“Look Nick,” said Opik, during an interview on the BBC, “you can’t be deputy prime minister and leader of the party.

“If Nick’s watching I’d like to ask him to do, to use his phrase, what is not easy, but right. 

“In the collective interest, really not be leader of the party in the next election, and set a timetable now for that transition.”

While Clegg has said of the results, that saw many Liberal Democrat councillors lose theirs seats: “It’s been a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats.

“I’m really sad that so many colleagues and friends, Liberal Democract councillors who have worked so hard, so tirelessly, for so many years, for communities and families in their local areas have lost their seats.

“And I want to pay tribute to all the work they’ve done.

“Our duty is to restore a sense of hope and optimism to the country,” he added.

Clegg went on to say that he hoped voters would eventually see that the Liberal Democrats would come to be seen as the only party who combined responsibility in the economy with social fairness.

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