THE COALITION government faces a divisive by-election after Chris Huhne yesterday admitted perverting the course of justice and announced his resignation from parliament on the day his trial was due to begin.
The former Lib Dem cabinet minister faces jail after admitting handing speeding penalty points to his then wife Vicky Pryce in 2003. The trial of Pryce, who pleads not guilty on the grounds of marital coercion, will begin today.
Huhne’s resignation means a by-election for his Eastleigh seat, a Tory-Lib Dem marginal, must be held within the next three months. The Hampshire seat is one of the constituencies the Conservatives must win if they want a majority at the next general election.
Last night Ukip leader Nigel Farage was considering whether to stand as a candidate in the poll.
Mark Spragg of Keystone Law told City A.M. that Huhne is “looking at twelve months” behind bars and a bill of at least £150,000 following a two year legal battle: “If he had pleaded guilty when first interviewed by police he might just might have escaped prison with a suspended sentence or fine.”