AN MP educated in Chester has resigned his seat after a cash-for-questions scandal led to his suspension from Parliament for six months.
Patrick Mercer, who attended The King’s School, quit as MP for Newark, Nottinghamshire, after the sleaze watchdog agreed to plans to suspend him from the House of Commons.
The former Army colonel, who was born in Stockport, is alleged to have tabled Commons questions and offered a Westminster security pass after signing a deal that paid him £4,000 for seeking the readmission of Fiji to the Commonwealth.
He told reporters in Westminster he was going to do what he could to “put it right” for the people of Newark and for his wife and family, “who have been under such pressure for the last year”. Mr Mercer added: “As an ex-soldier I believe that when I have got something wrong you have got to ‘fess’ up and get on with it.
“No point in shilly shallying and trying to avoid it.
“What’s happened has happened and I’m ashamed of it.”
Mr Mercer resigned the Tory whip when the allegations emerged in May last year to “save my party embarrassment’’ and said at the time he would quit the Commons at the 2015 General Election.
The decision by the Commons Standards Committee to impose a six-month suspension from Parliament prompted him to bring forward the date.
Mr Mercer served as Shadow Homeland Security Minister until 2007, stepping down after suggesting that racism was “part and parcel’’ of life in the forces.
Newark Conservative Association quashed speculation that Mayor of London Boris Johnson could stand in the seat by announcing that Robert Jenrick had been selected as the Tory candidate.
A Conservative spokesman said: “We agree Patrick Mercer needs to stand down and there should be a by-election so the people of Newark can have a new MP.”
There had also been intense media speculation that UKIP leader Nigel Farage would stand as a candidate in the seat but he has said ruled himself out.
Conservative Cabinet minister Ken Clarke, who represents the neighbouring seat of Rushcliffe, said Mr Farage had backed out because he knew he could not win.
“ Whatever else Nigel is, he is not an idiot and I don’t think he’d have the faintest chance of winning,” he BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
See full story in the Chester Leader