Theresa May 'stands by' expenses probe Tories ahead of snap general election
Theresa May today insisted she “stands by” any Conservative MP who faces a probe over their 2015 election expenses - and assured them they would be free to fight their seats in June.
The Prime Minister flatly rejected a charge that it would be "squalid" to allow Tories who face prosecution to stand in the upcoming snap general election.
It comes as the CPS revealed more than 30 individuals could face charges for expenses fraud for misreporting local spending at the May 2015 election.
The allegations relate to money put towards the Conservative battlebus, which the Tories recorded as national expenditure but may have been part of constituency spending limits.
Today veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner asked the Prime Minister: "Will the Prime Minister give a guarantee that no Tory MP who is under investigation by the police and legal authorities over election expenses in the last general election be a candidate in this election?"
"If she won’t accept that, this is the most squalid election campaign that has happened in my lifetime."
But Mrs May insisted: "I stand by all the Conservative MPs who are in this House and who will be out there standing again campaigning for a Conservative government that will give a brighter and better future for this country."
The exchange happened during a testy session of Prime Minister’s Questions - possibly the last or penultimate before Parliament is suspended ahead of the 8 June vote.
The Prime Minister dropped a political bombshell yesterday when she announced she would go to the polls early in a bid to strengthen her hand ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested the expenses probes could have been a motivation for Mrs May's sudden change of heart over the snap election.
“The timing of the election and the role of the CPS is, of course, extremely interesting in this and it’s interesting the PM did not mention it in her contribution,” he told the Commons today.
According to Channel 4 News, dozens of Tory MPs and their agents could be prosecuted for their 2015 election costs while the new election campaign is fought.
But Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the broadcaster: “We’re not trying to get in the way at all of the proper due process of law, that must go ahead, but we believe that the Conservatives and the MPs in question and the agents have behaved properly.
“If there are any conclusions to the contrary, we will pay the fines, whatever is appropriate.
“But at the moment, what we’ve been focusing on today, is that we want to have this general election and we’re making the case for it.
“The impact on the prosecutions, whether they make them or not from the CPS, is not impacted by this.”