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No comeback as Sir Nick values freedom of speech

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 15, 2013

MPs walk their dogs during the Westminster dog of the year competition

MPs walk their dogs during the Westminster dog of the year competition

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Winners and losers

Last week's ministerial reshuffle was a mixed bag for the South West. Winners were George Eustice (Con, Camborne and Redruth) and Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem, North Cornwall). Both were named junior ministers in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The WMN thinks they are the first MPs representing Cornwall to be handed ministerial berths since Sir John Nott, the former Tory MP for St Ives and Defence Secretary during the Falklands conflict.

Elsewhere Taunton Deane Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne was sacked, from the Home Office, as was his Lib Dem colleague David Heath, who represents Somerton and Frome, who was removed from Defra. East Devon Conservative MP Hugo Swire remains in the Foreign Office.

Then there's the curious case of Sir Nick Harvey, the North Devon Lib Dem MP knighted last year after being stripped of his Armed Forces ministerial role. Rumours were rife he was slated for a comeback – one that did not materialise. According to the Mail on Sunday, Sir Nick rejected Nick Clegg's overtures to be his Chief Whip – claiming he was reluctant to commit to a role that would require him to keep his opinions to himself close to an election.

Tipped to succeed

In the aftermath of the reshuffle, David Heath announced that he is to stand down as MP in 2015. Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown led the chorus of praise for the well-liked former optician, and there was "not a dry eye in the house" when he told his local party the news.

Big shoes to fill, not least since Somerton and Frome is marginal seat with the Lib Dems clinging to a majority of around 1,800. The WMN understands Sarah Yong, a twentysomething who heads Wells MP Tessa Munt's office, is the party favourite to get the candidacy.

Labour back Tory!

Political peace has broken out in Plymouth as the city's Labour party has backed Conservative MP Gary Streeter's bid to be elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. Councillor Tudor Evans, leader of Labour-run Plymouth City Council, said of the South West Devon MP's attempt: "His election would be good for Plymouth." Luke Pollard, Labour's candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and Labour's 2010 challenger against Mr Streeter, added: "Plymouth could always do with more friends in high places in Parliament."

Limited search

Noodle, the cockapoo belonging to International Development Minister Alan Duncan, won Westminster's dog of the year competition. But how comprehensive was the search among dog-loving MPs? For one, 2011 winner Wilberforce, the labrador owned by Tiverton and Honiton Tory MP Neil Parish, did not compete.

Tweet of the week

"Govt's plan to gas badgers = admission of failure" - Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter

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