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Alistair Carmichael rules out leadership bid

Former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael
Former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has ruled out a future bid to become leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The Orkney and Shetland MP said the commitment required for the top job was “enormous” and his family already “miss out on a lot”.

Mr Carmichael had been considered by many to be a front-runner to succeed Nick Clegg whenever the current leader steps down.

The northern isles is viewed as the safest Lib Dem seat in Scotland, arguably in the UK, but many other senior Lib Dems face a fight for their political survival at May’s election, including Mr Clegg and Danny Alexander in Inverness.

But when asked by the Press and Journal if he would like to be party leader, Mr Carmichael said: “No. There’s no vacancy and I have the constituency that is furthest  away from London.

“I have got a family that still  includes school age children. And the commitment that it takes to be party leader in modern politics is enormous.

“My family already miss out on a lot just by virtue of the fact that I’m an MP and I’m a minister and I’m away from home every week.

“At least I feel that they miss out on a lot, they might feel differently.”

Mr Carmichael’s decision cuts the list of potential Lib Dem leaders.

Mr Alexander, if he can defy the opinion polls and defeat the SNP in May, is thought to have ambitions for the post.

Other potential candidates would be Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Business Secretary Vince Cable, former party president Tim Farron, and Health Minister Norman Lamb.

Mr Carmichael, who was Lib Dem chief whip before entering the Scotland Office in 2013, confirmed he would like to remain in the Cabinet, however.

Asked if he enjoyed his “last Scottish questions” this week, he said: “I hope it won’t be.

“There will be Scottish questions after the next election, I would hope to be part of them. I have been part of Scottish Questions for the last 14 years.”

He said “of course” he would still  like to be at the Dispatch Box after May, and added:  “Who has a job anywhere is job for the PM and DPM, that’s well above my pay grade.

“I have loved every second of being a minister but I’ve loved every second of being an MP.”

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