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Expenses scandal hurts main UK parties

AN expenses scandal is eroding support for Britain's three main political parties, a poll showed yesterday.

The Sun newspaper said a general election due by the middle of next year should be held immediately after days of disclosures about politicians' questionable expenses brought British politics into disrepute.

"Voters have had enough of this government, enough of greedy MPs," it said in an editorial headlined "Give Britain an election ... now."

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is certain to resist calls for an election, with his ruling Labour Party trailing the Conservatives in polls and the economy in its worst recession since World War II.

The Conservatives had a 16 percent lead over Labour in an opinion poll published in the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

European and local government elections are due on June 4 and a poor showing for Labour would reopen speculation about whether Brown should lead the party into a general election next year.

Meanwhile, a Conservative politician has prepared a motion of no confidence in Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, over his handling of the crisis.

The Speaker is the house's highest authority and must have support across the political spectrum. Martin, a member of the Labour party, has been criticized for opposing transparency on expenses.

The Daily Telegraph has a disc containing details of MPs' expenses and has been publishing reports of claims for moat cleaning, an adult film and dog food, as well as for non-existent mortgages.

Labour has suspended two MPs and one of its junior ministers has stepped down pending an investigation.


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