David Davis ‘to resign as an MP’

June 12, 2008 at 11:51 am | Posted in British Politics | Leave a comment
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Well, this is certainly a shock:

Shadow home secretary David Davis is set to resign as an MP, the BBC understands. It is thought he wants to trigger a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden seat. Mr Davis has been a passionate opponent of plans to extend the terror detention limit to 42 days. It is thought he has privately threatened to resign if the Tories wavered on the issue. He will make a statement shortly.

Developing

Update: Apparently he’s going to contest the by-election and make 42 day detention the centrepiece of the campaign:

Conservative sources have told BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson Mr Davis told Mr Cameron of his decision on Wednesday evening. His by-election campaign would be “personal and not backed by the full resources of the Conservative Party”, the source added. Sources say Mr Davis wants to fight a by-election on the 42-day issue.

Update #2 (13:55): The BBC story is now updated with video

In his resignation statement, Mr Davis attacked the growth of the “database state” and government “snooping”.

“This cannot go on. It must be stopped and for that reason today I feel it is incumbent on me to make a stand,” he told reporters.

“At least my electorate and the nation as a whole will have had the opportunity to debate and consider one of the most fundamental issues of our day – the ever intrusive power of the state into our lives, the loss of privacy, the loss of freedom and the steady attrition undermining the rule of law,” he said.

The key questions should be as follows:

  1. Will it be seen as a political stunt or as a courageous stand?
  2. Will he be able to justify the expense of public money that’ll be needed to stage this premature by-election?
  3. Should by-elections be launched on the whim of one politician, campaigning on a single issue? For example, if this were a referendum I’d certainly vote for his position over that of the Labour government. But it’s not a referendum, and on so many other issues, I’d rather have a Labour/Lib Dem MP than David Davis.
  4. Will he win?

The answer to the last question is ‘probably’: Davis had a 5,116 majority over his Lib Dem challenger in 2005. Since Nick Clegg has already committed not to stand a candidate against him and Labour turnout will be depressed, this will be a walkover, whether the public are in favour of 42 days or not.

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