David Laws: ‘It was too hard to tell the truth about being gay’
David Laws has indicated he will continue as an MP after losing his Cabinet post over expenses paid to his gay lover.
Earlier today, he was rumoured to be planning to step down as MP for Yeovil but in a statement released this afternoon, he said he would continue if he had the support of his constituents.
The Liberal Democrat resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury at the weekend after the Daily Telegraph revealed he had broken parliamentary rules on claiming rent on a room in his partner’s home.
Mr Laws said he had no intention to exploit the expenses system and claimed his problems were caused by his desire to keep his sexual orientation secret.
He said that he realised he was gay at time when most people believed it to be wrong and had struggled to tell the truth as time passed.
The statement said: “I have paid a high price for trying to keep my sexuality a secret. Losing your privacy, your Cabinet job and your perceived integrity within 48 hours isn’t very easy.
“But I accept that I should have been more open and should have set a better example as a public figure. I will now need to take a few days to recover from the events of the last week and I then intend to get back to my work as local MP.
“There are many people with far greater problems than I have and they are entitled to expect me to get on with the job which I am paid to do.
“I love my job as local MP, and it is the greatest job and responsibility which I will ever have. Over the weeks ahead, I will want to understand whether I still have the confidence of my constituents, without which it would be difficult to continue my work.”
Mr Laws said he was grateful for the kindness of “thousands of people” over the past few days.
“It has been a very emotional experience to find so many people willing to stand by me at this difficult time,” he said.
“My problems have been caused by my unwillingness to be open about my sexuality and not by any intention to exploit the MPs’ expenses system.
“James Lundie and I were aware that we could have been far better off financially if I had been willing to be open about our relationship – but I was not.
“I grew up at a time when homosexuality had only just been legalised and when most people still thought it was wrong or shameful.
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“I decided, therefore, to keep my sexuality secret, and the further time went on the more difficult it seemed to be to tell the truth.
“When the rules changed in 2006 to prevent MPs from renting from partners, I should probably have changed our arrangements.
“I could have done so without any financial cost, but getting a mortgage and buying a house together would have meant revealing our relationship – which I was not prepared to do.”
In his first interview since the story broke, Mr Laws told the Western Daily Press today: “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.”
Mr Laws has referred himself to the Commons expenses watchdog which will now investigate the rent payments and other claims he has made.