KIRSTY Williams has stepped down as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats after her biggest election win in her political career.

Despite conformably winning her long established seat in Brecon and Radnorshire with 52.1 per cent of the votes, overall the Welsh Liberal Democrats lost out on their other four seats.

In a statement issued on May 6, Ms Williams said: “Despite our best efforts, and a positive campaign, it has not been enough. And for that, I must take responsibility.

In these new circumstances, the party will want to reflect and consider the way forward and that will require new leadership. So today I’m announcing my resignation as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.”

Looking back to the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition in the former UK government, Ms Williams said: “While I don’t regret the decision we took as a party in 2010 to enter into coalition, on days like this, it is only human to question our sacrifice.”

Sending his thanks, former Liberal Dremocrat leader, Nick Clegg tweeted: “@Kirsty_Williams has been a brilliant and formidable leader. Head and shoulders above other party leaders in Wales. Thanks for all you’ve done.”

Giving her own thanks, Ms Williams said: “Most of all I would like to thank my family. They have been my rock throughout the last eight years.

“It’s not easy living with a politician, let alone the leader of a political party, but they have always stood by me, especially when times have got tough. While it is my intention to stand down as leader I am proud that the people of Brecon and Radnorshire once more put their faith in me to represent them.

“When I return to the Assembly, while Welsh Liberal Democrat voices may not be as numerous as before, the people of Brecon and Radnorshire can be assured that their voice will be heard louder than ever.”

While the Liberal Democrats were the big losers in the Assembly election, UKIP were the big winners, gaining seven seats.

Ms Williams said: “It is clear that the rise of UKIP shows that the politics of blame and resentment is catching on here in Wales. This is not the Wales I know.

“Liberals believe that diversity and tolerance is a strength, not a weakness. People who think likewise, across all parties, need to unite and not turn a blind eye.

“We have a fight on our hands to ensure fear doesn’t win the day.”

More election news on pages 7 to 9.