Barracked of Bracknell limps out of Commons

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Indy Politics

David Cameron's former aide Andrew MacKay is to stand down as an MP after becoming a "distraction" to the Conservative leader's attempt to become prime minister.

The Tory MP for Bracknell became the most high-profile casualty so far of the Westminster expenses scandal, after being barracked by angry constituents on Friday evening.

The dramatic announcement came as Mr MacKay's wife, fellow Tory MP Julie Kirkbride, came under pressure as it emerged that her brother stayed regularly at her taxpayer-funded home. Ian Kirkbride had been listed on the electoral register as living at their Worcestershire home since 2004, according to a report in the News of the World. He had also registered a business at the property's address.

Ms Kirkbride confirmed that her brother stayed there, as well as at the couple's London flat, but said he helped with childcare for their son. She admitted that they also have an au pair.

Mr MacKay announced he was quitting after receiving a telephone call from the Tory leader yesterday morning. He had resigned as Mr Cameron's parliamentary aide a week earlier, but had intended to stay on as MP for Bracknell, where the Tories have a healthy 12,036 majority.

But following farcical scenes at a meeting with constituents on Friday, Mr MacKay's hopes of remaining an MP evaporated.

Conservative sources insisted the MP had not been sacked, but an insider said it was made clear that he would have to go.

The couple both claimed close to the maximum £23,083-a-year second-home allowance for each other's homes. The arrangement emerged when Mr Cameron demanded to see the expenses of his Shadow Cabinet and closest advisers this month. A Tory source said, however, that Ms Kirkbride had a "clear first home in London and a constituency home in Bromsgrove", while Mr MacKay had tried to claim his main home was the West Midlands property.

In a statement last night, Ms Kirkbride said: "I claim no expenses for my brother and neither do I pay him or claim for his help. There is no cost to the taxpayer... and there is nothing for me to apologise for."

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