Iris Robinson, MP for Strangford and a member of the Stormont assembly, was yesterday expelled from the Democratic Unionist Party after an astonishing sex scandal which has gripped Ulster.
The sudden move came as Mr Robinson, who is struggling to stay on as First Minister of Northern Ireland, said he had been "unable to get any coherent responses" from his wife.
Mrs Robinson, who suffers from depression, has admitted an affair with a 19-year-old man, and the BBC has revealed she has been involved in "dubious" financial dealings.
A DUP source said: "The next few days are critical for the party. There was no question about it – she had to go. There was no sympathy for her position."
Mrs Robinson is to withdraw from public life, giving up her political posts, while Mr Robinson has asked for a senior lawyer to examine his own conduct.
Their troubles have received a chilly reception from their party. Senior MP Gregory Campbell said Mr Robinson should be given a week to prove he has broken no rules. He added: "Peter has asked for a week to resolve those issues, respond to them and refute them." The Rev David McIlveen, a Free Presbyterian minister and close to the Rev Ian Paisley, the DUP's founder, said Mr Robinson should consider stepping down temporarily, saying "His position is becoming untenable."
The inquiry Mr Robinson has agreed to will be hampered by his wife's state. "Her solicitor and I have been unable to get any coherent responses. I don't like doing this. You're dealing with somebody's mental illness."