Davis forces by-election over 'erosion of freedoms'

The shadow home secretary David Davis shocked Westminster today by announcing that he was resigning as an MP to "take a stand" against the Government's 42-day terror detention plan.

He said he was forcing a by-election to protest against the "insidious" erosion of civil liberties in Britain.





In his statement, Mr Davis said that until last night he believed Parliament was engaged in a "noble endeavour".

"I will argue in this by-election against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government," he added.



Mr Davis spearheaded the Conservatives' failed bid to defeat the Government over extending detention without charge, which caused disquiet among some Tory MPs.

As the resignation drama unfolded in Westminster, a Lib Dem spokeswoman confirmed the party would not be fielding a candidate in the resulting Howden and Haltemprice by-election - giving Mr Davis a clear run against a Labour candidate.





Mr Cameron, who promoted the shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve to take over from Mr Davis, described Mr Davis's decision as "courageous" and "wished him well", but insisted he had to have a "permanent" shadow cabinet.

"I wish David Davis well in his by-election campaign. I know the Conservatives - including me - will want to go and support him," Mr Cameron told reporters. "But my responsibility at all times is (to have) that strong permanent team ready for government."





Mr Davis's local party fully backed his decision, its chairman Duncan Gilmour said.

"David discussed early in the week what he would do if the result went against us last night. David is a man of principle and we fully back him," he told the Press Association.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "David Davis's decision to resign his seat and fight a by-election over the issue of 42 days is a dramatic move. I am grateful to him for having informed me following the vote of his intention to take this step.

"The Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed this unnecessary and illiberal proposal which poses a threat so serious to British liberties that it transcends party politics.

"I have therefore decided, after consultation with the party nationally and locally, that we will not stand a candidate at the forthcoming by-election which will be contested by David Davis solely on this issue.

"The Liberal Democrats will of course fight the Haltemprice and Howden seat as vigorously as ever at the next General Election."

The Lib Dems had targeted the seat in 2005 as part of its ill-fated "decapitation" strategy to unseat key Tory figures but Mr Davis was re-elected with a 5,116 majority.



The former home secretary David Blunkett dismissed the resignation as a "childish and immature" publicity stunt and urged his Labour party not to use public money to field a candidate in the by-election.

"David Davis's behaviour is a pure piece of political theatre, even more bizarre than John Major resigning as leader of the Tory Party in order to stand again against his own colleagues," he said.

"It is my view that neither the Labour Party nor the Liberal Democrats should give him the egotistical satisfaction of a contest in which he costs the public purse, as well as political parties, substantial sums of money to make exactly the same point that he's already been putting very strongly as shadow home secretary."



The communities secretary Hazel Blears said: "The Tories are plainly in disarray and confusion over the serious issue of national security."





Aides to Mr Davis had indicated that last night's vote was "do or die", and he had staked a great deal of his credibility on the outcome.

Privately Mr Davis has accepted that many on the Tory benches were uncomfortable about opposing tough law and order measures.

However, he is seen as one of the Shadow Cabinet's best operators, and has claimed the scalps of a succession of Home Secretaries.

His popularity among the Conservative grass roots was demonstrated when he came runner-up to David Cameron for the party leadership in 2005.

Mr Davis worked very closely with pressure group Liberty in mounting opposition to the proposals.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: "Last night's debate, and the brave Labour rebels in particular, showed that democrats from across the spectrum care passionately about rights and freedoms.

"MPs of all parties hold courage and conviction about these values and few more so than David Davis."

She said the 42-day policy was a "divisive and counter-productive folly and not the first of its kind".

"Liberty and security can go hand in hand; we don't defeat terrorism by bowing to it."

The Tory MP for Spelthorne, David Wilshire, said: "I am saddened that a good friend feels compelled to take such a drastic step, but I understand how strongly he feels about this abuse of human rights and the rule of law and I respect him for putting his beliefs before his personal interests.

"I sincerely hope we will be able to welcome him back soon."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Senior Financial Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Financial Analyst is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Secretary

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This major European Intellectual Propert...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness