Statement to members here:
First, I'd like to thank all members for everything that you are doing to help our candidates in the European and local elections (if you have local elections in your area). I am sure that they appreciate your support at a difficult time in politics. If you are standing yourself, then obviously I wish you the best of luck!
My reason for writing is that I have decided to make the current election campaigns my last as Chief Executive. I discussed this with Nick some time ago and I have given notice to the Party President that I will stand down as Chief Executive at the end of the Summer.
I want to be able to work more flexibly in future whilst of course continuing to help our party advance. I believe that I will be better able to do so without the administrative burdens of being Chief Executive and running the party's day to day organisation.
For family and health reasons, I have needed to change the way in which I work. My wife Ann has supported me enormously in all my work. But since she retired a few years ago after more than 35 years teaching, we wanted to have something of a more normal life outside the Westminster bubble.
This has become more important to me as I have struggled to maintain good diabetic control with the rigours of a very demanding lifestyle. This has proved to be increasingly difficult whilst carrying out the role of Chief Executive at HQ and around the country.
I decided that this Summer would be the best time for me and for the party to make a change. I am letting the party know this now, so that it can take the necessary steps to appoint a new Chief Executive in the Autumn.
My major work as Chief Executive in recent years has been to help create new structures for the party organisation and help to recruit an extremely strong professional team to work for it. The role of Chief Executive has therefore changed significantly since I undertook this role six years ago.
By the Summer, we will have had crucial local and European elections and I believe that we will do well in them. I am also confident that Nick Clegg will prove to be the most successful Leader that we have ever had. I am immensely proud of the roles that I have played so far in securing the steady advance of the Liberal Democrat cause. Our values and beliefs have never been more important than they are today. I will, of course, continue to support the General Election campaign, but not as chair.
Finally, I would just like to thank all members personally for all the support that I have had whilst working for the party and I look forward to continuing to work with you in future.
With all best wishes,
PS I thought about letting you know this after the current round of elections, but having taken the decision and informed the Leader and President, I wanted you to hear directly from me and to fully understand why I have been trying to make lifestyle changes and will make an even more significant one later this year.
Nick Clegg has issued the following statement:
Commenting on the decision by Chris Rennard to stand down as Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg said:
"It is impossible to exaggerate Chris' immense contribution to the Liberal Democrats over the years. Without Chris' unique skills as one of the country's most astute and effective political campaigners, I doubt that the party would now have the largest number of MPs in decades.
"More recently, his work as Chief Executive of the party has been invaluable in steering the party through some turbulent times and significantly professionalising the organisational aspects of the party.
"I am especially grateful to him for the invaluable support he gave to me when I first became party Leader. At all times, he has been utterly loyal, hard working and dedicated to the wider good of the Party.
"He will be sorely missed as Chief Executive by the many people in the party for whom he has been a huge inspiration for years.
"Whilst I understand Chris' reasons for moving on as Chief Executive, I am equally looking forward to drawing on his immense wisdom and insight into politics in the years ahead."