James Forsyth

Brown can’t get an agreement on expenses

Brown can't get an agreement on expenses
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Besides the Budget, there’s been another important political development today: the failure of Brown to achieve a consensus among the party leaders on reform of MPs’ expenses. This is hardly surprising since Brown issued his proposals yesterday without consulting Cameron or Clegg.

All parties have tended to be cautious about making too much politically out of the various expenses scandal. Sadly no party is confident that all its MPs are clean. Tory supporters should remember that if David Davis had won the leadership, Derek Conway would almost certainly have been chief whip when his abuses became public. But Cameron comments after the meeting (courtesy of the BBC) were surprisingly punchy. "No more furniture, no more redecoration, no more bathplugs and certainly no pornography - that's what people want, a cleaned up system," Mr Cameron said after the meeting. "In the end the prime minister is saying let's have a system that is about giving you cash with no receipts and no transparency - that can't be right." Nick Clegg is also promising to put his own more radical proposals before the House.

From what Ben Brogan is reporting, the expenses row could soon be about to get a lot worse for Labour:

“Nick Brown has told the PM to expect a number of by-elections, or worse, when receipts are published in July.”

I expect there will turn out to be sinners in all parties. But I suspect that the Labour ones will be more high-profile than their opposition counterparts. Another eruption of sleaze is the last thing Brown needs. 


Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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