Even if they succeed in beating down the level of costs demanded by the prosecution, Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce will emerge from prison many thousands of pounds worse off than they were when they went in, and will need to earn money.
The landscape is bleak for Huhne. Politics is closed to him forever, and if he looks at precedents to see how other former MPs who have been to jail have rebuilt their lives, he will not be encouraged.
The most visible ex-MP, ex-jailbird is Jonathan Aitken, the perjurer who found God in prison and has reinvented himself as a writer and lecturer. If you are a vicar and want a penitent sinner to address your congregation, Aitken’s your man. But Aitken had inherited wealth to fall back on. Huhne was a wealthy man before his arrest, but not that wealthy.
John Stonehouse, who was jailed in the 1970s, wrote a few novels after his release, before collapsing during a television interview and subsequently dying. Horatio Bottomley, who was once the best-known case of someone who exchanged a seat in the Commons for a jail cell, spent his final days as a tawdry music hall act.
Vicky Pryce should not have to suffer anything so undignified, as her jail spell does not take away her status as one of the foremost economists. She will just have to brave the stares of her students if she goes back to lecturing.