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UK Politics

Minister defiant after radio spat

Enduring a live radio bust-up with John Humphrys has become a rite of passage for any ambitious minister.

But few will have had such a vitriolic spat with the veteran Today presenter as Grant Shapps, the Housing minister, who is widely tipped to be promoted to the Cabinet in David Cameron's next reshuffle.

First he had a bizarre extended row over Today's claim that he had failed to honour a booking for an earlier interview. Mr Humphrys told him: "There was a booking with your staff which never happened." Mr Shapps hit back: "It gave a wrong impression to the listeners."

Then he angrily rejected claims the Government tried to bury bad news by announcing new help for first-time buyers the day before figures revealed a huge fall in numbers of social homes being built.

Mr Shapps denied he had seen the statistics ahead of his announcement and retorted: "You have given a very misleading report by trying to suggest I have avoided an interview and that we knew about these figures."

The BBC said: "It was perfectly reasonable to question the timing of the government's housing strategy announcement."