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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Sacked Hilary Benn rules out standing for leadership but tells others "do the right thing"

Hilary Benn was sacked from Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet overnight.

Hours after being sacked from Labour's Shadow Cabinet, Hilary Benn popped up again to issue a not-so-coded call for revolution. 

Despite being tipped as a potential rival to Jeremy Corbyn in the past, Benn downplayed his own ambitions and ruled himself out of standing for leader.

But while he described his decision to speak out as a personal one, he made it clear others who felt similarly should speak out.

Benn told Andrew Marr: "I have been a member of the lab party for 45 years. I've devoted my personal and political life to it, and if things are not working I think we have a wider responsiboility to the party that we love to speak out.

"Lots of people will say this isn't an ideal time. There's never an ideal time. I thought it was important to speak out."

Describing Corbyn as a "good and decent man", Benn said he was not a leader and agreed he should consider resigning: "I no longer have confidence in him and I think the right thing to do would be for him to take that decision."

He added: "I am not going to be a candidate for the leader of the Labour party. I haven't taken this decision because I want to. I have taken the decision becauuse I think it's the right thing to do for the Labour party."

As Benn was speaking, rumours of a Shadow Cabinet revolt was mounting, with Labour's last Scottish MP Ian Murray among those expected to resign.

But while there's no doubt Benn has the support of many of his fellow MPs, more than 169,000 ordinary members of the public have signed a petition urging support for Corbyn after Brexit. If there is a parliamentary coup, it's going to be bloody.