Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Arab MP drops leadership bid for British Liberals

Reports claim Layla Moran was 'shaken' by recent media exposure

Layla Moran was touted as a future leader of the Liberal Democrats.  REX/Shutterstock
Layla Moran was touted as a future leader of the Liberal Democrats.  REX/Shutterstock

Britain's first MP of Palestinian descent withdrew her bid to lead the Liberal Democrats after her two years in Parliament helped create a higher public profile for the party, which traditionally comes behind the Conservatives and Labour.

Layla Moran, a former teacher, stood out among the most recent intake of MPs as one of the more articulate voices on Brexit. Ms Moran sought to capitalise on her profile by launching a bid for the party leadership but decided that the timing was not right.

An MP since 2017, Ms Moran, 36, was once a contender to replace Liberal Democrat stalwart Sir Vince Cable as leader. Her father James Moran was the EU's ambassador to Egypt from 2012-2016.

Her decision left the door open for Jo Swinson to try and become the Liberal Democrats' first female leader.

The party, which is in favour of remaining in the EU, hopes to capitalise on widespread discontent about the government's handling of Brexit in the coming European elections.

An incident from Ms Moran's private life emerged after she announced her interest in the top job. It was reported that she was detained in 2013 for slapping her boyfriend.

Ms Moran insisted the incident had nothing to do with her decision to abandon her bid to become party leader, saying her first priority was her constituents.

A source told the Evening Standard newspaper the MP was “shaken” by recent media exposure and was determined to protect those close to her.

“In 2013, Richard and I had a row at the autumn conference in Glasgow that initially began over a lost computer cable,” Ms Moran said when the paper first reported the arrest.

“The relationship had come under enormous strain in preceding months and regrettably, it escalated and in the heat of the moment I slapped him because I felt threatened.

“We both recognise it wasn’t our finest hour and were, both at the time and continue to be, grateful that the police mediated, and calmed things down.”

Updated: May 14, 2019 05:52 PM