With the odds-on favourite stunningly ruling herself out, Neil Monnery looks at where things stand in the race to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats...
'Norman Lamb though has a massive issue when it comes to contesting and subsequently winning this race, his position on Brexit. For the membership to vote for someone who isn't full of the joys of spring with regards to how important the EU is for the country, it would need some wizardry.'
When Jo Swinson announced that she wasn't ready for the job of leader of the Lib Democrats, it simultaneously saddened and shocked the majority of Lib Dem activists on social media. Having got 57% of first preferences according to a survey of members undertaken by the prominent blogger Mark Pack, it seemed that all she had to do was confirm her intention to stand and it was a fait accompli. Instead we are seeing a coalescing of the market with three candidate all within striking distance of one another on the Exchange.
For many attention has turned to Vince Cable. Without a shadow of a doubt the most well-known member of the party who is in the mix to stand. People forget that in 2010 before the so-called, 'Cleggmania', the Lib Dem battle bus had both their leader and Cable painted on to the side. This was because many still saw Nick Clegg as an unknown whereas the MP for Twickenham had some cachet.
The 74-year-old has distanced himself from running in the past claiming that he was too old for the job. Now though with the spectre of Brexit hanging over the country, many see the experience Cable brings with him from his time spent in the cabinet as a big plus. His age, which was thought to be a real issue is suddenly less of a problem with the favourite saying she isn't ready. The idea of Sir Vince taking on the role in the short-term with Swinson acting as his deputy before stepping up to the top job is being widely touted.
Ed Davey confirmed on Twitter on Sunday night that he originally had no intentions of standing. He instead planned to back Jo Swinson. Now he is giving it serious thought. The former Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change is seen by many as the wildcard in the race. Many members have knowledge and strong opinions on both Norman Lamb and Vince Cable but the MP for Kingston & Surbiton has stayed under the radar somewhat.
When news of Swinson deciding not to run came out, it was Davey who was quickly priced up as favourite by layers on the Exchange. He has drifted since and is currently available to back at [3.5]. If the vote was today and his name was on the ballot, it is likely he wouldn't win. After a round of hustings though this may change. One to watch.
The favourite Norman Lamb though has a massive issue when it comes to contesting and subsequently winning this race: his position on Brexit. For the membership to vote for someone who isn't full of the joys of spring with regards to how important the EU is for the country, it would need some wizardry. By abstaining on the vote regarding the triggering of Article 50, the MP for North Norfolk alienated many of the new members who joined the party solely because of its unabashed Pro-EU position. So, despite his great work on mental health, I just can't see enough people backing him. I'd lay him at [2.5] or shorter on the Exchange when the liquidity picks up.
Sunday evening saw a quick groundswell of opinion that Layla Moran should run. The former teacher hasn't even been an MP for a fortnight but with some sections of the party thinking it is just time for a woman, her name quickly became one that was spreading like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter. Yet despite not seemingly ruling herself out as yet, it would seem highly unlikely that a brand new member of parliament would go for it.
So this leaves us with a battle of the south-west London knights of the realm. Will Ed Davey blaze a path to Lib Dem supporters hearts or will it be Vince Cable who finally gets a chance to leads his party?
Whatever happens it is unlikely to end well as the one unification candidate has decided the time isn't right. The hope of the Lib Dems seems to be moving towards Swinson taking up the job sooner rather than later and in that scenario, the membership are likely to vote for Cable over Davey in the short-term.
You can follow @neilmonnery on twitter where he'll tweet about the latest movements on the Lib Dem leadership contest