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Whether you're scared of Brexit or the EU - everything is temporary, says Tim Farron

by Cara Bentley

Speaking in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday evening before he was called to vote on MPs taking over the parliamentary agenda, Tim Farron MP said: "We're in a place where ambition is often very naked and very personal and there's nothing wrong with people, with Christians, with anybody, having personal ambition".

Talking about his new book, he said: "I guess I reflect on the extent to which mine [his ambition] was pure and less so."

Tim Farron was leader of the Lib Dems after Nick Clegg stepped down in 2015 and he resigned in 2017, saying he had been "torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader" and he cited the hymn 'When I Survey' in his resignation speech. 

Farron, who has been the member of parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005, said that evaluating his own motives "puts in perspective the sense that there is something better to live for, which is essentially why I stepped down as leader, as there are things far more important. I think that hope keeps a lot of people, certainly keeps me, sane in these incredibly troubled times and is a reminder that all empires and all kings - they're all temporary.

"I can be deeply, deeply troubled by the state of the country. Whatever side of the Brexit divide you find yourself on, always remember that the European Union, Brexit, Britain, they're all temporary.

"If you take a look at the book of Revelation, it is littered with references to Babylon and the first readers of Revelation were very, very, very marginalised, persecuted Christians in the Roman world. Babylon had been in ruins for 600-700 years at that point - why talk about Babylon? Because it's a reminder that oppressive, powerful, overbearing Rome would go the same way - and it does, when we look at Hadrian's wall now we patronise it as tourists, it's not the terrifying Empire anymore.

"Whatever it is you're terrified of at the moment, whether it's Brexit, whether it's the European Union, Donald Trump, I promise you this - they're temporary, and they will be in ruins at some point in the not too distant future and so, that being the case, maybe it's important to live for something even better."

Speaking to Premier about the future of the Lib Dems, when asked if it was becoming a party where members had to have 'PC' views, he said he joined as a Christian who was open about his faith and that he was "still dutifully serving under Jo [Swinson]'s leadership in the reasonably senior position of the party's former leader now". 

He added "Any old authoritarian can fight for the rights and the freedoms of people that they agree with. So, they're not liberals. If, however, you fight for the rights of people whose worldview is quite different to yours, that means you probably are a liberal and I think that's what the Liberal Democrats today and the liberals before us were extremely good at, not going with the grain, standing up for those of us that were marginalised, even if one didn't agree with them yourselves.

"The real danger is - and some people do this - they think that just because I think X is wrong, I must make it illegal. No, that's totally wrong. Or unless people agree with me they aren't to be tolerated, both of those are totally wrong-headed and they're both utterly illiberal and the danger is...that liberalism is sort of beginning to eat itself by being tolerant of everything except for stuff that isn't what I agree with. That's not a liberal."

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