By Ray Fleming Chris Huhne's resignation as MP for Eastleigh is a loss to British politics; he was an effective minister and a creative policy-maker in his party. His departure may also have a profound effect on the future of British politics in general. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats won Eastleigh by a majority just short of 4'000. From 1958 to 1974 the seat was easily held by the Conservatives who will think it is now recoverable especially since UKIP's announcement yesterday that it will not contest the by-election. Labour can be no more than an interested bystander in Eastleigh.

In prospect, therefore, is a very closely and probably bitterly fought by-election between the two parties which form a British government still struggling to solve problems in many areas -- a preview, perhaps, of the 2015 general election. There is hardly a single item of major policy on which David Cameron and Nick Clegg now agree and there has been a mutual loss of trust over the Liberal Democrat's refusal last week to vote for electoral boundary changes beneficial to the Conservatives.

In a different Westminster climate the Conservatives might have stood aside until the general election but in present circumstances it would be political suicide for Mr Cameron to do so. He needs a big win in Eastleigh., and soon. Might Boris Johnson be the man to give it to him?