Laws close to a return from expenses exile

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By Western Daily Press | Friday, February 03, 2012, 08:00

David Laws should return to the Government in a job close to the centre of power, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said last night.

He signalled it was time for the Yeovil Liberal Democrat MP to rejoin the ministerial ranks after 20 months on the backbenches.

Mr Laws was Chief Treasury Secretary in the coalition Government after the General Election in May 2010, but was forced to quit over his expenses.

Mr Clegg was talking in an interview conducted before it emerged Energy Secretary Chris Huhne will learn this morning whether he will face criminal charges.

There have been allegations his ex-wife accepted speeding penalty points on his behalf, and if he is prosecuted he may have to resign.

Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg was asked if he might bring Mr Laws back in a reshuffle, outside Cabinet rank if needed.

He replied: "I'm not wildly hierarchical and David certainly isn't. It's one of the many things which I like so much about David, he's a sort of an unusual combination of being a politician but actually quite a modest character, which you don't find very often in politics. David is not after status. What I would like to see David do is to be close to the centre of power in one shape or form, with ideally quite a broad view of government policy because I think he's got an ability to see the connections between policies, which is quite unusual."

His comments suggest he has in mind a backroom role, away from the public spotlight, in the Cabinet Office.

He would be working with his near neighbour, Tory West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin, who is in charge of policy and strategy – a job the Western Daily Press tipped Mr Laws for last summer.

Mr Laws is seen as someone who can ease the tension between the two coalition partners on issues ranging from reform of the banks and immigration to the Eurozone crisis. Prime Minister David Cameron also rates Mr Laws highly, and said when he resigned that he hoped he would be able to return to government.



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