Lib Dem MP announces he will step down and says he’s frustrated opposition parties won’t work together

The Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb. Picture: Jamie Honeywood/Eastern Daily Press.

The Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb. Picture: Jamie Honeywood/Eastern Daily Press. - Credit: Archant

A Liberal Democrat MP, who has announced he is not seeking re-election at the next general election, has expressed frustration that opposition parties are failing to work together to form a government of national unity.

Sir Norman Lamb, who was elected under the Liberal Democrats for north Norfolk 18 and a half years ago, said Brexit has stalled so much of parliament's business he no longer felt other issues got the time they deserved. He now believes his efforts would be better spent campaigning outside Westminster.

Revealing his decision not to stand in his local newspaper, the Eastern Daily Press, the MP cited Brexit as a key issue for not standing again.

He said: "I think we are in a very sad and disturbing place in our politics. It feels like there are two camps. But I think the public expects politicians to rise above the fray and be willing to bring the country together again."

Lamb supported the idea of a government of national unity to avoid a no-deal Brexit, and appeared frustrated by political leaders failing to reach an agreement on the matter.

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"If I was wanting to offer advice or a view about how politicians in the future need to act to get us out of this mess, I would like to see more people focusing on national unity, on reconciliation," he told his local newspaper.

"I think we've become a horribly divided country and we've got to persuade people from across the political spectrum that national unity is worth giving up their hard positions for."

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Asked whether this extended to his own party leader Jo Swinson, who came under criticism for snubbing Jeremy Corbyn's plan to avoid a no-deal Brexit, he said: "I think it extends across the political spectrum and I don't exclude my own party from this.

"We've got so much in common and this country has so much it can achieve. We all feel very proud of our country, but we are in danger of damaging it."

Norman Lamb's seat is a target for the Conservatives, and the party will be looking to make gains in Leave-voting constituencies like North Norfolk to deliver Brexit.

His majority was reduced following the coalition in 2015 and fell further to just 3,512 votes in 2017 after the constituency voted for Brexit by 58.9%.

He said: "I care humongously about wanting to ensure there is a Lib Dem successor. There are others in the local party who have the ability to step up.

"I'm conscious that if the whole county is blue there's a real danger of a culture that sets in that people get taken for granted and I hope people feel in North Norfolk they've been well represented."

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