David Davis quits as MP to force 42 days by-election

The BBC says:

Shadow home secretary David Davis is set to resign as an MP, the BBC understands.

It is thought he wants to trigger a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden seat.

Mr Davis has been a passionate opponent of plans to extend the terror detention limit to 42 days.

It is thought he has privately threatened to resign if the Tories wavered on the issue. He will make a statement shortly.

UPDATE: Iain Dale reports he will be fighting a by-election on the 42 days issue.

UPDATE 13.02: The Guardian reports he will be standing as an independent… curiouser and curiouser.

UPDATE 13.11: statement from Nick Clegg:

David Davis’s decision to resign his seat and fight a by-election over the issue of 42 days is a dramatic move. I am grateful to him for having informed me following the vote of his intention to take this step.

“The Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed this unnecessary and illiberal proposal which poses a threat so serious to British liberties that it transcends party politics.

“I have therefore decided, after consultation with the Party nationally and locally, that we will not stand a candidate at the forthcoming by-election which will be contested by David Davis solely on this issue.

“The Liberal Democrats will of course fight the Haltemprice and Howden seat as vigorously as ever at the next General Election.”

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This entry was posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Lib Dem gain?

  • Liam Pennington 12th Jun '08 - 1:02pm

    Nick Robinson – “Lib Dems not to stand against David Davis”

  • Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you?

    Did she die in vain?

  • Liam Pennington 12th Jun '08 - 1:08pm

    Nick Robinson reported as an aside that Davis talked to Nick Clegg about this, with the massive hint that the LibDems won’t stand against him at htis most bizarre byelection I have ever heard!

  • Interesting. Nick Robinson is now saying the Lib Dem leadership hopes the local party will not put up a candidate.

  • Does Tony Hancock mean nothing to you?

  • Is David Davis going to defect to Lib Dems, or why wouldn’t Lib Dems stand against him?

  • Liam Pennington 12th Jun '08 - 1:16pm

    I’m not holding my breath for all LibDem MPs to stand down en masse a la the Northern Ireland byelections of 1986 🙂

  • If we don’t field a candidate I will…. fill in the blanks. My flabber has been well and truly ghasted!

  • I fully support Nick’s decision, provided that DD fights purely on the 42 days’ issue. It’s an astoundingly brave and very principled stand to take.

  • An opportunity for the Green Party. What do we do if they win?

  • Liam Pennington 12th Jun '08 - 1:26pm

    If the LibDems don’t stand, could it be – as Harry Hayfield has suggested to me – a Ind vs Ind vs Labour fight? Is is true that DD is not going to fight as a Conservative?

  • I live in Haltemprice & Howden. David Davis is no libertarian so we have to stand against him. I’ll put up defo.

  • Grammar Police 12th Jun '08 - 1:34pm

    On the 42 days point I agree, but it seems wrong not to field a candidate in a seat we can win. David Davis is hardly a “liberal” Conservative . . .

  • James Blanchard 12th Jun '08 - 1:40pm

    We’re not standing? Why don’t we just hand the civil liberties agenda over to the Tories and Davis? Not to mention force all those hard squeezed third-party votes to go back to the third party- Labour- and undo years of hard work that made the seat winnable for us.

    DD may well have seen the light on this particular issue, but we’ve all seen enough of him to know that he is no liberal. By-elections are so important to the national media too, we will effectively gag ourselves by not standing. We simply must run a candidate and strong campaign.

  • If we do not field a candidate against David Davis then I shall be resigning from the Party.

    I am sure that many others will do likewise.

  • It is important that the public doesn’t associate the defence of our civil liberties soley with the Conservatives, so will a LibDem take a similar principled stand and seek agreement from Cameron on a quid pro quo basis not to oppose their reelection at the subsequent by-election?

  • Liam Pennington 12th Jun '08 - 1:47pm

    If we do stand, though, won’t we just be splitting the civil liberties vote?

  • I am a LibDem voter but not a party member and I imagine I would disagree with probably 90% of David Davis’s views but I respect the man and this if this is genuinely a principled stance, he has moved further up in my estimation. The people posting here sniffing an easy by-election win and ignoring why he is doing this are no fucking better than the NuLab and Tory bastards.

  • Chris Huhne, please show your leadership qualities. Two home affairs spokesmen forcing by-elections on the same grounds will make a huge statement.

  • Here! Here! I’m glad to see someone who agrees with me that 42 days is such an erosion of our hard won civil liberties that we can put aside petty party politics for a moment and focus on what really matters. I’m no fan of David Davies, but his actions here are admirable.

