Tories ridiculed as Davis quits to force by-election over terror laws

THE Tories were ridiculed as a "party in disarray" last night after David Davis, the shadow home secretary, resigned over the new terror laws.

Mr Davis quit in protest one day after the government won a Commons vote on increasing the detention of terrorist suspects to 42 days, plunging the fortunes of his leader David Cameron into crisis.

In what was being interpreted as a massive own goal, Mr Davis announced he was standing down to re-contest his Yorkshire parliamentary seat on the basis of the "strangulation of fundamental British freedoms".

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His actions immediately deflected attention from the troubles of Gordon Brown, the beleaguered Prime Minister, who had to rely on the votes of nine Northern Irish MPs to get the measures passed after 36 Labour back-benchers voted against the government.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said the Tories were in "total disarray" while David Blunkett, the former home secretary, described Mr Davis's behaviour as "childish and immature."

Hilary Benn, the UK environment secretary, said: "I don't understand what he is hoping to achieve by this. The Conservative Party is in disarray over national security."

Mr Cameron issued a clipped statement that made clear it was a "personal decision" for Mr Davis to stand down. He immediately promoted Dominic Grieve from shadow attorney-general to replace Mr Davis.

Mr Grieve, who said he had no intention of standing down if his predecessor is returned in a by-election – expected next month – said it was a "highly individual decision".

Mr Davis, who will defend a 5,116 majority in Haltemprice and Howden, was forced to make his statement outside Parliament after the Speaker refused him permission to address the Commons.

His task will be made easier by the decision of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg not to field a candidate. Labour had not decided whether to enter the race.

In extraordinary scenes, Mr Davis said it was "incumbent" upon him to take a stand against the erosion of civil liberties, including 42 days' detention without charge, ID cards, CCTV cameras and computer databases.

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Mr Davis said Mr Cameron had warned him that resigning was "very risky". But "iron entered my soul" after seeing how the government won the vote. "I do not think the Archangel Gabriel could have talked me out of it at that point," he said.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the civil liberties body Liberty, said: "When David told me about his decision, I tried to talk him out of it."

Labour MP Barry Sheerman said: "At best, it is vanity politics, at worst it is cynical manipulation by the Conservatives."

No deal with DUP, claims Brown

GORDON Brown insisted yesterday he had done "no deal" with Democratic Unionists to secure vital support for his 42-day terror detention without charge proposals.

The controversial measure was narrowly approved by the Commons by just nine votes on Wednesday thanks to the support of the DUP after 36 Labour MPs rebelled.

But the Prime Minister rejected claims that he had bought their backing, or that of some Labour MPs, with promises of action on issues such as extra cash for Northern Ireland.

He said at his Downing Street press conference: "There was no deal. There was no deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, no deal with the Ulster unionists generally.

"And I think for people to imply that is to take away from the strength of the argument about the need to tackle terrorism."

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Mr Brown continued: "People in Northern Ireland know what happens with terrorism."

Suggesting the DUP backed the government only because of offered incentives was "impugning the reputation of people who are concerned about terrorism", he said.