Grant Shapps's guide to "bouncing back" from recession

Conservative housing minister mocked for his company's self-help guide.

It hasn't been a good start to the new parliamentary term for Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps, who was revealed by the Guardian to have founded a family company selling software that increases a website's advertising revenue by manipulating search engines. In breach of Google's code of practice, the $497 (£313) software package, TrafficPaymaster, "creates web pages by 'spinning and scraping' content from other sites to attract advertising". Operating under the alias "Michael Green", Shapps claimed customers could "make $20,000 in 20 days guaranteed or your money back".

Shapps transferred his share of the company to his wife, Belinda, in 2008, but the business has continued to publish such titles as Michael Green's How To Bounce Back From Recession, "a beautifully written self-help guide for negotiating your way to better times." As Owen Jones notes, it's "Pure Alan Partridge".


Shapps has been widely tipped to replace Sayeeda Warsi as Conservative chairman in the imminent reshuffle, but after today's debacle it would be surprising if David Cameron wasn't having second thoughts.

Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps founded a company under the alias "Michael Green". Photograph:

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.