Tim Farron
Tim Farron is the frontrunner in the race to replace Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader Getty

Tim Farron has dropped his support for the reintroduction of the 50p tax rate after infamously defying Nick Clegg over the issue.

The Liberal Democrat leadership frontrunner was once an outspoken supporter of the additional tax bracket and described the coalition government's decision to scrap it as "morally repugnant" and "economically witless" in 2011.

Farron, then president of the Liberal Democrats, was also supportive of a vote at the Liberal Democrat's 2013 conference in Glasgow to increase the top earners' rate from 45p to 50p on those earning £150,000 ($234,000) or more a year.

Clegg came perilously close to defeat on the issue as a majority of just four (224 vs 220) Liberal Democrat members swung the vote in favour of the leadership and opposed the motion.

But now Farron, who is up against Norman Lamb in the contest to replace Clegg as the party's leader, has told IBTimes UK he would not support the reintroduction of the 50p rate.

"All taxation is temporary and to have any kind of ideological fixation on a percentage is just very foolish," he said.

The 45-year-old explained he understood why the last government came down from 50p but argued it "sent out an unfortunate message".

"As we were trying to encourage the country to make savings and tackle the appalling financial circumstance we inherited, it didn't send out the best message," Farron added.

Instead of resurrecting the threshold, the leadership contender said he wants to "shift the balance of taxation away from income and on to wealth".

'The party for entrepreneurs'

Farron also wants the Liberal Democrats to become the party for entrepreneurs, warning the small business sector has been "sniffed at too long by people on the left of British politics".

He said: "The entrepreneurial spirit is basically the Liberal spirit – it's about creativity, it's about ambition, it's about taking risks and it's about doing good things for others by providing work."

Farron argued the government could help to achieve this by providing small businesses with "protections through proper regulation in the market place".

But how would the Liberal Democrats differentiate themselves from the Tories, who bill themselves as Britain's pro-business party?

Farron claimed David Cameron's party "favour the big guys" and argued the yellows, under his leadership, would be on the side of the business underdogs.

"We should always be on the side of those challenging the system because that's where creativity happens and that's where Britain takes a lead because we nurture new talent," he said.

For those out of work, Farron also has something to offer. He supports the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment of introducing a "yellow card system", which would give benefit claimants a second chance before being sanctioned.

On top of that, Farron wants to help small employers move towards offering the Living Wage of £9.15 per hour inside London and £7.85 per hour outside the capital.

"We are spending such a vast amount of money of in-work benefits. We need to look at how we can help smaller employers to move towards a living wage. You do that, potentially, by providing them with tax breaks, exemptions and even subsidies that could come from the direct savings from people not having to claim in-work benefits," he said.

Farron's political future will be revealed on 16 July when the announcement of Clegg's successor will be made.