George Osborne and Ed Balls attend the State Opening of Parliament on May 8, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Tories promote MP who ordered Osborne to apologise to Balls

New Economic Secretary Andrea Leadsom said during the 2012 Libor row: "Obviously he made a mistake and I think he should apologise to him."

Andrea Leadsom's appointment as Economic Secretary to the Treasury marks her return from political Siberia. The MP for South Northamptonshire, one of the most highly-rated of the 2010 intake, has been shunned ever since she called on George Osborne to apologise to Ed Balls for falsely accusing him of involvement in the Libor-fixing scandal. She was overlooked for promotion in last year's ministerial reshuffle and failed to make the banking inquiry panel, despite her experience at Barclays, where she was financial institutions director from 1993 to 1997.

In July 2012, at the height of the furious struggle between Osborne and Balls over Libor, she said:

Obviously he made a mistake and I think he should apologise to him.

I think it was a very valid discussion at the time about who knew what and it has now been completely squashed by Paul Tucker.

In inviting Leadsom to join his Treasury team, Osborne has shown his magnanimous side. But don't expect Balls to get that apology.

Update: It's also worth recalling the story that Leadsom told Osborne to "fuck off" when he urged her to vote against an in/out EU referendum in 2011 (yes, a lot has changed since then). When asked about the report, she replied: "We had a very polite conversation. We agreed to differ. I wouldn't speak to any colleague in the way I was reported as speaking to him."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.