David Laws, the Liberal Democrat who resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury last week, is said to be considering his position as an MP.
He was forced to resign after it was revealed he had paid almost £40,000 in expenses to his secret boyfriend. It is against Commons rules to use expenses to pay rent to a partner.
Liberal Democrat colleagues are reportedly trying to persuade him not to quit as MP for Yeovil in light of the revelations, which blew open his hitherto closely-guarded personal life.
Mr Laws is said to be “deeply depressed” he has been outed, having kept his nine-year relationship with James Lundie secret.
In his first interview since the story broke, he told the Western Daily Press: “The job as an MP is no less important to me than being in the Cabinet. I am sad that I have let down all these people in my constituency, particularly after being given such a huge mandate from them.
“I want to take time to sort these issues out. I will be listening to the people in my constituency to see what they think.”
He added he would not stay on as an MP if his constituents rejected him.
“I need to make a judgment about what is right for the Yeovil constituency,” he said.
“I also have to explain myself to people. It is a huge honour to represent tens of thousands of people and I am incredibly sad at having let down those people. I wouldn’t want to do this job if I didn’t have the support of the people.”
The Liberal Democrats are thought to be desperate to avoid triggering a by-election in Yeovil, which could hand another seat to the Tories.
Mr Laws added that he felt “a bit ashamed” not to have set a better example and found it “very, very difficult” to lose the Treasury job.
Cathy Bakewell, chairwoman of the Lib Dems in Yeovil, said yesterday: “His mood is one of deep depression.
“He is hurting and he needs to find a way forward.
“He has been an absolutely brilliant constituency MP and everybody wishes that he would continue.’’
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said on Sunday he believed Mr Laws would return to the Cabinet in future.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I have no questions at all that he has the talent to be back… I’ve been in the spotlight myself, as you know, so I wish him the very best and hope the media leaves him alone a bit now.”