‘It’s time to quit, Nick!’ claims MP in Sheffield talk

Lembit Opik speaks to sudents at  Sheffield Hallam University The Hubs on Monday
Lembit Opik speaks to sudents at Sheffield Hallam University The Hubs on Monday

COLOURFUL Liberal Democrat politician Lembit Opik called for Nick Clegg to resign as a party leader during a talk to student activists in Sheffield.

The former MP, who lost his parliamentary seat in Montgomeryshire in 2010, said Mr Clegg had ‘made the wrong calls’ since he went into government with the Conservative Party.

Mr Opik, famous for his ill-fated engagement to Cheeky Girl singer Gabriela Irimia, said Mr Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, had under-performed in government.

He told a meeting of Sheffield Hallam University Liberal Democrats: “The failing wasn’t the decision to go into coalition.

“It has been the performance of the Liberal Democrats in coalition. A number of things have gone wrong because they made the wrong calls.”

Mr Opik, who stood for the party presidency in 2004 and 2008, said if the party lost seats in the local elections on May 3, Mr Clegg should immediately announce a timetable to resign as leader.

“If the results are very bad he should set a very short timescale and let the party replace him by the end of the year.”

Mr Clegg should continue as deputy prime minister, he said, but not lead the party. “I don’t dislike Nick Clegg, but business is business,” he said.

Mr Opik said it had not been easy to deliver his message ‘on Nick’s own turf.’

“I’m here because I’m trying to share this message with anyone who is going to listen. Please Nick, give us a response about what you think of this analysis of your leadership. The Liberal Democrats have stopped sounding like Liberal Democrats to a lot of left-leaning voters.”

He said backing an increase in tuition fees and early decisions in government were stumbling blocks for Mr Clegg.