Esther McVey resigns as secretary of state

James Phillips reports...

Photo: UK Parliament CC BY 3.0
Photo: UK Parliament CC BY 3.0

Secretary of state for work and pensions Esther McVey has resigned from the government.

McVey took on the role in January this year after a cabinet reshuffle and has been in post for just 312 days.

She resigns after a tumultuous cabinet meeting over a draft agreement for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, which took place yesterday.

In a resignation letter to Theresa May, McVey said: “We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal. I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye if I were to do that. I therefore have no alternative but to resign from government.”

She said the deal put before Cabinet yesterday does not honour the result of the EU referendum, and does not meet the tests May set out from the outset of her premiership.

The proposals will “trap us” in a customs union, “bind the hands” of future governments in pursuing genuine free trade policies, by handing over £39bn to the EU “without anything in return”, she said.

She added it has been a “huge honour” to serve as secretary of state.