Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kennedy Told by Own MP to Have 'Top-to-Toe' Medical Examination; SACKED FRONTBENCHER TELLS LEADER TO CONSIDER FUTURE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kennedy Told by Own MP to Have 'Top-to-Toe' Medical Examination; SACKED FRONTBENCHER TELLS LEADER TO CONSIDER FUTURE

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY

FEARS over Charles Kennedy's health intensified today when a veteran Liberal Democrat MP told him to get a "top-to-toe" medical examination.

Former international development spokeswoman Jenny Tonge urged Mr Kennedy to "end the speculation" surrounding his health and to "decide for himself" whether he could carry on as party leader.

She raised the spectre of Mr Kennedy being "chronically ill" and having to stand down for health reasons.

Her comments came after Mr Kennedy used a keynote speech at the weekend to signal he was fit, despite missing last week's Budget complaining of a " violent stomach bug".

Mr Kennedy sweated his way through the address in Southport at his party's spring conference with his hands visibly shaking during his address.

Some MPs have speculated he has begun to suffer from selfdoubt and stage fright, although his leadership has also been dogged with rumour about his drinking habits. Today Richmond Park MP Ms Tonge, sacked from the Lib-Dem frontbench by Mr Kennedy after claiming she felt sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers, raised the stakes by becoming the first colleague to speak out publicly.

Ms Tonge, a qualified doctor with experience in community health programmes, told ITV News Channel: "What I would say to Charles is to get yourself an absolute top-to-toe health check-up and decide for yourself, are you fit enough to lead the party. …

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