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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Vince Cable, 74, becomes leader of pro-EU British political party

The veteran politician who predicted 2008 financial crash has become leader of Britain's third party

Vince Cable speaks after being named as the new leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat Party in London
Vince Cable speaks after being named as the new leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat Party in London

Sir Vince Cable has become the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Britain's third largest political party.

Mr Cable, who was re-elected as MP for Twickenham in last month's UK General Election, faced no opposition in his leadership bid, automatically winning the contest.

He replaced Tim Farron, who announced he was standing down as leader after a disappointing election result, which saw the Lib Dems fail to increase their vote share. Despite the party increasing their seats from eight to 12, their vote share fell by 0.5%.

The 74-year-old served as Business Secretary in the Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition from 2010 before losing his constituency seat in the 2015 general election, which he had held for 18 years.

Mr Cable, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum, has stated that he believes that Brexit might never happen.

Speaking to the BBC before his election as leader, he said: “I’m beginning to think that Brexit may never happen.

“The problems are so enormous, the divisions within the two main parties are so enormous I can see a scenario in which this doesn’t happen.”

He has also accused Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of working towards a "hard Brexit" and welcomed "refugees" from Labour to work with him to thwart this outcome.

“[Corbyn] is very pro-Brexit, and a hard Brexit, and when that becomes apparent the divisions in the Labour party will become more real and the opportunity for us to move into that space will be substantial,” he said.

Mr Cable has also spoken about the need to fill a political centre ground in Britain.

“There’s a gaping hole in British politics," he said.

“We’ve got hard right on Brexit we’ve got the hard left in charge of the Labour party. Millions of people who want moderate, common sense politics are unrepresented and I want the Lib Dems to fill that space.”

Before becoming an MP, Mr Cable was worked as a Chief Economist for Shell and lectured in economics at the University of Glasgow.

Lauded as an economics guru, he famously predicted the 2008 financial crash as early as 2003.

Mr Cable, who was elected to Parliament in 1997, is 27 years older than his predecessor Farron and is the oldest ever leader of the Liberal Democrats. He joins the ranks of other older political leaders including Donald Trump, 71, Theresa May, 60 and Jeremy Corbyn, 68.

However, in an interview with the Sunday Times earlier this month, the veteran politician said the current "mood of the age" valued experience over youth.

“I think there was an irrational cult of youth at one point in our political cycle,” he told the publication. “There are occasions when you get some young and exciting politician that is exactly right. Obama was exactly right and you could argue the same of Tony Blair and there are periods of history where that’s the public mood.

“There is now a more sober mood and one that values experience, and there is nothing to stop older people being radical in their views. It’s the mood of the age, where the age you have is much less important than what you feel and what you can do with it.”

Outside of politics, Mr Cable is a keen ballroom dancer and participated in the 2010 Christmas edition of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.