Grant Shapps in Pledge to Improve North-East Rail Network

Grant Shapps has visited the north-east of England to examine progress being made at the new Horden Peterlee railway station. He also pledged more money for the region’s rail network and pledged to examine reopening lines closed following the Beeching report.

Shapps said in a statement:

“2020 will be a year of action on the railways with the north sitting at the heart of the improvements.

Investing in new stations like Horden Peterlee will deliver more modern, reliable services for passengers. We are also ambitious to restore connections to communities who have lost out, and the Northumberland line has huge potential to deliver that.

Our focus is levelling up infrastructure across the country, ensuring passengers see the benefit of new trains, new stations and fairer fares.”

Serious Financial Allegations Made About Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has refused to comment on serious financial allegations which have been made against him by the Sunday Times with regards to Jennifer Arcuri. Arcuri was given public funds when Johnson was the Mayor of London in what is potentially a conflict of interest.

Jon Trickett, the Labour MP for Hemsworth and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said in a statement:

“With Boris Johnson refusing to answer questions about these allegations of serious conflicts of interest, abuse of power and misuse of public funds, the Cabinet Secretary should launch an investigation.

Despite what his life of privilege has led him to believe, Johnson is not above the law and cannot duck and dodge responsibility. This is a matter of the integrity of the Prime Minister, who appears to think he can get away with anything”.

When asked by journalists today about the situation, the Prime Minister refused to comment.

Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, rejected the criticisms, saying on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“British companies and entrepreneurs go on trade missions. It’s quite right and proper and I’m sure that’s exactly what’s happened there”.

Sadiq Khan, the current Mayor of London, has said that he will be looking into the allegations and will comment shortly.

Government and CAA Launch Repatriation Scheme as Thomas Cook Collapses

The Government and the CAA have jointly launched a repatriation scheme to get tens of thousands of British holiday makers home, following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, said in a statement:

“Thomas Cook’s collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers. The government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people. Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world – some from as far away as Malaysia – and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports.

But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So, there are bound to be problems and delays. Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well.”

Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said in a statement:

“This will be a hugely worrying time for employees of Thomas Cook, as well as their customers. Government will do all it can to support them. I will be setting up a cross-government taskforce to monitor local impacts, will write to insurance companies to ask them to process claims quickly, and stand ready to provide assistance and advice.

I will also be writing to the Insolvency Service to ask them to prioritise and fast-track their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation.”

Rebecca Long Bailey, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said in a statement:

“Thanks to the government’s failure to act, staff employed by Thomas Cook may face redundancy while holiday makers risk being left stranded overseas. The government must stop its recklessness and step in to avert this crisis by taking an equity stake.”

Government May Scrap HS2 Project

The Government has said that it may scrap HS2 despite over £7 billion having already been spent on the new high-speed rail line. Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, said that the project would be reviewed and a decision made on whether it would continue.

Shapps said in an interview:

“We are launching the review as we genuinely want to know what it would cost to complete this project. Then we will know and we will be in a much better position to make the decision to go or no go by the end of the year.”

Lord Adonis, the former Transport Secretary, who has called for increased spending on the rail infrastructure, posted on Twitter:

“HS2 review is about as stupid as you can get & screws Birmingham & the North. Classic Johnson. It throws project into flux & will cause big delays, loss of confidence & cost increases. But HS2 will almost certainly continue afterwards in modified form. What a shambles.

Membership of the review is about evenly divided between supporters & opponents of HS2, who will now engage in a massive bun fight while the Transport Department runs for cover & HS2 Ltd is paralysed by indecision.

Designing an infrastructure project by committee is always bad, but redesigning by committee of contrarians is reckless & irresponsible. This is Cummings-style Maoist mayhem to appease a handful of Tory backbenchers.

So much for Johnson’s commitment to infrastructure and the North! The first thing he does is to delay and possibly undermine the first strategic investment in the north in decades.”

Grant Shapps Claims 30 Tory MPs Back Theresa May’s Resignation

Grant Shapps, the former Conservative Party chairman, has said that some former Conservative cabinet ministers believe that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, should stand down. May’s position has been weakened since the General Election and speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Shapps said that the party should “stop burying its head in the sand”.

Shapps indicated that there were thirty MPs who would support Theresa May standing down, but he admitted that there were no current Cabinet Ministers calling for her resignation. The move comes days after a difficult Conservative Party conference speech where the Prime Minister struggled with a cold and a problematic stage backdrop.

