CITY MP Mike Hancock has declared he is going back to work – but questions remain over whether he will stand at the next General Election.
The Portsmouth South MP is returning to parliament in the next few weeks after spending most of the year on the sidelines being treated for ill health.
Mr Hancock has also been dogged by scandal, having admitted in June to forming an ‘inappropriate friendship’ with a female constituent who had approached him for help.
He has told a local radio station he is preparing to get on with his job, but admitted he cannot confirm if he will defend his seat in May, as that would depend on his health.
Mr Hancock, who is an independent MP after being suspended from the Lib Dems over his conduct earlier this year, said he had ‘nothing to say’ about the party’s new candidate for his position, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
The two were allies until Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he had been wrong to defend Mr Hancock over his behaviour, as he had believed his assurances that he was innocent.
‘I have nothing to say about Gerald Vernon-Jackson,’ Mr Hancock said.
‘When I do say it, I will say it publicly at the appropriate time.’
If Mr Hancock stands and loses, he will be entitled to a one-off payment equivalent to six months’ salary – £33,530 – which does not take into account his pension.
Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council, said Mr Hancock’s indecision over standing again suggests he is ‘at war’ with his former colleagues.
‘It’s absolutely extraordinary for an MP that has been elected to represent a party for 20 years is considering going up against that party as an independent,’ he said.
‘He really needs to make a decision as to whether he is going to stand or not.
‘If he is not prepared to rule it out then clearly he is at war with his former colleagues.’
Mr Hancock last voted in parliament on June 18 – the same day his confession was released through a statement approved by the High Court.
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the council, said: ‘Parliament needs to review the rules around MPs that are sick for a long time for whatever reason, as it’s quite clear he has been unable to carry out the duties he was elected to do.’
Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said: ‘The best service he can now do for the city is stand down and resign.’