ERIC Illsley has announced he will quit as an MP after over-claiming £14,500 in expenses and said he "deeply, deeply" regrets his actions.
Amid intense pressure for him to give up his seat – and manoeuvres to force him from it if he did not go willingly – the veteran Barnsley Central MP said he will resign before he is sentenced next month.
David Cameron and Ed Miliband had both urged him to stand down after pleading guilty to three charges of false accounting at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday.
Yesterday Illsley, who pocketed the money in inflated claims for council tax, utility bills and maintenance on his London property, apologised for the "distress and embarrassment" his actions had caused.
The MP, who has already been suspended by Labour, said: "I would like to apologise to my constituents, family and friends, following my court appearance, for the distress and embarrassment caused by my actions that I deeply, deeply regret. I have begun to wind down my parliamentary office, following which I will resign from Parliament before my next court appearance."
Illsley announced his decision after Labour whips made clear he would face a cross-party expulsion motion unless he went voluntarily. Even allies accepted his position was untenable.
His announcement – which will spark a by-election in the safe Labour seat when he officially quits – came shortly after Speaker John Bercow ruled that the House of Commons would not be able to force him out until after he is sentenced next month.
He stopped MPs from raising the issue on the floor of the Commons yesterday.