By Peter Hoskin
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12.05 update: Here's Patrick Mercer's statement:
“Panorama are planning to broadcast a programme alleging that I have broken Parliamentary rules. I am taking legal advice about these allegations, and I have referred myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
In the meantime, to save my Party embarrassment, I have resigned the Conservative Whip and have so informed Sir George Young. I have also decided not to stand at the next General Election.”
And Downing Street’s response:
“The PM is aware. He thinks Patrick Mercer has done the right thing in referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and resigning the whip. It’s important that the due processes take their course.”
11.50 update: The Telegraph reveals its hand:
“This newspaper has been investigating the former shadow minister over a major lobbying scandal and is poised to publish a series of revelations about Mr Mercer tomorrow.
He was yesterday asked questions over his activities and was expected to be suspended from the Parliamentary Conservative party this evening.
However, the Conservative MP for Newark is thought to have resigned the whip and is poised to make a statement.”
1145: According to the Times, Patrick Mercer – MP for Newark – is set to resign the Tory whip at noon. He tells the paper that he’ll stand down from Parliament at the next election, and that he “did not plan” to join UKIP in the meantime. As it happens, when one of his constituents moved to UKIP in March, Mr Mercer told the local paper that, “I would say to Newark UKIP you are misguided and have a workable home inside the Conservative Party.”
As for why Mr Mercer doesn't feel he has a workable home inside the Conservative Party any more, there is no solid word. Although it’s worth noting that he’s never quite got on with David Cameron and his leadership. For instance, he was asked where Mr Cameron had gone wrong by a newspaper a couple of years ago. And his alleged response? “Well, he was born”.
We’ll bring you more as we have it.