Huhne may have a future, but not in politics

DISGRACED former MP Chris Huhne yesterday began his jail term for perverting the course of justice as speculation spread over whether the shamed politician would be able to revive his career when he is released.

Huhne’s political successor used his maiden Commons speech earlier this week to pay tribute to his shamed former colleague, sparking suggestions the jailed ex-Cabinet Minister still had backing among his fellow Liberal Democrats.

Mike Thornton, the new Lib Dem MP for Huhne’s former constituency of Eastleigh, said during a Commons debate on banking reforms that his predecessor’s political contribution “must not be overshadowed by recent events”.

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“He was a dedicated constituency MP,” Mr Thornton said. “Let us not forget his outstanding service as Secretary Of State For Energy And Climate Change, driving our transition to a green economy.”

Former Energy Minister Huhne, 58, and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce, 60, were each jailed on Monday for eight months for perverting the course of justice after she took three speeding points for him in 2003. Their imprisonment came exactly 10 years to the day since the speeding offence that led the downfall. Political reaction to the saga – dubbed a “personal tragedy” by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – was muted. Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown said Huhne could possibly return to public life – but his political career was over.

“You never say never in politics, but if I ever said never about anything I’d say it about this,” he said. Lord Ashdown said he believed in “redemption”, however, and Mr Huhne could find a role in public life “after a decent period in which I think an important part of that will be silence and reflection”.

Lib-Dem MEP Chris Davies, a friend of Huhne, said his experience had been like being placed “in the stocks”. Labour MP Simon Danczuk said: “This is a sad end to a political career. What did for him was not the offence but the lies he kept telling to keep the cover-up going. There’s only ever one result if you adopt this approach in politics.”

But there was time for humorous reflection too, as Labour’s John Mann tweeted: “So many ex-MPs going to jail that the Scrubs should start having inmates manufacturing red dispatch boxes.”