One person who will not be attending the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham next week is, bizarrely, the city's only Tory MP.
Andrew Mitchell, the chief whip, has decided to stay away so as to avoid being a "distraction" amid the ongoing row over whether he called Downing Street police officers "plebs" or not.
"At the moment he is planning not to go to conference," a friend of Mitchell said. "It was his own decision. He doesn't want to be a distraction."
Rather than fleeing to his constituency to avoid the press pack as is usual practice, the Sutton Coldfield MP will actually have to stay away from his seat.
Mitchell has denied using the word "plebs" after being blocked from accessing to No.10 through the main gate while on his bike, but has admitted using strong language.
However police records record Mitchell as saying: "Best you learn your f******* place... you don't run this f****** government... You're f****** plebs".
Mitchell has agreed to meet representatives of the Police Federation next week to try and draw a line under the issue.
However Ian Edwards, the chair of the Federation's West Midlands branch told The Huffington Post UK that officers were "very upset by him saying the officers' accounts aren't true".
Labour Party deputy chairman Tom Watson said Mitchell was "running scared".
"It's ridiculous that the Chief Whip would rather dodge his own party conference, on the doorstep of his Sutton Coldfield constituency, rather than do what is right," he said.
"This Government will blame everyone but itself for their failure. David Cameron should get a grip and make Andrew Mitchell come clean about what he actually said to police officers doing their job and apologise properly."
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