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PM hit by minister's resignation

David Cameron has been hit by a shock ministerial resignation on the eve of the Conservative Party conference.

Brooks Newmark said that he was quitting as Cabinet Office minister with responsibility for civil society.

"I have decided to resign as Minister for Civil Society having been notified of a story to be published in a Sunday newspaper," he said.

"I would like to appeal for the privacy of my family to be respected at this time. I remain a loyal supporter of this Government as its long term economic plan continues to deliver for the British people."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has accepted Brooks Newmark's resignation from his role as Minister for Civil Society."

The announcement came just hours after Conservative backbencher Mark Reckless announced that he was defecting to Ukip.

American-born Mr Newmark first entered Parliament as MP for Braintree in 2005.

He made his mark as a backbencher with his interventions on the economy - serving as a member of the Treasury Committee - and more recently on Syria.

He was made a Cabinet Office minister in Mr Cameron's last reshuffle in July, having previously served a spell in the Tory whips office.

With his resignation coming so hard on the heels of Mr Reckless's defection, the Conservatives could hardly have had a worse start to what will be their final annual conference before next year's general election.

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