The 76-year-old arch Remainer has followed in Mrs May’s footsteps and quit his role as leader of his own party, adding his last day in the job would be the end of July. He said: “I will be proud to hand over a bigger, stronger party on July 23rd.” His announcement came a matter of hours after Mrs May’s, which saw her shed tears on the famous steps of No10.
His resignation letter reads: “I said earlier this year that the time would soon come to hand over the leadership of the party to a new generation. That process begins today: I will be proud to hand over a bigger, stronger party on July 23rd.
“If you have friends who would want to vote in the election to choose my successor urge them to join by Friday 7 June. Every new member an help shape our future.
“There are major challenges ahead. One is to win, finally, the battle to stop Brexit. Our campaigning has given hope, now we need to secure a referendum in Parliament, and then win it.”
Sir Vince’s resignation comes the same day as Mrs May’s who gave a tearful speech.
It is expected Boris Johnson will take over her role when she officially stands down, also on June 7.
Other contenders are Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid.
It is widely expected that Brexiteer Mr Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary in protest against Mrs May’s hated Chequers agreement last summer, will pursue a no deal Brexit.
On Friday, he heaped praise on Mrs May in a Twitter post that saw him admire her “very dignified statement” outside No10.
He said: “A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.”
Sir Vince has served as leader of the Lib Dems since July 2017 and as MP of Twickenham from 1997 to 2015 and since June 2017.
Initially he was active in the Labour Party in the 1970s before deferring to the Lib Dems in 1982.
He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament at the general elections of 1970, 1983, 1987, and 1992.