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Politics / Second resignation for councillor who opposed self-determination motion

A COUNCILLOR who opposed exploring options for achieving political and financial self-determination has now resigned from his role within the Shetland branch of the Liberal Democrats – saying that he is “not singing from the same hymn sheet” on the subject.

Stephen Leask’s resignation comes after he also stepped down from his role as vice-chair of Shetland Islands Council’s development committee less than a fortnight ago.

Councillor Stephen Leask.

Leask was one of two councillors who did not vote in favour of exploring ways of achieving more powers for Shetland at a vote in the council chamber last month.

He previously said his position as vice-chair on the development committee was “untenable” as his views on more autonomy were at “odds with the council’s political hierarchy”.

Speaking on Thursday, Leask – who was elected in 2017 as an independent councillor – said he felt he was “out of kilter” with the local Lib Dem leadership on the issue.

He said had been on the executive committee of the Shetland branch for the last few years.

“I spoke to Beatrice [Wishart, MSP], and everything was quite amicable, and emails I got from Alistair Carmichael were very friendly,” Leask said.

“I just felt on this position I felt I was probably not singing from the same hymn sheet as it were, and felt that it was probably best that I would resign from my position on the executive committee.”

The Lerwick councillor also said he withdrew his subscription to the Liberal Democrat party – but he “still holds his libertarian views”.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, who represents Orkney and Shetland, previously backed councillors’ moves to explore self-determination.