Huhne's career speeds to an end

Energy minister Chris Huhne has resigned today. Will the last Lib Dem in the Cabinet please turn out the lights.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Huhne has thrown in the towel after being charged with perverting the course of justice over the now-infamous speeding points scandal. The move will prompt the second Cabinet reshuffle in three months as the Yellows attempt to maintain their foothold in the Coalition. Only four Lib Dem members are left in the Cabinet. But who will replace Huhne? Looks like Cameron is running out of likely Lib Dem candidates…

The most popular choice seems to be Ed Davey, currently business minister, although Jeremy Browne and Sarah Teather also have their supporters. It could also be the chance Clegg has been waiting for to get expenses-row casualty David Laws back into the tent.

Huhne is stepping down in order to concentrate on his defence as he prepares to go into battle with ex-wife Vicky Pryce over the alleged point-swapping. ‘To avoid any distraction... I will be standing down and resigning as energy and climate change secretary,’ he said.

This has effectively put the kibosh Huhne’s future political ambitious – a hard pill to swallow for the man who once challenged Nick Clegg for leadership of the party. Or has it? Huhne is still maintaining his innocence: ‘The decision by the director of public prosecutions today is deeply regrettable,’ is his aggrieved response to today’s ruling. Perhaps he’s planning a spell out of the public eye and then a political rebirth once the story has become last month’s fish wrapping? He did, after all, welcome the investigation in the first place, claiming it would ‘draw a line’ under the allegations.

So did he force Pryce to stick those speeding points on her licence? It's up to the courts to decide whether the allegations are true or not. And, of course, it's not only Huhne who’s facing charges. Wife-turned-nemesis Pryce has been slapped with a charge for perverting the course of justice too. The maximum jail term: two years.

The loss of Huhne from the Cabinet is a bad blow for the Lib Dems. The Coalition government is now looking increasingly lopsided – especially in terms of age and experience.

UPDATE: Huhne will be replaced at the Department for Energy and Climate Change by Ed Davey, the business minister.

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