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Grant Shapps: 'The buck should stop with me'

Grant Shapps said the only right course of action was for him to step down. Credit: PA

Grant Shapps said the "buck should stop with me" after allegations of bullying within the Tory youth group while he was Party chairman.

The International Development Minister stepped down after 21-year-old activist Elliott Johnson took his own life.

In his resignation letter, Shapps told the Prime Minister "neither I nor the Party could find any written allegations of bullying, sexual abuse or blackmail made to the Chairman's office.

"Over the past few weeks - as individual allegations have come to light - I have come to the conclusion that the buck should stop with me.

"Given the very serious nature of what has subsequently occurred I cannot help but conclude that the only right course of action is for me to step down as Minister in your government."


Grant Shapps: Minister 'to resign' amid bullying claims

Former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has resigned. Credit: PA

International Development Minister Grant Shapps is reportedly to resign from his post following complaints over his handling of allegations of bullying within the Conservative Party's youth wing.

The father of Elliott Johnson, a young activist who committed suicide called for Mr Shapps and Lord Feldman, his successor as party chair, to stand down after it emerged that bullying claims against campaigner Mark Clarke had been raised with the party before his son's death.

The party had previously said it could find no record of any complaints against Mr Clarke, but the Guardian since published a letter sent to the party in January - when Mr Shapps was party chairman - about another allegation of abuse.

Mr Johnson, who died in September, had named Mr Clarke in a letter left to his family after his death.

Asked about Mr Shapps' position earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron had said a statement would be released later.

Calls for Corbyn to resign over Syria vote revolt

Senior Labour MPs have called for Jeremy Corbyn to resign as tensions within the party rise over whether Britain should join airstrikes on Syria.

It comes after the party leader told MPs in a letter that he could not support military intervention against the so-called Islamic State in the country, sparking a furious backlash from shadow cabinet members who had not yet agreed their position on the matter.

Jeremy Corbyn faces calls to resign Credit: PA

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, former minister John Spellar said Mr Corbyn's behaviour over the vote had been "unacceptable".

It's absolutely right for him to put that view in the shadow cabinet. It's right for them to discuss it.

They thought they were going away to resume that discussion on Monday. He's now trying to pre-empt that and whip up a storm inside the party.

Certainly... they should not resign. They should hold on to those places. If anyone should resign after this incident, it should be Jeremy Corbyn.

– John Spellar, MP for Warley

Another former minister, Fiona Mactaggart, echoed his sentiments - despite saying she was not convinced by the case for bombing either. Speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire, she said:

[Corbyn] hasn't got a strategy to lead the party from where it is to where it needs to be and the people of the country can see that. I think it probably is unsustainable.

I think [quitting] would be a sensible strategy because I think that the division at the moment is causing real problems.

– Fiona Mactaggart, MP for Slough


Cameron urges Labour MPs to 'do the right thing' on Syria

David Cameron has urged Labour MPs to back plans for the RAF to join airstrikes in Syria, saying they should "do the right thing" and "vote on the basis of the arguments".

David Cameron addressed Commons yesterday Credit: PA

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sparked a furious backlash from MPs when he announced that he could not support military intervention, despite the shadow cabinet not having agreed a position on the issue.

Frontbenchers including shadow education secretary Emily Thornberry have warned that Corbyn faces a rebellion if he tries to whip MPs into voting with him.

Speaking in Malta ahead of a Commonwealth summit, the Prime Minister encouraged wavering MPs to support his motion, saying he believed there was a "compelling case" to take "effective action" in Syria.

I thought many Members of Parliament on all sides of the House of Commons yesterday agreed there was a compelling case, so I would urge all of them to vote on the basis of the arguments for effective action on a compelling case to keep our country safe.

Vote on those arguments and we can do the right thing.

– David Cameron

Benn 'backs airstrikes but will not resign from shadow cabinet'

Shadow foreign minister Hilary Benn has said he will not resign from Labour's front bench - despite backing airstrikes in Syria, opposing the position taken by leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Hilary Benn will not resign, despite backing airstrikes, he said Credit: PA

It comes after Mr Corbyn provoked a backlash from Labour MPs by saying he could not support the military action, despite the shadow cabinet not reaching an agreed position.

Benn spoke to BBC R4's Today programme this morning, after admitting yesterday there was a "compelling" case for joining coalition airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State militant group in Syria.

Shadow minister admits rebellion against Corbyn is likely

There will be a rebellion within Labour if party leaders try to whip a vote on the issue of Syria, a shadow minister has admitted.

Emily Thornberry said MPs could not 'stick to a whip' on Syria, if one was imposed Credit: PA

MP Emily Thornberry said there was "brutally honest" debate among MPs at the moment, as they ask their constituents what they believe should happen.

It comes after leader Jeremy Corbyn sparked a furious backlash after revealing he could not back RAF air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria, before the shadow cabinet had reached an agreed position on the issue.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Thornberry said:

We have an open debate, and a brutally honest debate, going on within the Labour Party.

I think there will always be divisions within the political parties, the Conservatives will have their divisions too.

When it comes to an issue of war it is something that people think very profoundly about. We do usually act collectively, but I think on issues like this there are times when people cannot stick to a whip which is imposed.

– Emily Thornberry MP

Trump denies mocking disabled New York Times reporter

Donald Trump has denied mocking a disabled reporter from the New York Times, saying he does not know who he is.

The billionaire property tycoon and frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination was criticised for doing an impression of Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a congenital joint condition, at a rally in South Carolina

But in a statement on Thursday, he said: "I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago.

"If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like. If I did know, I would definitely not say anything about his appearance."

Mr Kovaleski has since disputed this, saying the pair "were on a first-name basis for years" and that he met and interviewed Trump "around a dozen times" while working for The Daily News in the 1980s.

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