Council leader Gerald Vernon Jackson wants to be Lib Dem candidate in Portsmouth South in general election

Gerald Vernon Jackson
Gerald Vernon Jackson

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CITY council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson says he wants to be the Liberal Democrats’ Portsmouth South candidate in next year’s general election.

But he insists he won’t be standing against incumbent Mike Hancock, the city’s independent MP.

That brings into doubt the political future of Mr Hancock following the loss of his seat as a councillor for Fratton ward after 43 years in the early hours of yesterday morning.

‘I am definitely thinking about it, yes,’ said Councillor Vernon-Jackson, who also had a local election to forget as the Liberal Democrats lost control of the city council.

Asked whether that meant standing against his friend Mr Hancock, Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘No. You would have to talk to Mike about his plans but I hope that would not happen.

‘The Lib Dems will advertise a vacancy in the summer and I am pretty certain that I will apply.’

Meanwhile, Mr Hancock’s wife Jacqui Hancock has said her husband will continue with his MP duties despite losing his seat as a councillor.

It comes despite the politician’s ailing health and admitting he was too unwell to run his own election campaign.

Mrs Hancock, who herself lost her seat as a councillor for Charles Dickens ward in the local elections, told The News her husband intends to carry on his parliamentary role, saying no-one had ‘thrown him out yet.’

Asked how she felt about the couple losing their seats, she said: ‘People vote for who they want, and that’s it.

‘That’s the way of politics and I haven’t got anything else to say.’

Mr Hancock is also being sued in the High Court over claims he sexually assaulted a female constituent in his capacity as a ward councillor, which he denies.

Allegations were made after the woman went to him for help over noisy neighbours, and the city council has yet to conclude whether the claims amount to a breach in its code of conduct.

Flick Drummond, the Conservative party’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said it may be time for Mr Hancock to consider his position before next year’s general election since he is not serving his constituents.

‘He is obviously not a well man and he hasn’t been campaigning, which is why he lost his seat in Fratton,’ she said. ‘Maybe it’s time that he considers his position as MP as well.

‘He is not a well man and therefore he can’t properly represent the people, at a time when we really need a strong voice in Westminster.

‘What with the dockyard, getting more investment and making sure we get the right sort of investment and education into our city.

‘It’s a really crucial time for Portsmouth.’

Mr Hancock is an independent MP as he gave up the Lib Dem parliamentary party whip because of the claims made about his conduct.

He has also been suspended from the national Lib Dems and the party has yet to announce its parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South when the general election takes place next year.

Mr Hancock’s local spokesman, Cllr Michael Andrewes, said: ‘Mike thanks the people of Fratton for the great honour and privilege of being able to serve them as their councillor, and congratulates the new councillor for Fratton on her election and wishes her well.

‘This election obviously has been fought in difficult circumstances and also one that has also been difficult for all the traditional parties in the city.’