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Purge of MPs likely, says UK opposition leader

A MAJOR purge of veteran lawmakers is likely at Britain's next national election due to mounting public anger over the expenses scandal, opposition leader David Cameron said yesterday as a new study estimated that more than 300 lawmakers could be forced out.

Cameron, who has ordered some Conservative Party lawmakers to quit over their claims, said fresh faces are necessary to help rebuild confidence in the political system.

The Conservatives are far ahead of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party in opinion polls and widely expected to win power at the next election, which Brown must call by June 2010.

Cameron said he will reopen lists of candidates that his party has drawn up ahead of the next election, to allow people who have not previously been involved in politics to put themselves forward.

"They may not have had anything to do with the party before. But I'm saying, if you believe in public service, if you share our values, if you want to help us clean up politics, come and be a Conservative candidate," Cameron told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Colin Rallings, director of the University of Plymouth's elections data center, told The Sunday Times newspaper that a new analysis suggested as many as 325 of Britain's 646 House of Commons lawmakers could quit or be ousted by voters as a direct result of the scandal.

Several figures, including well-known British television presenter Esther Rantzen, already have suggested they will try to run in the next election as independent candidates.

In Britain, local party officials select candidates, often choosing would-be lawmakers who have no connection with the district they are seeking to represent. Some lawmakers have called for a US-style open primaries instead to select candidates.

The Daily Telegraph also reported yesterday that about 200 lawmakers employ family members as staff, allowing them to charge routine household expenses to taxpayers.

Lawmakers have faced a backlash, with voters especially incensed that public funds were squandered amid a deep recession that has sent the unemployment rate soaring.


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