Nigel Farage: Ukip leader confirms he will not stand in Newark by-election

Farage confirmed he will not stand in a by-election triggered by former Tory MP Patrick Mercer's departure

Nigel Farage has said that he will not stand in the Newark by-election sparked by former Tory minister Patrick Mercer's decision to quit over a cash-for-questions scandal.

The Ukip leader said he did not want to do anything that would distract from the party's campaign for next month's European elections, where he predicted Ukip would cause an "earthquake in British politics".

Yesterday, Mr Farage admitted he was "tempted to stand" and said winning a seat in Westminster would "completely transform the landscape" for his party.

But today he told the BBC: "I don't want to do anything that deflects from the European election campaign, so I am not going to stand in this by-election.

"I want to focus the next three weeks on winning the European elections."

"There is a much bigger prize than the Newark by-election and that is the general election in 2015."

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, he had argued David Cameron would have to resign if he did win the seat, but believed he would be "finished" if he stands and loses Newark, saying: "the bubble is burst".

Mr Mercer decided to resign after learning he faced a six-month suspension from Westminster.

The former army colonel is alleged to have tabled Commons questions and offered a Westminster security pass after signing a deal that paid him £4,000 for seeking the readmission of Fiji to the Commonwealth.

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

The penalty was agreed by the Commons standards committee and was due to be formally announced tomorrow.

Mr Mercer won Newark from Labour in 2005 and built up his majority to 16,000 at the last election.

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.

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.

He admitted he was "ashamed" and had many regrets as he announced his intention to stand down as the MP for Newark after facing a six month ban from parliament.

Mr Mercer added: "As an ex-soldier I believe that when I have got something wrong you have got to fess up and get on with it.

"No point in shilly shallying and trying to avoid it. What's happened has happened and I'm ashamed of it."

A Conservative spokesman said: "We agree that Patrick Mercer needs to stand down and that there should be a by-election so the people of Newark can have a new MP."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral