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Former Tory MP Patrick Mercer has triggered a by-election after he resigned over allegations he was paid to ask questions in Parliament.
The decision to step down could provide an opportunity for Ukip leader Nigel Farage to contest a Westminster seat as polls show his party has gained popularity.Mr Farage said he is seriously considering running for Mr Mercer s seat, but added it was massively important to focus on the European election on May 22. Jon Craig, Sky News Chief Political Correspondent, said: Mr Farage has always said he would not stand in a by-election until after the European elections. The European elections are on May 22, it s virtually impossible for a by-election to be held on the same day. So we re looking at really a by-election in June or July realistically, and it s possible Mr Farage may throw his hat in the ring and my goodness that would be an electrifying by-election, an absolute nightmare for David Cameron. Mr Mercer made a statement on College Green following claims he set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group for undercover reporters posing as lobbyists. He said: I argue with nothing the Committee has said or may not have said because I still don t know officially. With great heaviness of heart, and I m hoping the people of Newark will be able to tolerate me in future, I m hoping they will, I m going to resign my seat in God s county of Nottinghamshire in the town of Newark. I hope that my successor who has been very carefully chosen will be the Conservative candidate. Mr Mercer admitted he was ashamed as he announced his resignation and apologised for what had happened. He added he wanted to put things right and that there was no point shilly-shallying . He said: 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. Tory MP Julian Brazier said Mr Mercer s resignation was an honourable gesture . The Canterbury MP said: I am saddened by three aspects of this matter - first Patrick Mercer, a gallant and decorated former soldier as well as a personal friend, made an error of judgement, which he has freely and openly acknowledged. Mr Brazier also called for an inquiry into how the Standards Committee s recommendation that Mr Mercer be suspended from the Commons for six months became public before it was due to release its findings on Thursday. It was claimed Mr Mercer tabled questions in the Commons and offered a Commons security pass after signing a deal with a lobbying firm that reportedly paid him £4,000 for seeking Fiji to be readmitted to the Commonwealth.
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