Patrick Mercer resigns as Conservative MP for Newark – and Nigel Farage says he may fight for seat in by-election

The former MP was banned from Parliament for six months on Tuesday

Deputy Political Editor

David Cameron faces a damaging by-election defeat after a former Conservative MP dramatically resigned from the Commons over sleaze allegations.

Patrick Mercer announced he was quitting as the MP for Newark, Notts, following accusations he broke parliamentary rules over lobbying.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, signalled he was considering whether to stand in the by-election which is likely to take place in June.

The Tories – already facing coming third in next month’s Euro-elections – would face an uphill struggle to hold on to the seat.

Mr Mercer decided to resign after learning he faced a six-month suspension from Westminster as punishment for his behaviour. The penalty was agreed by the Commons standards committee and was due to be formally announced tomorrow.

Mr Mercer, who has sat as an independent since quitting the Tory whip 11 months ago, last night said he accepted the committee’s verdict and apologised to his constituents for his conduct.

The former army colonel won Newark from Labour in 2005 – partly helped by the sitting MP facing allegations over her expenses – and built up his majority to 16,000 at the last election.

Read more: An everyday story of deception in Parliament
Fiji reacts angrily to its depiction in Patrick Mercer lobbying affair

Ukip came fourth with less than four per cent of the vote, but the backlash against Mr Mercer could turn the by-election into an attractive prospect for the anti-European Union party. It is certain to create a headache for Mr Cameron, who is braced for the Tories to be outpolled by Ukip and Labour in the European parliamentary elections on May 22.

Mr Farage indicated yesterday that he could stand as long as the contest takes place after the Euro-elections. He said: “I will give it serious consideration.“

In a statement outside the Commons, Mr Mercer said: “It is clear to me 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.”

Mr Mercer secretly filmed by reporters last year apparently accepting £4,000 to lobby on behalf of Fiji, which faces accusations of human rights abuses.

He apparently agreed to set up a parliamentary group to press for the south Pacific nation to return to the Commonwealth.

Ahead of last year’s report, Mr Mercer announced he was referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. He also said he was resigning the Tory whip and had decided not to stand at the 2015 general election.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Scientists believe Mercury is coated in billions of years’ worth of carbon dust, after being ‘dumped on’ by passing comets
science
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Software Developer / Programmer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Software Developer / Program...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executives

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of Europe's leading prov...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£30,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a perso...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor