Tim Farron hails 'appetite for change' as Lib Dems notch up 100,000 members
The Liberal Democrats have passed 100,000 members as the party targeted one of Labour's most prominent Brexit backers.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said there was an "appetite for change" in the UK as he campaigned in Labour Eurosceptic Kate Hoey's seat.
But the devout Christian faced further questions over whether he viewed gay sex as a sin, insisting that his "personal faith" was a private matter.
The Lib Dems finished a distant fourth in Vauxhall in 2015, behind the Tories and Greens, but the constituency voted heavily for Remain in last year's EU referendum, while Ms Hoey was a prominent supporter of Brexit.
Mr Farron said the party was on course to record its highest ever membership, surpassing the 101,768 in 1994.
The Lib Dem leader said: "It tells you there is an appetite for change in British politics, and that the Liberal Democrats are the vehicle for that change."
He said Theresa May had called an election because she was facing the "worst opposition in human history" in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.
"She could not resist the political equivalent of stealing candy from a baby," he said.
"We will not allow this to be a coronation. We will make it a contest."
Challenged about his refusal to say whether he thinks gay sex is a sin, Mr Farron said: "I'm not going to give you an answer to that question.
"One's personal faith is one's personal faith. What counts is your actions and your beliefs in politics."
He said his track record on gay rights "speaks for itself", adding: "I am passionate about LGBT+ issues."
Activists jeered as reporters pressed for further clarification about Mr Farron's views in an indication of how uncomfortable the issue is for the Lib Dems and their leader.
In Vauxhall, the Lib Dems finished more than 20,000 votes behind Ms Hoey in 2015, with just 6.9% of the vote compared with the Labour MP's 53.8%.
But Mr Farron said: "The last 12 months have proved pretty much anything can happen in politics."
Before his arrival, an uninvited guest wandered into the church hall hosting the event and said he was a "poor man" who would "fight for my rights" before being ushered away by party aides.