David Laws plans to get back to work as local MP

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Former Cabinet minister David Laws today said he planned to get back to work as a local MP after his dramatic resignation from the coalition Government.

The Liberal Democrat stood down as Chief Secretary to the Treasury after he admitted channelling tens of thousands of pounds of public money in rent to his long-term partner.

Mr Laws said he would now see whether he still had the "confidence" of his constituents in Yeovil, Somerset.

In a statement to local media, he said: "I have paid a high price for trying to keep my sexuality a secret. Losing your privacy, your Cabinet job and your perceived integrity within 48 hours isn't very easy.

"But I accept that I should have been more open and should have set a better example as a public figure.

"I will now need to take a few days to recover from the events of the last week and I then intend to get back to my work as local MP.

"There are many people with far greater problems than I have and they are entitled to expect me to get on with the job which I am paid to do."

He added: "I love my job as local MP, and it is the greatest job and responsibility which I will ever have.

"Over the weeks ahead, I will want to understand whether I still have the confidence of my constituents, without which it would be difficult to continue my work."

The Daily Telegraph revealed that between 2004 and 2007, Mr Laws claimed between £700 and £950 a month to sub-let a room in a flat in Kennington, south London, from his partner, lobbyist James Lundie.

Mr Lundie sold the flat for a profit of £193,000 in 2007, buying another house nearby for £510,000.

The MP then began claiming to rent the "second bedroom" in this property. His claims increased to £920 a month. Since 2006, Parliamentary rules have banned MPs from "leasing accommodation from a partner".

Mr Laws said he was grateful for kind comments from "thousands of people" over the past few days.

"It has been a very emotional experience to find so many people willing to stand by me at this difficult time," he said.

"My problems have been caused by my unwillingness to be open about my sexuality and not by any intention to exploit the MPs' expenses system.

"James Lundie and I were aware that we could have been far better off financially if I had been willing to be open about our relationship - but I was not.

"I grew up at a time when homosexuality had only just been legalised and when most people still thought it was wrong or shameful.

"I decided, therefore, to keep my sexuality secret, and the further time went on the more difficult it seemed to be to tell the truth.

"When the rules changed in 2006 to prevent MPs from renting from partners, I should probably have changed our arrangements.

"I could have done so without any financial cost, but getting a mortgage and buying a house together would have meant revealing our relationship - which I was not prepared to do."

Mr Lundie had never used the parliamentary entitlement to travel for partners nor any financial entitlement that would result from the "formal recognition of partnership", he added.

Mr Laws said: "That is why I thought it would be all right for him to be treated as just a friend, when actually we were much more than that."

The MP retained his seat with 55.7% of the vote on May 7, against 32.9% for the Conservatives.