Michael Brown: Prepare for retirements – and even resignations

A general feeling of unfairness has pervaded the corridors of Westminster

Share
Related Topics

MPs' mail is usually collected daily from the members' post office, just off the lobby outside the Commons chamber, by their secretaries or research assistants. But, from my own experience, whenever an MP is expecting an embarrassing item of correspondence he or she will collect the bundle of letters in person. This morning MPs will be furtively checking for the communication from Sir Thomas Legg, before their secretaries get there first.

This will turn out to be a damp squib. Many MPs, including Gordon Brown, may find that there have been mere technical breaches of the rules. The voluntary repayment of a few hundred pounds for carpet cleaning may resolve the matter.

According to Sir Stuart Bell, a member of the Members' Estimates Committee, the remit given to Sir Thomas was "to respect the decisions of the Fees Office in accordance with the rules at the time". Many MPs are worried, however, that if they are told to repay money it will be according to the prevailing standards of today.

But the biggest danger is for those in the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet who escaped the earlier summary justice that Gordon Brown and David Cameron meted out to more disposable backbenchers. A general feeling of unfairness – that the party leaders protected their chosen friends – has pervaded the corridors of Westminster, and it will be interesting to see whether high-profile frontbench expenses claimants are forced to resign.

I suspect that the nightmare summer recess during which many have been on the receiving end of constituents' sharp tongues will encourage further retirements in the coming weeks. I heard of one MP's wife, loyally shopping in the local constituency high street butcher, leaving in tears as – in front of a shop full of customers – the butcher gave her the receipt: "I know you need this to claim the weekend joint off the taxpayer."

This saga will rumble on until, later this year, Sir Christopher Kelly announces the new rules on pay and expenses. Pressure is mounting for the party leaders to agree, in advance, to whatever he recommends. Frankly, the issue will only be resolved on polling day next May, when over 300 new MPs are expected to be elected.

On the basis of the sample local leaflets Tory candidates showed me last week at their conference, most won't even be claiming for so much as a bus ticket. The power of incumbency will have given way to the purity of the newcomer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
The colours of autumn leaves are among the many pleasures of the coming season  

In Sickness and in Health: As autumn arrives, more of us should wear high-vis clothes

Rebecca Armstrong
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week