    I’m saddened to see some of my party colleagues thinking only of the party and not of the issues.

  • Wilfred Newman 12th Jun '08 - 1:55pm

    Having heard David Davies’ principled, brave and well-presented statement, I was going to suggest we should not oppose him at the by-election, but I hear Nick Clegg read my mind. Let’s go a step further and throw the weight of our local adherents behind him. he may be the next great liberal Home Secretary, maybe even a Liberal Democrat one!?

  • Painfully Liberal 12th Jun '08 - 2:01pm

    I think if he genuinely avoids gang colours and hand signals we shouldn’t stand against him. To do so would look grasping and unprincipled and at best would end up with our candidate saying “me too, me too” whenever Davis spoke about civil liberties.

    Ultimately though, that’s a choice for the local party who i trust Clegg cleared it with first.

    As to Huhne replicating the action, it’s a nice idea but it would seem a little band wagonny at this stage.

  • Maybe Huhne following suit is predicated upon Cameron agreeing to non-opposition, but it would force the conservative hand to prove that they are serious about standing up for principles over civil liberties rather than just being in it for electoral purposes.

  • “Ultimately though, that’s a choice for the local party who i trust Clegg cleared it with first.”

    Clegg would scarcely have had time to do more than phone the local chairman and tell him he didn’t want Davis opposed.

  • Deep throat 12th Jun '08 - 2:07pm

    What if the BNP were the main opponents to Davis in this by-election, putting the case for 42 days. What would our position be then?

  • Simon Hughes says he consulted H&H local party prior to the announcement.

  • “Simon Hughes says he consulted H&H local party prior to the announcement.”

    Doesn’t say they agreed though. I can’t believe the local party chair would make a decsion on the spot without consulting the local party more widely. Coincidentally it is the local party’s annual dinner this evening which might reveal a bit more.

  • The Clegg line is disappointing.

    We’ve allowed the Conservatives (of all people) to become champions of civil liberties.

    Magna Carta and 42 days shall become the least of our concerns.

  • Cameron says that this was a personal decision by Davis – this is damaging to the tories as it highlights the split between individuals and the party machine.

    Davis cannot now rejoin the shadow cabinet if he is returned to Westminster until Cameron is replaced.

  • David Blake 12th Jun '08 - 2:51pm

    This is a difficult one. If David Davis campaigns purely on the 42 days issue, I could possibly agree with us not fielding a candidate. But Davis himself had broadened it out to include the whole civil liberties issue – and we all know what a poor record the Tories have on that.

  • Mark Senior 12th Jun '08 - 3:12pm

    100% correct decision by Cleggy on not to oppose DD in the byelection . Great potential for medium and long term gain for the party here .

  • “Clegg would scarcely have had time to do more than phone the local chairman and tell him he didn’t want Davis opposed.”

    Hmmm. The BBC is now reporting that Davis has been planning this – and discussing it with his local party – for weeks. So maybe he discussed it with Clegg earlier as well.

  • “100% correct decision by Cleggy on not to oppose DD in the byelection . Great potential for medium and long term gain for the party here .”

    PLease explain this Mark?

    For the benefit of those of us who can’t look past the possibility that we have just let David Davies, and by extension, the Tories, become the public’s champion on civil liberties?

  • gavin grant 12th Jun '08 - 4:20pm

    Davis is no liberal but he’s right on this issue. so we should not oppose him. Of course Labour may chose to do the same thing if they think it makes the by-election a non event or they may calculate that 3 weeks of highlighting that the Tories have gone soft on terrorism may be just what Gordon brown needs! Nick Robinson’s analysis is also interesting that the reawakening of the Cameron v Davis angst is bad news for Dave.

  • Jock, partly, but also because he now recieves the glorious label of ‘loose cannon’ who can no longer command the absolute trust of the leadership and therefore has applied for the Frank Field/Diane Abbott position of spokesman for the backbenches.

  • “The reawakening of the Cameron v Davis angst is bad news for Dave.”

    “Why? Cameron wins that battle hands down every time.”

    Its bad news for Dave because he isn’t trying to win over Tories to be their party leader anymore, he’s trying to win over the public to be their Prime Minister.

    This gives the impression of a split party: and he wont gain from that at all.

    Tories will see that and the fact that DD is a potential electoral asset wearing his ‘man of principle’ hat.

    Surely then in the battle between the two (and the Telegraph and Guardian are already framing it that way) the pendulum has swung considerably towards Davis?

  • Battles aren’t won and don’t provide victors – they are temporarily suspended while the losses are counted. Those with the least amount of losses prevails temporarily.

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