Michael Fabricant poses with the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate during the Eastleigh by-election in 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Michael Fabricant sacked as Tory vice chairman

Outspoken Tory dismissed for opposing HS2 and tweeting "about time" in response to Maria Miller's resignation.

In a fitting end to today's omnishambles, Michael Fabricant has just announced that he's been sacked as Conservative vice chairman. The always outspoken MP for Lichfield was dismissed for vowing to rebel against HS2 and for tweeting "about time" in response to Maria Miller's resignation. 

Here's how he announced the news on Twitter.

Earlier today, he wrote: "Maria Miller has resigned. Well, about time." He later added:  "Note to self: If ever a minister again, be like Mark Harper. If in trouble, resign quickly and in a dignified manner."

Rather than his fairly innocuous comments on Miller (although "about time" does suggest that Cameron was too slow to act), I suspect that his opposition to HS2 was the main reason No. 10 decided he had to go. With a significant number of Conservative backbenchers opposed to the project, Cameron couldn't afford to show any hint of weakness. Allowing Fabricant to rebel against HS2 and remain in his post would have been an incitement for others to do the same.

Fabricant, meanwhile, is deriding his sacking as a "knee-jerk decision". 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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David Cameron softens stance: UK to accept "thousands" more Syrian refugees

Days after saying "taking more and more" refugees isn't the solution, the Prime Minister announces that Britain will accept "thousands" more Syrian refugees.

David Cameron has announced that the UK will house "thousands" more Syrian refugees, in response to Europe's worsening refugee crisis.

He said:

"We have already accepted around 5,000 Syrians and we have introduced a specific resettlement scheme, alongside those we already have, to help those Syrian refugees particularly at risk.

"As I said earlier this week, we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review.

"And given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of the people, today I can announce that we will do more - providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees."

Days after reiterating the government's stance that "taking more and more" refugees won't help the situation, the Prime Minister appears to have softened his stance.

His latest assertion that Britain will act with "our head and our heart" by allowing more refugees into the country comes after photos of a drowned Syrian toddler intensified calls for the UK to show more compassion towards the record number of people desperately trying to reach Europe. In reaction to the photos, he commented that, "as a father I felt deeply moved".

But as the BBC's James Landale points out, this move doesn't represent a fundamental change in Cameron's position. While public and political pressure has forced the PM's hand to fulfil a moral obligation, he still doesn't believe opening the borders into Europe, or establishing quotas, would help. He also hasn't set a specific target for the number of refugees Britain will receive.

 

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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