Vince Cable sets out stall to be Lib Dem leader in period of 'chronic uncertainty'
It could be bad news for Zac Goldsmith and Amber Rudd.
Vince Cable has announced that he is running for leader of the Liberal Democrats in a move that may yet pave the way for a progressive alliance in the next general election.
Writing on the Lib Dem voice website, the 74-year-old former business secretary insisted that the Lib Dems would benefit from his experience.
"With 20 years on the national political stage I am passionate as ever about our liberal values. I am ready to commit my energy, enthusiasm and experience to the task of leading the Liberal Democrats through what will be a period of chronic uncertainty," he stated.
"With the prospect of another election looming large, we must be ready for the fight."
Cable also indicated that he would be keen to work with politicians from other parties to stop a hard Brexit.
"Brexit negotiations have begun. The government is split and weakened; Labour is equivocal about Europe. The Liberal Democrats alone have a consistent and principled, outward looking, and approach to the issue.
"We must fight for the British public to have a final say on the government’s deal with a chance to stay in the EU if the deal is not good enough. To achieve this, we will need to work with like-minded people in other parties."
Cable did not say whether he would push for a progressive alliance at the next general election, but as a former Labour councillor many expect he would be keen on the idea of tactical voting to help Lib Dem, Labour and Green candidates to oust Tory MPs.
Cable joined the Social Democratic Party in 1982 having previously been a Labour councillor in Glasgow. He was first elected as Lib Dem MP for Twickenham in 1997.
In the 2017 general election campaign, he was secretly recorded suggesting that Lib Dem voters should consider backing Labour's Rupa Huq in her then marginal seat of Ealing Central and Acton.
Cable is the first Lib Dem out of the traps for the party's leadership. His application to replace Tim Farron comes as pressure mounts from left-leaning voters for Labour and the Lib Dems to strike a deal to oust Tory MPs in certain seats in the next general election.
Those seats would include Hastings and Rye, where home secretary Amber Rudd could have been defeated if 347 Lib Dem voters had backed second-place Labour.
And Richmond Park, where Zac Goldsmith would have been ejected if just 47 Labour voters had switched to the second-place Lib Dems.