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UK Government in disarray as Commons Speaker resigns | Immigration Matters

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The BBC reports that Michael Martin has told MPs he intends to stand down, the first House of Commons Speaker to be effectively forced out of office for 300 years. 

In a brief statement to a packed House of Commons he said he would step down on 21 June, with his successor set to be elected by MPs the next day. 

Mr Martin, who will also step down as an MP, has faced criticism over his handling of the MP expenses issue. 

The Glasgow North East MP has been an MP for 30 years and Speaker for nine. 

In a statement to MPs on today which lasted less than a minute, Mr Martin said: 

“I have always felt that the House is at its best when it is united. 

“In order to that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish office of Speaker on Sunday 21 June. 

“This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new Speaker on Monday 22 June.” 

He finished by adding “that is all I have to say on this matter” before going on to ask for questions to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. 

Mr Miliband said the House would respect his wishes and pay its tributes at “a later date”. 

But Mr Martin’s critics say he was the driving force behind repeated attempts by Commons authorities to block details of MPs’ expenses from coming out under Freedom of Information legislation. 

Supporters say he has long been the victim of class snobbery and has been made a scapegoat for a scandal perpetrated by MP’s from all the main parties. 

In other events linked to the row over MPs’ second homes expenses, the Metropolitan Police have said they will not investigate how details of claims came to be leaked to the Daily Telegraph. 

The Telegraph has obtained a CD containing over a million documents concerning MP’s expense claims, and has been publishing embarrassing details every day for the past two weeks. 

Among the more outlandish revelations are expense claims for clearing a Moat and interest for a non-existent mortgage on a second home. 

Current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and former Immigration Ministers Liam Byrne and Tony McNulty have all hit the headlines over their expenses or second homes. 

Jacqui Smith is expected to be moved to a lower profile job over her “main residence” row and claims by her husband for pornographic movies. 

Mr Byrne tops the Sunday Times league table of MP’s expenses with claims of £478,536. 

Member of Parliament for Harrow (a suburb of London) Tony McNulty, was lambasted for claiming that his parents house in Hammersmith was his main residence, allowing him to claim expenses and relief against his mortgage on his “second” home in his constituency. 

The anger felt against politicians is unprecedented in recent history. There have been calls for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to a General Election. 

Mr Martin’s resignation is unlikely to change the mood in the country and the scandal could yet bring down the Government. 

Independent MEP candidate for London, Gene Alcantara, commented: 

“It is right that the Speaker finally gave in to demands for him to resign as he played a pivotal role in prolonging and covering up sleaze in Parliament. 

“All we need now is to persuade Gordon Brown to call an early election so that we can rebuild fresh, clean and honest politics in Britain.” 

Thousands of migrants are concerned about the Borders Immigration and Citizenship Bill, currently going through Parliament, and whether an early election would have any effect on the outcome.

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