CITY MP Penny Mordaunt says she is feeling the strain as voters turn their back on Mike Hancock because of the scandal surrounding his alleged conduct.
Ms Mordaunt, who represents Portsmouth North, has seen a 15 per cent rise in her workload as Mr Hancock’s constituents in the south of the city seek her support and guidance instead.
And she says more women are visiting her Hilsea office as they refuse to deal with Mr Hancock because he is accused of sexually assaulting a female constituent.
Some residents are confused about whether he is still an MP, as he is in a Priory clinic in Hampshire being treated for depression and recovering from heart problems.
It again raises the question over whether Mr Hancock should stand down before next year’s General Election if he is too unwell to do his duties.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It has been a strain as there has been an increase in our workload. But my team have been great and supportive and been able to come up with the goods.
‘We have had to tell people that we cannot take up general enquiries, but clearly if someone comes to us and is in difficulty, and has a genuine crisis, then I can’t turn those people away.
‘Mike has several issues – there is the matter of ill health and people feel they cannot go to him.’
As previously reported, a High Court hearing over the civil case lodged by Mr Hancock’s alleged victim is no longer happening on Monday while discussions take place over a potential settlement and an apology by the MP. An announcement is expected to be made within days about the future of the civil proceedings.
The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards says that while there are no rules against an MP taking up another member’s enquiries, it is good practice to make them aware of what they are doing.
Ms Mordaunt said she hadn’t been able to do that since Mr Hancock hadn’t been around.
A spokesman for Mr Hancock insists he is still active.
He said: ‘Mike Hancock and his office team have dealt with hundreds of inquiries, problems and issues from constituents over the past few months, including over 100 in person at advice centres, and are continuing to do so.
‘They have also received inquiries from Havant, Gosport, Portsmouth North and Meon Valley constituencies which they have either forwarded on to the relevant MP or given out the relevant MPs’ details.’
Mr Hancock was unavailable for comment.