The anti-HS2 crowd were beside themselves with rage: the Tory Party had fired someone from his post as vice-chairman just for doing what many of his constituents wanted, and opposing the project. This was monstrous, authoritarian and intolerant behaviour. Then, when the facts of the case became known, those that cared found out that it wasn’t about that at all.
This is because the sacked vice-chairman, who had been given the option of resigning by Grant “Spiv” Shapps, was none other than Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, irreverent clown of impressionistic hairstyle. That he had even been given the role in the first place was a bigger surprise than his departing it. And it wasn’t really about HS2, not that those opposed want to go there.
Although the Mail is reporting “A source close to Mr Shapps last night insisted that his departure was mainly down to his opposition to the Government’s plans for a new high-speed rail line between London, Birmingham and the North of England”, that opposition had been known about since the Tories decided to carry on with the project they inherited from Pa Broon’s Government.
No, the last straw for Fabricant, quite apart from his previously joking “I will admit that I am in a relationship with one of Matthew Parris’ llamas. I will not reveal its sex” among many other exhibitions of silliness, was when he reacted to the resignation of Maria Miller by Tweeting “Maria Miller has resigned. Well, about time. And just before PMQs today”. The response was swift.
After his meeting with “Spiv” Shapps, Fabricant confessed “Been asked to resign as Vice Chairman, refused, so sacked over HS2 and my views on a recent Cabinet Minister. Still available 4 speeches etc”. His view on HS2, which will pass through his constituency, had not changed. What had made the difference was his ill-judged remark about the departing Ms Miller.
And he had more to tell his Twitter followers: “Sorry to disappoint a number of Tweeters and some journalists who have phoned: No, I am definitely NOT defecting to UKIP”. The good news just keeps on coming for Nigel “Thirsty” Farage: on top of the Tories’ shambolic performance of the last few days, the one MP that would give UKIP a little more of that Godfrey Bloom avoidability shuns them.
But forget any idea that Fabricant was sacked for any display of high principle: the Tories should never really have appointed him in the first place, and it was a case of “off the cuff once too often”.
You can’t have a self-appointed comedy turn in that kind of role. End of story.