UK House speaker to quit

LONDON: The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons will reportedly quit on Tuesday in the first such resignation for over 300 years as MPs reel from an expenses scandal behind their worst political crisis for decades.

Michael Martin will make an announcement on his future at 2:30pm (1330 GMT) when business in the House of Commons starts for the day, the BBC and other media reported.

The news came amid intense criticism of Martin for failing to lead reforms which could have headed off the scandal over lawmakers expenses, which has caused fury in recession-hit Britain and dominated headlines for days.

A total of 23 MPs from all the main political parties had signed a vote of no confidence in Martin.

And commentators said he was doomed following a nervous, bad-tempered session in the lower House of Commons on Monday when he made a statement on the row — but still faced repeated calls from lawmakers to quit.

A spokeswoman for Martin said: “I can confirm that the speaker is making a statement this afternoon and that it is about himself.” Martin — a former sheet metal worker and trade unionist from Glasgow, Scotland who is also Labour MP for Glasgow North East — looks set to become the first speaker to be ousted since 1695.

It is not clear exactly when he will leave his job. Some lawmakers want him to go immediately while others say he should step down after the next year’s general election.