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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Timeline: Flight falls from grace
Howard Flight
Tory MP Howard Flight has been dropped as the party's deputy chairman and told he cannot stand as a Conservative candidate for the safe Sussex seat of Arundel and the South Downs. He is fighting that decision. This is how events unfolded:
WEDNESDAY, 23 MARCH
Mr Flight makes a speech seen as suggesting the Tories planned more than the published 35bn in savings if they won the election. He told them: "The potential for getting better taxpayer value is a good bit greater than the James findings (which have been) 'sieved' for what is politically acceptable and what is not going to lose the main argument." He adds: "Everyone on our side of the fence believes passionately that it will be a continuing agenda".
THURSDAY, 24 MARCH
The Times newspaper publishes a story based on a secret tape recording of the speech and Conservative leader Michael Howard forces Mr Flight to resign as Tory deputy chairman.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON, 25 MARCH
Mr Howard removes the Tory whip in the Commons from Mr Flight, which effectively removes him from the candidate list in his Arundel and South Downs constituency. Mr Flight refuses to stand down as the candidate for his seat. Asked on BBC Radio 4's PM programme if he has the support of his local Conservative Association, he replies: "I think I do, yes."
EVENING, 25 MARCH
A Conservative spokesman insists Mr Flight cannot stand as a Tory candidate without being authorised by the party's nominating office. Angela Litchfield, chairman of the Arundel and South Downs Conservative Association, confirms that a new candidate will be sought to replace Mr Flight.
SATURDAY, 26 MARCH
Shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin tells the BBC Mr Flight's comments have been "embarrassing" to the party but says Mr Howard's action shows he could be a decisive prime minister. Health secretary John Reid joins the debate, saying Mr Flight has been sacked for telling truth about the Conservatives planned cuts. Mr Flight tells BBC News 24 he is "sorry" for any embarrassment he has caused but refuses to concede he cannot stand at the election.
SUNDAY, 27 MARCH
Mr Flight consults his lawyers as he calls for an extraordinary meeting of his local Tory association to discuss his future. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Howard says Mr Flight's gaffe was a "terrible let-down".
MONDAY, 28 MARCH
The Tory leader says he does not regret sacking Mr Flight. He says MPs are allowed to hold different views but cannot say one thing in private and another in public. Mr Flight continues to insist he will not stand down as a candidate unless his association wants rid of him. Lady O'Cathain, honorary president of Arundel and South Downs Conservatives, backs calls for an extraordinary general meeting for local members to discuss Mr Flight's future.
TUESDAY, 29 MARCH
Supporters of Mr Flight say they have enough signatures on a petition to trigger an extraordinary general meeting of his local Tory association.



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How events unfolded following Howard Flight's remark



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