Mercer resignation could open door for Farage challenge

DISGRACED FORMER Tory MP Patrick Mercer is to quit Parliament after a sleaze watchdog was poised to recommended he should be suspended from the Commons.

The resignation of the Newark MP, who sits as an independent after resigning the Tory whip, prompted immediate speculation UKIP leader Nigel Farage may choose to fight the by-election in a bid to secure a Westminster seat while his party rides high in the polls.

The Commons Standards Committee is due to report its findings tomorrow, but a Commons source confirmed that it would recommend a six-month suspension over allegations he agreed to accept cash from a lobbying firm.

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Mr Mercer said: “It is clear to me that the constituency of Newark needs to be represented properly. I will not argue with the findings of the committee and I can only humbly apologise.

“My military background has taught me that you must never let down the people who depend on you, and those people are my constituents of Newark. If that becomes the case, you must go without any argument.”

The resignation follows allegations that he had set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) at the request of undercover reporters posing as lobbyists seeking to lift Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth.

Mr Mercer is alleged to have tabled Commons questions and offered a Westminster security pass after signing a deal 
with a lobbying firm that paid him £4,000 for seeking the readmission of Fiji to the Commonwealth.