Nick Clegg's absence from the new Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet team has overshadowed Tim Farron's big announcement today (29 July). The former deputy prime minister turned down the job offer in order to give Farron "space to set out his vision for the party", a Liberal Democrat source told IBTimes UK.
But the party insider revealed Clegg, who resigned after the yellows were reduced to just eight MPs after the general election, had not ruled out taking a position in Farron's team in the future. "At a later time he may well do, but at the moment he didn't want to," the source added.
The Sheffield Hallam MP's talents will likely be missed by Farron, who praised Clegg in his first speech as Liberal Democrat leader in early July.
However, Clegg become a controversial figure for voters after he U-turned on his pledge not to increase university tuition fees – a move he later apologised for. Farron, meanwhile, claimed his new shadow cabinet was the "most diverse" in the party's history.
"The team I am announcing today is the Liberal voice that Britain desperately needs. It features some of the best campaigners that the party has, balanced with the experience and economic credibility that our party has developed over the last five years in government," the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP.
"It was important to me to be able to call on the advice and experience of people at all levels of our party and I believe we have an excellent team to lead the Lib Dem fight back."
The team includes 12 women and 10 men, but only six MPs and 10 Liberal Democrat peers. The other six spokespeople, including former minister Lynne Featherstone, do not sit in parliament.
Norman Lamb, who was Farron's only competition in the Liberal Democrat leadership contest, has become the party's health spokesman. The former minister is known for his mental health campaigns and told IBTimes UK during the leadership race that the Liberal Democrats face an "existential crisis".
Elsewhere, Tom Brake MP will multitask as the party's foreign affairs spokesman, chief whip and leader of the house. Baroness Susan Kramer will serve as the Liberal Democrat economics spokeswoman and, among other positions, Baroness Zahida Manzoor will serve as the party's work and pensions spokesperson.