Tim Farron has announced he is to stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Farron, who became leader of the party following the resignation of Nick Clegg in the wake of the 2015 election, said he arrived at his decision because he was torn "between being a Christian and a political leader".

During the election campaign, Farron was frequently pushed to give his views on homosexuality and whether he viewed gay sex as a sin.

He said: "From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I've tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

"Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit. The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

"A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

"To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.

"I'm a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me."

He added: "There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it - it's not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.

"Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society. That's why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats."

The Lib Dems won 12 seats at the last general election, up four in 2015. Veteran Vince Cable, Ed Davey, and Jo Swinson are among those expected to be in the running to be the new party leader.