Expert Comment: Chris Huhne ResignsWednesday 25 April 2012
Prof. Bill Jones, Adjunct Professor of Politics at Liverpool Hope University
The Coalition government must be bruised by another misfortune: the forced resignation of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne; he is the second Lib Dem to fall by the wayside after David Laws departed over an expenses issue back in May 2010. Cameron won’t be altogether dismayed however: Huhne had a record of being aggressive in Cabinet, confronting the PM on issues close to Lib Dem hearts. Clegg too might have not been overwhelmed with despair as the overtly ambitious Huhne - he has twice contested the leadership and lost to Clegg by only a whisker and has long made it clear he is just waiting to take over, should the present party leader falter.
The provenance of the resignation is bizarre. Huhne left his wife in the summer of 2010 after admitting being in a relationship with 45 year old Carina Trimingham, a professional PR expert whom he had met through work. Jacky Pryce, to whom he had been married for 27 years and with whom he has three children, is a high flying economist, who did not kindly to such treatment and in May 2011 accused him of using her to take the rap for a speeding offence so that he could avoid disqualification. Ms Trimingham attracted some opprobrium back in November of last year by claiming in her CV that she had contacts in government up to ‘Cabinet level’.
Huhne roundly rejected the accusation but police investigations ensued and today the CPS announced it had decided to proceed with a prosecution. Both Cameron and Clegg had agreed, a little too easily thought some, that if charged Huhne should resign to fight the charge. He is confident he will clear his name but when I have seen him rejecting the charge, I never felt he really believed he was in fact innocent. I wonder if a jury will agree with me. His wife has already admitted he ‘drives like a maniac’.