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Layla Moran has entered the Liberal Democrats leadership race: here’s why that’s important

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Lauren Geall
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Layla Moran

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran announced her decision to stand for Liberal Democrat leader during her appearance on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

Three months after Jo Swinson resigned as the Liberal Democrats leader after losing her seat at the general election, the party’s leadership contest is finally getting underway.

In a new interview on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Layla Moran has announced her intention to stand for Liberal Democrats leader, saying she wants to put forward a “positive vision” for the party’s future.

“The message I’m hearing on the doorsteps is that the Liberal Democrats need to move on from the last decade,” she said. “This is what I intend to do as the leader of the party, and I’ll continue to listen to the ideas and opinions of both members and voters over the coming months.

“I want to lead and empower the Liberal Democrats to fight for this future and to grow our support, so that we can make people’s lives better. I want the party to be in a position to win power within a generation, so that we can bring about the change our country so desperately needs.”

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Moran also set out a number of her key ambitions, including her wish to avoid a no-deal Brexit and ensure that issues such as opportunity, education and climate change were prioritised. She also said she wanted to promote “kinder gentler politics”.

Moran’s ambition for the party sounds impressive – but that’s not the only thing that makes her decision to run so important. At the beginning of the year, the Oxford West and Abingdon MP came out as pansexual and revealed she is in a relationship with a woman. The announcement marked another significant step forward for LGBTQ representation in parliament (Moran is believed to be the first UK parliamentarian to come out as pansexual).

Speaking to Pink News about her relationship, she explained what it’s like to be an LGBTQ person in parliament, calling it a “weird, backwards place” for the community. Moran also said she wanted people to know she was part of the LGBTQ community, because so much of her work is intertwined with it.

“We’re in a really committed, loving, supportive relationship, and I feel now is the time to talk about it, because as an MP I spend a lot of my time defending our community and talking about our community. I want people to know I am part of our community as well.”

She also spoke openly about other people’s reactions to her relationship, saying she was shocked when people questioned the seriousness of her relationship and asked whether it would be better for her career if her and her partner weren’t together. 

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“That was the moment where I realised – we like to think everything is equal, that no one cares, that it wouldn’t be a detriment,” she said. “The reason I’m speaking out is because I want to prove it’s not a detriment. It’s a great thing.”

Moran is the second MP to enter the leadership contest; last month, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse announced she was entering the race.

Nominations for the Liberal Democrats leadership open on 11 May and close on 28 May, before the ballot opens on 18 June and concludes on 15 July.

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