Government May Lose in Plan to Extend Sunday Trading


The Government may lose a Commons battle to allow councils to extend Sunday opening hours after the SNP have said they will oppose the plans.

The planned legislation would have allowed councils to extend Sunday trading hours by up to six hours. The SNP had previously said that they would abstain as the legislation only affected England and Wales but the party now says that it will oppose the proposed changes.

Grant Shapps, the former Conservative Party Chairman, called the SNP’s decision “the most bizarre position I’ve ever heard”. As there are an estimated twenty Conservative MPs opposing the extended hours in the proposed form the Government may now face defeat.

A report chaired by Grant Shapps recommends BT Openreach sell-off


A report backed by 121 backbench MPs from across the political parties, and chaired by Grant Shapps, has recommended that BT should be forced to sell-off their Openreach service.

The report was led by Grant Shapps, the former Conservative Party Chairman, as part of the British Infrastructure Group which aims to promote infrastructure development in the UK. The report concluded:

“We deserve better. We should be leading the world on digital
investment and innovation. Instead we have a company that clings to outdated copper technology with no long term plan for the future.
We need to start converting to a fully fibre network so we are not left behind the other nations rushing to embrace digital advancement. But we will only achieve this by taking action to open up the sector and formally separate BT and Openreach. The benefits this will bring are potentially enormous”.

BT responded by saying that the report was “misleading and ill-judged”.

Grant Shapps Resigns Over Mark Clarke Scandal


Grant Shapps, the Minister of State for International Development, has resigned over allegations of bullying whilst he was the Conservative Party Chairman. The allegations are currently centred around the behaviour of Mark Clarke and that Shapps failed to take action.

Mark Clarke has been accused of bullying others in the party and was named by Elliott Johnson in a suicide note of being responsible. Clarke works for Unilever who have refused to comment regarding the allegations which have been made against him.

In a statement issued today by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, he referred to the death of Johnson saying:

“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”.

Leaked letter suggests Grant Shapps was aware of behaviour of Mark Clarke


A leaked letter obtained by the Guardian has suggested that Grant Shapps, the then Conservative Party Chairman, was aware of allegations of bullying conducted by Mark Clarke. Clarke was expelled from the Conservative Party last week after serious allegations were made against him.

Shapps, now an International Development Minister, has said that he hardly knew Mark Clarke. However, the Daily Mail found photos which showed the two together at events on numerous occasions.

Friends of Shapps were reported to have said that he was unaware of any bullying allegations. However a letter was written by Baroness Warsi, a former Conservative Party Chair, where she wrote:

“I look forward to hearing from you as to what action you intend to take against Mr. Clarke”.

The allegations made about Mark Clarke are so serious that they were passed onto the police last week. It also follows reports that Elliott Johnson, a young Tory activist, named Clarke in a suicide letter which was found after he killed himself.

The Conservative Party said in a statement last week:

“In the light of information that has come to our knowledge this week, Mark Clarke’s membership of the Conservative Party has been cancelled for life.  This means he cannot be a candidate or represent the Party in any way.

Mark Clarke’s Party membership was suspended in September 2015, following allegations of bullying and inappropriate behaviour.

The Party does not tolerate bullying or any other improper behaviour.  Lord Feldman acted immediately to set up an internal disciplinary inquiry as soon as he received the allegations in August 2015, of which he was previously wholly unaware.

Furthermore the Party’s lawyers and the Party Board’s disciplinary committee will continue to investigate complaints received in relations to Roadtrip2015.  Also, it is confirmed that Roadtrip is no longer authorised as a campaigning entity for the Conservative Party.

Going forward, we will ensure that all groups affiliated to the Conservative Party formally adopt the harassment and anti-bullying policy of CCHQ, as contained in the staff handbook.

The Party will continue to make available on an ongoing basis to all Party members and activists the counselling service provided by Westfield Health”.

Government says that situation in South Sudan is worsening


Grant Shapps, the Minister of State for International Development, has said that the situation in South Sudan is worsening with the famine affecting more people.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but has faced a civil war since then. Famines have been a serious issue for the country over recent years and there are continued healthcare difficulties.

In a statement Shapps said:

“It is clear there is an urgent and deepening crisis in South Sudan.

More people than ever before are facing severe and catastrophic food shortages and without additional relief the world’s newest country faces a very real risk of famine.

Britain’s aid will save many lives and help stabilise one of the world’s most fragile countries, helping them cope better with future shocks like droughts and food shortages.

South Sudan can only build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous future when its peace agreement is implemented in full and aid agencies are given the unrestricted access they need to do their jobs”.