Tim Farron has been elected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, the party has announced.
The former Lostock Hall High School pupil, who also used to live in Penwortham and Hoghton, beat opponent Norman Lamb by 56.5 per cent to 43.5 per cent on a 56 per cent turnout in the contest to replace Nick Clegg.
Former party president Mr Farron thanked his supporters and said the job now was to “turn millions of liberals throughout the UK into Liberal Democrats”.
A magnanimous Mr Lamb congratulated the victor and said he will make a “fantastic” party leader who would champion social justice.
Mr Clegg said his successor will pick the party up and get it fighting again following its brutal election drubbing.
He said: “Tim Farron is a remarkable campaigner and a man of the utmost integrity and conviction.
“He is a natural communicator with a rare ability to inspire people and rally them to our cause. He knows how to win and I have no doubt he can pick the party up and get us fighting again.
“It has been a pleasure to serve alongside Tim in Parliament and a privilege to consider him a friend. I know he will be a brilliant leader and he will always have my support.”
He now faces the challenge of turning around the ailing party after it lost all but eight of its 57 Commons seats after five years in coalition government with the Conservatives.
Nearly 34,000 members voted in the leadership election, with Mr Farron securing 19,137 votes and Mr Lamb 14,760.
Mr Lamb, a former minister, said the new leader would have his “full backing”.
“This leadership election has energised and united our party,” he said.
“Tim Farron will be a passionate leader of our party, championing social justice and leading from the front in our campaign to rebuild the liberal voice in our country. I will give him my full backing.”