy role of party leader as well.
“For this reason, I wrote to local party members earlier this week to let them know that I would not be standing for the leadership at this time.”
Scottish Lib Dem sources who back Ms Swinson for the top job told the Scotsman earlier this year that Ms Moran had begun canvassing for support for a possible leadership race within months of being elected.
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Several sources said her “naked ambition” had failed to impress local activists.
Lib Dem members are believed to want a contested leadership race after Mr Cable faced no opposition for the job in 2017. Other possible candidates include the party’s Brexit spokesman Tom Brake, and former Energy Minister Ed Davey.